Menu developers are ‘waking up’ breakfast to boost traffic and sales. Their efforts are transforming the morning daypart from a bastion of traditional and conservative tastes into an experience more in tune with major eating trends, such as bolder flavors, fresh, local ingredients and global cuisines.
In fact, ethnic-inspired breakfast items—Asian-flavored syrups, chorizo scrambled eggs and coconut-milk pancakes, for example—made the Top 20 trends of the National Restaurant Association’s What’s Hot 2013 Chef Survey. What’s more, egg dishes such as frittatas, huevos rancheros and burritos were among the leaders in a Datassential Menu Trends study of fastest-growing breakfast items.
That kind of ethnic borrowing and sophisticated flavor layering is at work in the Chinese Breakfast at Plow, a breakfast and lunch restaurant in San Francisco. In this popular item, a bowl of jasmine rice is topped with caramelized pork shoulder, chili paste, ginger and a pair of fried eggs.
However, operators who serve out of the ordinary breakfast fare like that also typically include traditional favorites such as egg-and-breakfast meat combos, oatmeal and the traditional bagel with a smear of cream cheese, peanut butter or jam to please customers who may not choose to explore new flavors at breakfast. For those who choose to explore flavor on the go, Smucker’s® Peanut Butter and jam varieties are available in portion control packaging to pair with their breakfast choices.
For example, in addition to the livelier menu items, Plow offers breakfast plates with a choice of eggs and sides. At Nightwood restaurant in Chicago, brunch includes a simple bagel and cream cheese, as well as a more elaborate bagel sandwich with smoked trout, cream cheese, slaw, bacon and an over-easy egg.
When the goal is to create a signature breakfast entrée or sandwich, a flavorful spread, condiment, sauce or topping often plays an important role. Witness the spicy tomato jam that enlivens the Sage Scrambled Egg Panini at Five Leaves in Brooklyn, N.Y., and the palate-tingling Wasabi sauce on the Smoked Salmon Wasabi breakfast bagel offered by the Boston-based Au Bon Pain bakery café chain.
IHOP, the Glendale, Calif.-based family dining chain, reaches out to spicy food lovers by serving its Big Steak Omelette with salsa on the side. The Breakfast Pot Pie at Snooze, a seven-unit, breakfast-only concept based in Denver, comes with homemade rosemary sausage gravy. Snooze also is known for offering cream cheese hollandaise and smoked cheddar hollandaise on Eggs Benedict variations.
The growing trend toward dessert-like flavors at breakfast is an invitation to use sauces and toppings with sweet or fruity flavor profiles and ingredients, such as Smucker’s® jams, jellies and preserves.
Menu developers at IHOP came up with the winning flavor combo of sweet cream, peaches and vanilla drizzle for Peach Vanilla Stuffed French Toast. At Snooze, Pineapple Upside Down Pancakes are made with caramelized pineapple chunks, housemade vanilla crème anglaise and cinnamon butter. The Tiramisu Pancakes at Wildberry Café, a breakfast-and-lunch concept with three Chicago-area locations, feature cinnamon, cocoa, delicate cheeses and whipped cream. Husk in Nashville, Tenn., uses maple and Chantilly cream to add distinction to its French Toast with Tennessee Apples.
Even traditional maple syrup is getting a tweak these days—especially trending is the flavor combination offered by the new Smucker’s® Maple Bacon Flavored Syrup. For instance, Little Goat Diner in Chicago presents its Fat Elvis Waffles with housemade bacon maple syrup, banana and “peanut-butter butter.” It also offers Crumpets with chorizo maple syrup. What’s more, Little Goat Diner’s Dark Chocolate Chip Crunch Pancakes sport a dollop of chocolate malt butter.
Creative side dishes offer another opportunity for breakfast menu makers to drive add-on sales. Five Leaves offers diverse sides such as avocado, housemade baked beans, fried tomatoes, sautéed broccoli rabe and grilled chorizo. Seasonal vegetables ranging from Brussels sprouts to spinach to butternut squash star in the Veggie Hash at Half & Half, a breakfast, lunch and brunch spot in St. Louis. Plow has a loyal following for its crisp breakfast potatoes that are flavored with caramelized onions, thyme and rosemary.
For information about breakfast trends, menu solutions and products, visit www.smuckersfoodservice.com.