From shareables to upscale menu items like steamed mussels, the variety of apps operators offer at bars keeps growing.
One way that operators can upgrade bar snacks, such as nachos or fries, is through the use of nontraditional or global ingredients. Ingredient innovation continues to give classic dishes new life, according to Chicago-based Technomic.
“For example, we’ve seen loaded fries with global inspirations using Mexican and Korean ingredients or flavors,” says Katie Belflower, editor at Technomic. “Another option is adding elevated proteins, including brisket, crab and lobster, to nachos or fries to make them a more indulgent choice.”
Bar Snack Insights
Many of the top-growing bar snacks are somewhat standard fare, like Buffalo cauliflower and hot chicken, according to Datassential. Also, many of the top sauces are driven by wing flavors.
Chicago-based Datassential reports upscale menu items at bars and grills, including steamed mussels and grilled artichokes, as well as handhelds and shareables, continue to show positive sales growth. High-growth items in the last year include barbecue chicken wings, lobster bisque and hot chicken. Buffalo cauliflower holds the No.1 position in four-year growth trends.
Concept Close-Up: Grand Army Bar
Grand Army, an upscale bar in Brooklyn, N.Y., that focuses on seafood, popular menu items include lobster rolls, crab toast with jalapeno and lime, and yellow-tail tuna tartare with shrimp chips and sesame dressing.At
“In terms of higher-end bar food trends, we have noticed a shift toward more diverse ingredients, creative preparations and bold flavors,” chef Jake Keller notes. “Sustainable and locally sourced seafood and seasonal produce are being incorporated into upscale bar food to elevate the overall dining experience. Preparation techniques like sous vide, smoking and incorporating global flavors that draw influence from multicultural cuisines are also popular.” He attributes the growing interest in food culture and increased exposure to international cuisines through travel and media as one factor in current menu trends.
Keller notes a few pieces of equipment are indispensable. “Quality kitchen equipment, such as a combination oven and induction stovetop, is essential for cooking seafood to perfection,” he says. “Additionally, specialized equipment like a sous vide machine, a cold smoker and dehydrators may also be utilized to achieve specific flavors and textures.”
Grand Army’s culinary staff is always on the lookout for equipment innovations and technological advancements to enhance its food preparation processes. “For instance, we have incorporated precision temperature control devices for sous vide cooking, induction cooktops for precise heat control and advanced cold smoke infusers for adding smoky flavors to seafood dishes,” Keller says.
Looking ahead, Keller predicts more experimentation with fusion cuisine, an increased focus on plant-based seafood alternatives, and the use of alternative grains and lesser-known seafood varieties to create unique textures and flavors in bar food.