Creativity and a sense of pride are transforming the morning meal, according to chefs. What’s more, customers are asking for breakfast items all day long—and into the evening hours. Convenient choices are also in demand; you’ll see healthier options, too.
Omelets & More
Eggs are still the kings of breakfast, and omelets often rule.
- Add gyro meat and feta plus mozzarella for a Greek touch.
- A combination of pesto, roasted red pepper and cream cheese takes inspiration from Mediterranean cuisine.
- An open-faced version—packed with Sour Cream & Home Fries Topped w/Portobellos, Tomatoes, Bacon, Green Onions, Feta & Cheddar Cheese—is reportedly a favorite of Food Network’s Rachael Ray.
- Eggs Benedict? The usual ingredients aren’t quite exciting enough for some venues. They swap out Canadian bacon for cider-glazed pork. Or put a zap of chile in the Hollandaise sauce. Or ladle a purée of roasted cauliflower between the egg and the biscuit.
Juices and smoothies have powerful appeal for customers looking for a health boost at breakfast. Fruits, veggies, protein powders, herbs and spices—the choices and blends are almost endless.
- The California Avocado Commission created a recipe for a Potassium Power-Up Smoothie: ripe avocado plus orange juice, banana, honey and yogurt (californiaavocado.com).
- Research by NPD Group shows that brewed coffee sales are flat, but specialty coffees are increasing in popularity. Starbucks’ growth certainly points to the desire for “specialty.” Cold-brew coffee is also gaining favor, especially with millennials and men, thanks to its smoother, sweeter taste and higher level of caffeine. Some venues add spices and milk to formulate a signature beverage.
Bagels and muffins. Pancakes and waffles. Then there’s Thai peanut doughnut bites (Jelly, Denver). Customers are loving the new excitement in the carb category.
Another example: Griddle Café, with a top ranking on Yelp for L.A. You’ll find fun on this menu. One item is “Banananana” pancakes, brown-sugar baked bananas cooked inside buttermilk batter. Another Griddle Café take on flapjacks is loaded with coconut, oats, pecans and butterscotch chips. There’s even cookie-crusted French toast.
Shamrock’s own Brickfire Bakery® Brand can help you serve fresh Danish, bagels, breads and more. Ask your sales rep for product suggestions to fit your menu and your recipes.
Better for You
Packed with nutrition: that’s how some folks want to start their day. Whole grains in the pancakes, quinoa in the muffins, toasted walnuts atop waffles: there are many, many ways to add appeal.
- Give traditional oatmeal a healthy flavor boost from fresh, dried or sautéed fruit; nuts are good, too.
- Flaxseed and chia seeds team with things like nut butters, fruit and oats for breakfast “cookies” and “puddings,” two of the newest strategies to enjoy vitamins and minerals in a sneaky way, even for breakfast.
- “Sausage” made with lentils is yet another option.
- Could you create your own protein bar? A regional chain in Scottsdale, Ariz., Over Easy, is doing just that.
Meat! (& Fish)
- Turkey bacon is one alternative often listed on menus.
- “Healthier” sausages like Chicken Apple show no signs of losing favor.
- Housemade hash—sometimes including veggies like roasted zucchini—has staying power.
- More venues are offering chicken breast along with ham or bacon, for another, leaner choice.
- More use of proteins includes a burrito filled with scrambled eggs, brisket, potatoes, cheddar and sour cream.
- The chain Over Easy pokes link sausage onto skewers, dips them in waffle batter, and fries them to make Waffle Dogs.
- Smoked salmon makes a nice topping for a tartine, a toasted slice of sourdough also featuring a poached egg, fried capers and slivered onion.
- Do you offer the classic Bloody Mary? “Meat straws” are the latest, practical-and-tasty garnish, basically a hollowed-out beef stick.
- Other new ways to serve meat at brunch include lamb sausage, duck hash, even a short rib with fried egg and polenta.
Veg & Fruit
Don’t forget about these two, especially where healthy options are concerned.
- The French have often served a lemon-dressed green salad with quiche. You’ll now see American restaurants doing the same.
- Cornbread pudding with a blueberry compote makes a satisfying alternative to pancakes.
- Spicy Vegetarian Breakfast Nachos, anyone? That’s tofu scrambled with onions, bell peppers, chili and garlic powders, smoked paprika, cumin and black beans.
To continue in the mode of produce … Breakfast items can make good use of the special fresh fruit and vegetable bounty found any time of the year.
- Think spring with Markon green onions in the scrambled eggs, or a rhubarb coffee cake.
- Summertime? Top eggs with green tomato ketchup.
- Serve pumpkin pancakes in the fall, or gingerbread waffles. Both work well with an aromatic apple compote. Sweet potato tots make perfect sense for breakfast as well as lunch and dinner.
- Winter means root vegetables: roast them and include them in house-made hash.
Shamrock Foods’ Markon Brand of fruits and vegetables has a vast array of specialty products for your needs.
Even lunch/dinner-focused operators choose weekend brunch as their place to shine with breakfast items.
- Breakfast pot pie with rosemary gravy is delightful!
- Buffet, menu—or both? Great buffet choices that simplify things include make-ahead items such as egg casseroles and quiches, and French toast baked like a bread pudding.
- Frittata cups also simplify serving: slice potatoes and other savory ingredients, place in a muffin tin, and pop into the oven.
- Or go with Italian-inspired strata: cubed day-old bread + meat + veggies + condensed soup or sauce + seasonings, cooked in a baking dish and cut into servings.
- How about a build-your-own-waffle bar, like Grant Grill in San Diego? That means three or four waffle flavors and up to 25 toppings, both sweet and savory.
- Here’s a second clever idea, seen at The Bachelor Farmer (Minneapolis): wheel a cart with beverages and pastries to just-seated tables for almost instant gratification as customers peruse the menu.
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