Restaurant chefs, in their elegant chef uniforms, are now preparing to concoct savory and appetizing menus to offer for late fall and winter, and are thinking of sauces to liven up their new dishes. Technomic advises not to look too far—it’s best to stick to those that customers have gotten used to, though not necessarily let them stifle a yawn with the usual tradition.
Take a look at the way sports-aficionados love and patronize Buffalo Wild Wings’ different sauces for their Buffalo-style chicken wings. They have a total of 14 flavors, said to cover every taste bud that their fans would have. There’s a choice of the classics—mild, medium, hot and wild; and the usual barbeque sauces, with options of traditional, honey or hot. The exotic palates can go for teriyaki sauce, the Caribbean Jerk, the Thai curry or the Mango Habanero; while those who want to have a wild hot ride can opt for spicy garlic, spicy jalapenos or the hottest sauce they got, Blazin’. This, on top of the 18 flavors of wings and different seasonings that they offer.
The basic idea is, if these sauces work for chicken wings, then surely, pork, beef, lamb, fish and other foods can well work beyond the usual cranberry, pumpkin and apple sauces, right?
Technomic also says that cherry sauce is another that people have gotten used to in the recent years. The chefs in quality chef uniforms in Chez Zee in Austin, Texas drizzle cherry sauce over their Smoked Tenderloin and Jack’s Steak Sandwich. “Cherry sauce is often present in full-service restaurants, often teamed-up with duck and seafood,” says Aaron Jourden of Technomic, citing their menu analysis tool, Menu Monitor. “Restaurants can consider this popularity and try to come up with pork or beef entrees, as well as sandwiches, which are done this way.”
Citrus-based flavors also made the cut, having created a fresher, tangier feel on restaurant menus for some time now. The most widely used citrus flavors are from lemons and oranges, either used solo or mixed with cumin, garlic or other spices. The rind or juices of orange or lemon enhances the flavor profile of pork Cuban dishes, especially when served as sandwiches.
Liven Up The Menu
Of course, not all can be as brave in trying out the non-traditional. But as Jourden suggests, “Restaurants can still come-up with thoughtful limited-time-offers of food and drinks which feature the traditional sweet potatoes, apples or pumpkin sauces—these can liven up and create an excitement on the menu.”
Not to forget, of course, the staying power of the traditional caramel, which has been a much sought-after flavor profile in the past year, most especially in the coming of fall last August. Dunkin’ Donuts has Caramel Apple Doughnut, Red Robin has chewy caramel on its Nestle Toll House Cookie Sundae, Dairy Queen re-launched its Ooey Gooey Caramel Brownie Blizzard and Applebee’s has caramel sauce on its Cinnamon Apple Turnover. Caramel is one of the most flexible sauces you can have, using it in desserts as well as entrees and sandwiches.
Remember, restaurants have customers who love tradition, but want a few changes once in a while; they’re quick to shift from one flavor to the next, and they’re always willing to try something new. So there.