A new report released by Technomic examines the menus of 100 independent restaurants across the U.S to identify new food and beverage trends currently taking shape. The report finds these restaurants preparing dishes in innovative ways, one of which involves the use of cola or other beverages as a primary ingredient. Coffee, tea, beer, soda and spirits are all being featured on independent restaurant menus in new and unique ways. Interesting examples of menu items featuring beverages as ingredients include:

Blueberry Guinness Cheesecake from Walter’s (Portland, ME)

Bananas Foster French Toast—Bacardi-spiked caramelized bananas, challah and vanilla-bean chantilly from Frontier (Chicago, IL)

These beverages are contributing spicy, sweet, tart and savory flavors to dishes, and operators are taking advantage of the flavor recognition from these beverages when used as ingredients.

“Chefs have long been using flavored drinks in various preparation methods, but the way beverages are being used on today's independent menus is helping to redefine the boundaries between comfort food and gourmet cuisine,” says Technomic Editorial Manager Laura McGuire. “Using soda or beer as part of the preparation adds casualness to the dish, even when the proteins or other ingredients are uncommon. These independent restaurants are revisiting comfort food and putting contemporary twists on old themes.”

To help restaurant operators and suppliers understand trends that are taking shape in the world of independent restaurants, Technomic has released the Independent Insights Report.

Independent Insights is a bi-annual report that spotlights the independent restaurant segment. Technomic’s industry experts examine 100 independent restaurant menus and extrapolate 25 leading trends, providing insights and applications for foodservice industry professionals. Restaurant concepts examined range from food trucks to fine dining. Subscribers will gain valuable insight into trends that will eventually make their way from the independent landscape and into mainstream restaurant chains.