The trend for burgers has peaked, as restaurant menus across Britain continue to innovate along US-, Asian- and street-food-inspired lines, according to new research from foodservice analysts Horizons.
The latest Menurama research from June 2014 charted the menus of 116 UK branded restaurants, pubs, fast-casual outlets and hotels.
It found that hot dogs and ribs were becoming more popular at the expense of burgers, which were still the favourite option but seen on 17% fewer menu options than in 2013. In contrast, hot dogs appeared on 86% more menus, and pork ribs at 15% more, compared with last year.
The research also found significant international influences, from the US, as well as Japan, Korea and the Middle East. American examples include "chicken Louisiana skins" and "New Yorker crunchy salad" at Frankie & Benny's, and the "New Yorker on rye" at Pret A Manger.
Asian options included Japanese Katsu dishes and Korean flavours such as kimchi.
In terms of sides, "slaw" â' or coleslaw â' was still popular; prominent examples included blue cheese slaw with chopped jalapenos at Gourmet Burger Kitchen, and "Asian slaw" at TGI Friday's. Macaroni cheese had also become more popular, with names such as Pitcher & Piano featuring a crayfish mac 'n' cheese on its menu.
Sharing plates had also become more common on casual dining menus - climbing 64% since 2013 â' as had street-food-inspired plates such as burritos, and unusual presentation ideas such as "planks" and "trash can lids".
Flat iron steak - a cheaper cut from the shoulder â' had also been added to 17 of the menus studied.
Restaurant menus were more aware of allergens and food intolerances this year, with free-from dishes rising by 9%, and the term "gluten-free" (or "wheatless" or "flourless") appearing on 8% more menus than in 2013.
Overall, sites were showing a more health-conscious side, including options such as muesli on breakfast menus.
Main findings: summary
•Burger popularity has peaked, declining by 17%, with hot dogs and ribs increasingly appearing on menus compared to 2013 (86% and 15% more respectively)
•Burgers are still the most popular food, however, with innovations still coming strong - such as the pizza burger, and smoked paprika ketchup
•American influences were significant, including named dishes ("Louisiana skins") and sides such as "slaw" and mac 'n' cheese
•Flat iron steak was more popular on a significant minority of menus
•Sharing plates had increased by 64%, including unusual presentation styles such as "planks"
•Asian food was influential, including Japanese and Korean dishes
•Allergens and awareness of gluten-free options were on the rise