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Trend: Choose Chicken

With beef prices rising, more operators are turning to chicken as a go-to meat, reinventing the value-added protein — and the bones — in exciting ways.

Rotisserie Chicken Racks up Sales

The incidence of rotisserie chicken dishes on menus of emerging, regional and local chains and independents has increased about 6 percent in the past 2 years, according to MenuMonitor data from Chicago-based market research firm Technomic. The more popular flavors include garlic, barbecue and sweet options, while nearly 6 percent of menus feature Latin-inspired preparations. Many chains like Bandera and Wolfgang Puck feature rotisserie-style chicken. Some independent restaurants now serve whole rotisserie chicken for two or more people as well as chicken stuffed with herbs, vegetables and seafood, or shredded and piled on sandwiches and salads. The group of emerging chains serving rotisserie and spit-roasted chicken includes:

  • Zankou Chicken
  • Cowboy Chicken
  • Zea Rotisserie & Grill
  • Bantam + Biddy
  • Chicken Shop
  • The Charcoal Grill and Rotisserie
  • Chicken Out Rotisserie

 Concept Closeup: Leghorn Chicken

Leghorn-restaurantLeghorn Chicken

Chef and restaurateur Jared Van Camp has expanded his Nashville-style fried chicken concept amidst a continuing fried chicken shack trend in Chicago. Leghorn Chicken, with outposts in West Town and most recently, River North, serves hot or brined, 100 percent all-natural Amish chicken atop a biscuit or bun and smothered with homemade sauce, from creole honey mustard to kimchi BBQ. Breakfast offerings include egg dishes, small-batch coffee and local doughnuts to keep the business running morning 'til night.

Streetbird Rotisserie

Streetbird Rotisserie, Marcus Samuelsson's new restaurant in Harlem, serves chicken that's rubbed with brown sugar and salt and served with a variety of sauces like "Jamerican" jerk, sweet soy and barbecue. Other dishes like the Swediopian with doro wat chicken stew, Ethiopian flatbread (injera), fresh cheese and boiled egg, reflect Samuelsson's multicultural (Ethiopian and Swedish) heritage.

The restaurant's funky design, developed by Samuelsson and Derek Fleming, pays homage to 1970s Harlem diner culture and '90s hip-hop. Artist Cey Adams contributed exclusive graffiti art for the space, while another artist created a floor-based collage throughout the entrance showcasing vintage images of Harlem eating institutions and neighborhood culture. The entry also features a high-top counter made with domino tiles representing the popular games of local community gatherings. An interactive installation of old boom boxes, including one from Samuelsson's childhood, plays interviews from notable New York personalities via headphones available to guests.

In the dining area, repurposed wood and other materials, along with West African fabric create a layered aesthetic for the banquettes. Harlem church pews repurposed as benches are covered in vintage designer textiles from labels like Adidas, Gucci and Louis Vuitton. Counter seating curves around the back of the restaurant facing the open kitchen so guests can see birds cooking in the centrally located rotisserie.

Liquid Gold

The bone broth trend continues from coast to coast, even making its way into cocktails. Not only does homemade broth offer nutritional benefits by making nutrient-rich collagen, gelatin and glucosamine easier to digest, it’s become a real way to save on food waste and use the entire meat product. Restaurants can also start charging for something most make every day: aromatic stock.

Equipment implications: stock pots, turbo-cooking pots, special high-powered burners.