The Spice is Right: Introduce Fall Flavors to Your Menu
When you imagine the start of fall, you may think of crisp, cool air and cozy fires. You may also think of some of your favorite foods made during the holiday season.
Restaurants that offer seasonal dishes tend to get more guests during this time than those with a set menu throughout the year. If you have never had a seasonal menu but you’re interested in trying it, we have a few tips we can share.
All About Pumpkin
Pumpkin spice stays top of mind during this season thanks to the now-famous PSL (pumpkin spice latte). Pumpkins do have a considerable contribution to new menu items. We now see more savory options such as pumpkin soups, diced pumpkin on salads, pumpkin-filled pasta, and even some mildly sweet pumpkin bread appearing on menus. However, a seasonal menu needs to excite guests and have items that entice them to visit your restaurant over a competitor. For chefs looking for new options to match the season, it’s not as simple as adding pumpkin pie to the regular menu.
Switch It Up
There are a few ways to spice up your fall menu that don’t revolve around the traditional pumpkin flavor profile. For starters, if you’re not already making homemade chicken stock, we highly recommend it. The initial creation of your recipe may involve some trial and error, but we promise the final result will be more than worth it. If you’re saving chicken or beef jus, consider a sage-infused jus for your seasonal items. You can create an easy yet spectacular gravy for mashed potatoes or a braised chicken dish. Butternut squash soup is an approachable fall item that can still excite guests to try something new. You can add some sweetness to the mix by creating cinnamon butter to go with savory bread or to top roasted acorn squash.
Comfort foods such as these are highly favored during this time of year, and you may even receive requests for guests to take family-style dishes to go. Many people love to host friends & family, but they may need some help with preparing a meal. Offering full-sized to-go desserts is also a huge win for you and your guests during the holidays- guests who take these dishes to the family dinner may result in new guests that have to come back for more of your incredible desserts.
If you’re a smaller-scale restaurant, there are still ways to join in by offering seasonal flavors. Consider a few specialty hot spiced beverages that aren’t pumpkin. Caramel, cinnamon, spiced brown sugar, apple & chai are all great flavors that can be easily done by ordering pre-made syrups or creating a quick and easy in-house recipe. Coffee is a commodity all year, but especially during the colder months.
If you have a bar (or you need to unwind at home), below is a simple recipe that you can try. Bourbon is a great spirit to use in signature cocktails in the Fall & Winter.
Cranberry & Apple Hot Toddy
- 1.5 oz bourbon
- 2 oz apple juice
- 3 oz cranberry juice
- 1 tsp honey
- ½ lemon, squeezed
- 1-star anise pod and slices of apple (for optional garnish)
- Heat apple, cranberry, and lemon juice in a small saucepan
- Add honey and stir until dissolved
- Remove mixture from heat and pour into serving glass
- Stir in the bourbon
- Add garnish, if desired