Summer is here, and with it, the demand for a fresh, seasonal menu – suitable for eating alfresco.
A recent study of 250 casual dining restaurants around the UK found that 72 percent were questioned by customers about seasonal menus on a weekly basis, more so during the summer.
Customers are becoming more aware of the benefits of a seasonal diet, with television shows like Channel 4 series’ Food Unwrapped confirming that the fresher the food, the more vitamins, phytonutrients and minerals it contains.
As we head towards the summer solstice, this year taking place on the 21 June, we are enjoying lighter evenings – so alfresco dining is where it’s at. When eating outside customers are looking for dishes which feel fresh, light, and most of all, seasonal. And of course, barbequed food is always a popular offer in the Summer too.
Don’t worry if your restaurant doesn’t have an outdoor dining area, instead, offer a Summer takeout menu, so customers take their food to a park or any other sunny location. And if your customers choose to eat inside – with summer inspired dishes on the menu, you’ll be serving a slice of sunshine indoors.
50 percent of the UK’s food produce is being imported from abroad, but local, seasonal fayre in the UK currently includes delights such as: carrots, courgette, cucumber, lettuce, mint, nectarines, new potatoes, pak choi, pepper, pomegranate, potatoes, radish, radicchio, spring onions, spinach, strawberries, and watercress.
And more and more restaurants are utilizing in-season produce. With so many fresh and flavourful ingredients on-hand, Chefs are cooking-up wonderful, seasonal combinations to transform a menu into a Summer flavour sensation!
Casual dining restaurants Bills, Pizza Express, Zizzi’s, and Yo! Sushi all add new dishes to their menus during the summer period to take advantage of what’s in season. Bills add a range of vibrant salads, like watermelon and feta salad or Thai noodle salad with mango.
Casual dining restaurant The Clerkenwell Kitchen is well known for offering seasonal menus – focused on fresh and local ingredients. They source all their food locally, receiving fresh produce every morning including fish, meat, vegetables, eggs and milk. Dishes from their June (2017) menu include seasonal Courgette Fritters with Cucumber, Tomato, Spring Onion and Sumac Mint Dressing, Pea and Asparagus soup and Roasted Pepper, Cherry Tomato, Black Olive and Basil salad.
In the Summer, many restaurants like to offer salads and vegetable dishes to their customers, as they know they are looking to get into shape ready for their summer holidays. Salads are no longer a boring combination of lettuce and tomato, instead they’re exciting new melodies of superfood staples, spiralized veggies and super-fresh, seasonal ingredients. Salads are a fantastic food to eat outside – and to showcase seasonal ingredients. They also make the perfect side to barbequed foods.
For many people, the smoky smell and chargrilled flavours of a barbeque are quintessentially Summer. For foodservice operators, and restaurateurs, the fantastic part of offering barbequed dishes is the variation of food they can offer – from chicken wings to salmon fillets, barbeques have something to please everyone.
Whether you are serving barbequed food, or in-season salads, or both, you’re going to need to think about how you serve them. Alfresco eating requires food wrapping and packaging that allows customers to eat food easily and comfortably in an outside environment. For salads that you are offering for take out, we recommend an rPET salad container with a lid – or perhaps our Combione packaging, where the paperboard base and plastic lid are fused together.
For freshly grilled barbequed food with salad on the side you’re going to require paper plates, napkins and plastic knives and forks. Chinet plates from Supplier Huhtamaki are great quality and hold hot and wet food well. Our exclusive brand cutlery from Good 2 Go is strong enough to tackle barbequed meats – and provides great value for money.
And don’t forget, with outside dining comes outside drinking – think Pimms, cocktails and refreshing pints of shandy. Check out our ranges of plastic pint and half pint tumblers, as well as disposable stemware, designed for serving drinks outside, crack resistant and fully disposable.