Fine diners look for creatively prepared, aesthetically pleasing gourmet dishes, but there is no denying the appeal of everyday comfort foods. According to the Technomic Menu Monitor, instances of restaurants serving comfort food are growing 34% every year. If the pattern holds, you’ll be missing out if you don’t start serving comfort food in your restaurant.
Comfort food is far from gourmet. Most people think of home-cooked food when they think of comfort food. It brings them a sense of nostalgia and going back to their childhood memories. While you’ll still need your walkin coolers and Beverage Aire coolers to store food items, customers will be looking for warm, pleasant dishes that remind them of the things their mothers and grandmothers cooked for them.
Go For The Classics
While many chefs want to put their own innovative twist on simple, unassuming comfort food dishes, Technomic’s 2017 Comfort Foods Consumer Survey for Breaded Protein reveals people are far more inclined to eat dishes prepared traditionally. That means no fried chicken patties made from vegan, and therefore non-chicken, patties or deconstructed burgers that diners have to put together themselves.
It’s also worth noting that people prefer calorie-heavy and fat-laden foods when they’re looking for a meal to ease off their stresses for the day. There are no salads or vegetables, just pure, caloric, fatty, carb-loaded goodness.
Here are some suggestions for comfort food dishes that you can serve at your restaurant. Just be careful, though. Once you put these up on your menu, your customers may start to clamor loudly for more.
For many people, meatloaf is the ultimate comfort food. It’s what mom used to make on those busy school nights when everyone was just raring to sit down at the dining table and forget about the things that happened during the day. It also has an extremely high-fat content, putting it at the top of the list of the best American comfort foods. The trick, however, is to use lean ground beef for your meatloaf. Otherwise, you’ll end up with a huge greasy mess that nobody wants to dig into. Meatloaf is best served with other comfort foods, such as mashed potatoes.
2. Hot Chocolate
The chilly autumns and harsh winters of our childhood were perfect for cozying up by the window in a baggy sweater with a good book and a mug of sweet, steaming hot chocolate. Although winters are getting warmer every year, there’s no denying that people still love to relive their memories of sipping on a mug of rich, hot cocoa made with shaved chocolate and creamy milk.
3. Ice Cream
Get your commercial refrigerators and freezers ready because ice cream will bring the house down. Seriously, who doesn’t love ice cream? There’s a mile-long list of weird and wacky ice cream flavors from cornbread to cilantro, but most people will still line up for the classics, such as vanilla, chocolate, and mint chocolate chip.
4. Mashed Potatoes
A generous helping of creamy, velvety mashed potatoes makes the best side dish to any entrée out there. Or you can just serve it on its own, in the same way that many people eat it alone at home. The secret to making the best-mashed potatoes is using Yukon gold potatoes. These are the best potatoes for mashing and won’t leave your customers wanting for more. Combine freshly boiled, still-hot Yukon potatoes with plenty of butter, and then add cream to give it a rich, silky texture.
5. Mac ‘n Cheese
No list of comfort foods would be complete without good, ol’ mac ‘n cheese. Everyone loves mac ‘n cheese because 1.) it’s easy to make, and 2.) you can customize it to your liking. You can use all kinds and combinations of melting cheeses, so you don’t have to choose from gruyere, gouda, fontina, brie, feta, cheddar, or mozzarella. You can use them all or just one or two if you like. You can also throw in all sorts of extras, such as bacon, lobster, spinach, mushrooms, or even guacamole or pumpkin. There’s no shortage of the things you can do with a mac ‘n cheese, but as long as you’re high on the cheesiness ratio, you’re always good.