2009 Year in Review: Culinary creations

2009 Year in Review: Culinary creations

MENU ADDITIONS

RECESSION FARE

Hardee’s rolled out a Fried Bologna Biscuit sandwich with American cheese and folded eggs for $1.89 and for $3.59 as part of a combo meal with Hash Rounds. Owned by Carpinteria, Calif.-based CKE Restaurants Inc., the Hardee’s chain includes 1,915 restaurants.

INNOVATIVE

T.G.I. Friday’s introduced a Teriyaki Bacon Burger with a sweet soy teriyaki glaze, five-spice bacon, melted cheddar cheese, grilled pineapple, lettuce, crisp noodles and peanut sauce. It is available for $11.49 in New York City.

Hot Foods

BlackberriesCaramelDessert in jarsFish ribsFlatbreadsFood and beer pairingsFood and bourbon pairingsFood that looks like dirt

Fried chickenGreen “bamboo rice”HamburgersHandheld breakfast foodHibiscusHouse-made sodasHummusIceberg lettuceIndian cuisineKimcheeKorean cuisineLobsterMapleOatmealPeruvian cuisinePork bellyShared platesSmaller portions, lower pricesSour cherriesTapas and other Spanish foodVegetable cocktailsWaffles

Whiskey-based cocktailsYogurt

Manchu Wok, a 200-unit quick-service chain from Canada, unveiled a deep-fried cheesecake dessert made of warm cheesecake filling wrapped in a flaky crust. One piece is $1.79, or $1.29 with the purchase of a two- or three-item plate. Two pieces are $2.99.

Wildflower Bread Company introduced a Roasted Sweet Potato sandwich with mozzarella, fig confit, tomato, arugula, marinated fennel and balsamic vinaigrette on herb focaccia for $7.19. The 10-unit chain is based in Scottsdale, Ariz.

SUCCESSFUL

Rita’s Water Ice sold 1.4 million cups of Swedish Fish-flavored Italian Ice during a 30-day limited time offer this summer at more than 550 stores in 18 states. It was the most successful flavor launch in the history of the 25-year-old company, said a spokesperson. The regular size, 10-ounce cup sold for $2.21 on average.

LOBSTER MANIA

Uno Chicago Grill rolled out the Best of Summer Starring Lobster menu at its 200-units. The menu featured a lobster slider and a lobster roll comprising the meat from a 1.25-pound Maine lobster served either New England-style or with tarragon mayonnaise and bacon. The sliders were available in portions of two or three to a plate, priced at $13.29 and $18.29, respectively. The roll sold for $16.79.

Ruby Tuesday installed the new Lobster carbonara on its “seaside sensations” menu. Priced at $15.99 in Hamilton, N.J., and served on a modern rectangular-shaped plate, the preparation includes Parmesan cheese, butter and peas.

Panera Bread offered a $16.99 lobster sandwich with a half-pound of lobster meat as a limited-time-offer.

VEGETARIAN LOCAVORE

The 40-unit Burgerville chain introduced a Yukon & White Bean Basil Burger that consisted of a patty made from locally sourced great northern beans, mushrooms, brown rice, onions, oats, sun-dried tomatoes, molasses, herbs and Yukon gold potatoes. It was topped with basil mayonnaise, tomatoes and leaf lettuce and served on a nine-grain bun. It sold for $5.29 as a promotional dish.

MENU REVAMPS

Romano’s Macaroni Grill plans to “completely transform” their menu by May 2010 at its 200-plus domestic outlets. By then, every dish on the menu will have been reworked or brand new, said company officials.

The newest menu rolled out last month features a center-cut Lamb Spiedini with a grilled loin served on skewers with fresh rosemary, garlic olive oil and vegetables. It has 505 calories and sells for $15.99 in most markets. A new Italian Sausage Spiedini contains 775 calories and is priced at $8.99, Macaroni Grill said.

The improved seared scallops and wilted spinach salad contains 420 calories and 4 grams of saturated fat, as compared with the old recipe of 1,270 calories and 27 grams of saturated fat.

Dishes of the year

PIZZA OF THE YEAR: Prosciutto di Parma pizza from Motorino in Brooklyn, N.Y.

APPETIZER OF THE YEAR: Yellowfin sashimi with yuzu vinaigrette from Voice in Houston

SANDWICH OF THE YEAR: Pickled pepper deviled egg sandwich from Wild Eggs in Louisville, Ky.

DESSERT OF THE YEAR: Pecan pie sundae from Buttermilk Channel in Brooklyn, N.Y.

PASTA OF THE YEAR: Baked Pasta with Truffles from Capital Grille

SALAD OF THE YEAR: Grilled mackerel salad with garlic-chile-lime dressing from Double Crown in New York

The overhaul is being led by the chief executive Brad Blum, who was hired in December by owner Golden Gate Capital. Blum said the new items are designed to be more healthful and emphasize Italian-Mediterranean flavors. He also noted that many of the new items cost less to make.

The Cheesecake Factory Inc. rolled out its first kids’ menu for diners 10 and under. The new items range in price from $3.95 to $6.95 and include such dishes as two bite-sized sliders with fries; Southern-fried chicken sliders with fries; mini corn dogs with fries; pasta with various sauces or butter and Parmesan; a quesadilla with chicken; cheese or pepperoni pizza; grilled cheese; and grilled chicken with vegetables and potatoes. The dishes include a drink.

Known for its hefty portions, the 146-unit chain has argued in the past that the 200-plus menu offers something for everyone, including kids. This year, however, the company acknowledged that guests of all ages are seeking smaller portions and lower-price options. To address that need the chain’s new Small Plates & Snacks section of the menu was expanded this summer.