Leading restaurants have begun celebrating the arrival of spring and warmer weather by adding lighter dishes, seasonings, and sauces, according to foodservice consultants Technomic. These dishes are heavily showcasing seafood as well as citrus and fruit flavors such as lemon, lime, and peach.

The findings are part of Technomic’s ongoing examination of menu additions to leading independent and chain restaurants’ menus, which are collected bi-annually and available on Technomic’s searchable online MenuMonitor database.

“We found that restaurants have begun rolling out a number of new seafood dishes, especially entrées incorporating grilled shrimp, salmon, or tilapia,” says Bernadette Noone, director of product management at Technomic. “We believe that the higher incidence of seafood dishes is the direct result of a fall in seafood’s retail price points. We’ve also seen countless restaurants introduce new menu offerings featuring citrus and other fruit flavors. Lemon and lime have been exceptionally popular.”

A look at recent seafood dishes reveals that shrimp tacos, lobster tails, grilled salmon, and grilled mahi mahi are some of the most common menu additions. The seafood trend is evident across all restaurant segments, from quick-service chains to fine-dining restaurants. A sample of new seafood entrées includes:

* Tempura Shrimp & Lobster Tail combo meal at Charlie Brown’s Steakhouse

* Crispy Shrimp Tacos at Carrows Restaurants

* Orange-and-Chipotle-Glazed Grilled Salmon at Jackson’s Steakhouse

* Blackened Tilapia with Crab-Stuffed Shrimp at Luby’s

* Fish Wrap at Wienerschnitzel

* Seafood Platter at K&W Cafeterias

Some chains got a jump-start on summer by crafting seafood entrées prepared with light sauces and seasonal ingredients. Numerous examples of citrus and other fruit flavors are also showing up on beverage items, alcoholic and non-alcoholic alike.

Menu Innovations, News