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Kruse Report: Potatoes prove to be powerful on menus

Editor’s Note: In The Kruse Report, a new feature on, food trend expert Nancy Kruse looks at what’s shaping menus across the country.

Sometimes the most creative culinary solutions are hiding in plain sight. Take the potato: The sturdy tuber hasn’t simply weathered the recession, it has positively thrived. Its presence on chain restaurant menus grew a remarkable 7 percent last year, according to the U.S. Potato Board.

While much of that growth surely reflects added volumes of French fries served at burgeoning burger specialists, a substantial number of operators have weighed in with alternative treatments that use the veggie’s versatility to add value and vitality to the side dish category.

Some examples are listed below. More are in the slide show.

Independent approaches:
• Chorizo-potato croquettes at Cantina 1511 in Charlotte, N.C.
• Kimchi-mashed potatoes at E3rd Steakhouse in Los Angeles
• Cast-iron loaded Yukon gold potatoes at Jasper’s in Austin, Texas
• Pulled pork shoulder poutine at the Paramount Room in Chicago

Chain reactions:
• Grilled steak salad with hash browns at Champps
• Homemade BBQ potato chips at Golden Corral
• Garlic-Parmesan mashed potatoes at Olive Garden
• Baked potato pizza with chives at Pizza Inn

Nancy Kruse, president of the Kruse Company, is a menu trends analyst based in Atlanta. Pick up the March 7 issue of Nation's Restaurant News to read more from Kruse about creative uses of potatoes. 

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