This article first appeared in the 1 November 2007 issue of Restaurants & Institutions (R&I).
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2007 Menu Census finds that beef, veal, pork, lamb, chicken, turkey, fish, shellfish and even game birds make appearances on industry-segment lists of what sells well, is increasing in sales or is being considered for addition in 2008.
Grilled skinless chicken breasts are hot sellers from fine dining to healthcare, and steak continues to be popular everywhere. Where it is menued, salmon sells well. Where it isnÁ¢ÂÂt menued now, it will be soon. Crab cakes are as in-demand as entrÁÂ©es as they are as appetizers. Sushi is hot on college campuses, but so are meatballs and chicken tenders.
A few other old-school dishesÁ¢ÂÂ"among them chicken and beef pot pies, catfish, meatloaf and beef StroganoffÁ¢ÂÂ"also show signs of a return to prominence in various industry segments.
HereÁ¢ÂÂs a quick roundup of center-of-the-plate trends around the industry:
Fine dining: Sales of salmon, tuna and duck are rising; watch for beef short ribs, duck, more fish (especially striped bass or sea bass) and surf Á¢ÂÂn turf to join menus.
Casual dining: Salmon, grilled chicken and rib-eye steaks are solid sellers; pulled pork, flat-iron steak, crab cakes and even duck are under consideration.
Family dining: Grilled chicken breasts and pork ribs and chops are stars; more chicken (fried pieces, wings), tilapia, rib-eye steak and crab cakes are among foods that may be added.
Cafeteria/buffet: Steaks, chicken wings and barbecued pork ribs sell well; barbecued brisket and prime rib top the might-add list.
Limited service: Grilled chicken and fried fish are increasing in sales; fried shrimp and pulled pork are among future possibilities.
Hotels: Filet mignon, prime rib and salmon are stronger sellers; duck, veal chops, crab cakes and calamari are being considered by those that donÁ¢ÂÂt have them.
Healthcare: Tilapia, grilled chicken breasts, salmon and roast beef show growing popularity; chicken pot pies, pulled pork and fish (tilapia, halibut, salmon) soon may join more menus.
College/university: Grilled chicken, tilapia, sushi and pulled pork are among the hot on-menu foods; scallops, pork chops, chicken/turkey sausage and more sushi are in the menu pipeline.
Schools: Proven favorites (chicken tenders, baked fish portions, fried shrimp and roast beef) reign, with chicken and meat pies, beef Stroganoff and chicken wings on the list of might-add meals.
Business and industry: Salmon, tuna and roast turkey are solid hits in corporate settings; coming next are calamari, crab cakes, chicken burgers and chicken pot pies. Á¢ÂÂ"S.H.