This article first appeared in the 1 September 2005 issue of Restaurants & Institutions (R&I).
R&I is the USA's leading source of food and business-trend information and exclusive research on operators and restaurant patrons. Editorial coverage spans the entire foodservice industry, including chains, independent restaurants, hotels and institutions. To find out more about R&I, visit its website www.foodservice411.com
That six classic steakhouses rank among the first 25 of R&I’s Top 100 Independent Restaurants speaks to America’s love of beef. So strong is the bond between diners and steak that not even seafood specialists can afford to ignore it. Porterhouse and filet mignon are menued at New York City’s Nobu; Joe’s Stone Crab in Miami Beach serves boneless New York strip.
Steak dominates in midprice chains as well. T.G.I. Friday’s addition of Steakhouse Selects—New York strip, flat-iron or sirloin steak with choice of flavored butter sauce—is one of several beef promotions in the category this year. And from Chipotle Southwest Cheese Steak at Subway to Arby’s Sirloin Steakhouse Wrap, quick service meets steak demand too.
But meat lovers want more. Pork ribs are purchased by 44% of foodservice operators, according to the 2005 Menu Census. Veal, lamb and pork chops are popular not only at steakhouses; New York City’s Four Seasons offers a veal T-bone.
Baja Fresh Mexican Grill chain last month added pork carnitas—marinated with chipotle, pasilla and New Mexico chiles—to its menu. Junior’s, a classic delicatessen in New York City, moves upscale and south of the border with pork chops stuffed with apples and chorizo.
On the Menu
Meats make appearances from appetizers to entrées. Here are some preparation trends worth noting.
Roast beef, smoked Cheddar, lettuce, tomato, red onion and creamy horseradish sauce on Asiago-cheese demi baguette. —Panera Bread, multiple locations
Pot roast with grilled sweet onions, melted Cheddar cheese and horseradish sauce on onion bun. —Red Robin Gourmet Burgers & Spirits, multiple locations
Chino-Latino Steak: Charbroiled skirt steak with Thai tamarind sauce, served with grilled red onion, tomato and steamed rice. —The Cheesecake Factory, multiple locations
Cuban coffee-smoked ribs with guajillo-chile barbecue sauce. —rumjungle, Las Vegas
Kobe Beef Specials
Kobe rib-eye with yuzu-cilantro broth. —Tao Asian Bistro, New York City
Kobe prime rib. —Gibsons Bar Steakhouse, Chicago
R&I’s 2005 Menu Census finds that most operators purchase beef and pork in bulk rather than portioned: