It’s Good to Share!
Sharing dishes are the perfect way to bring people together this autumn and boost income for all types of outlets. They work for everyone, so if you don’t offer sharing dishes, now is the time to grab a piece of the action…
As the temperature cools and customers crave heartier dishes, mixing up your autumn casual dining menu to offer a variety of dishes that go beyond soups, toasties and jacket potatoes will help you stand out from the crowd. Instead, why not offer spicy chicken wings, beef nachos or warm pittas with dips as part of your menu? Sharing dishes are perfect for a daytime graze, as nibbles to accompany evening drinks (and encourage customers to stay for more) or for a casual, social dining experience.
What to serve
Experiment with different sizes (according to your establishment) and base your sharing dishes on your clientele. Get it right, and it can set you apart from the competition.
• Go for on-trend flavours such as bacon – for example, a porky platter featuring BBQ pulled pork sliders, pork pies, crackling, pigs in blankets served with sweet potato fries and Heinz Baconnaise dip
• Mix up your platters or boards with a variety of meat and fish
• Singular option boards/platters like chips, cheese or mini-pies work well
• Put a local spin on your tapas or bar bites menu by using regional ingredients such as Bury black pudding fritters or Morecambe Bay shrimps
• Have vegetarian and vegan options available
Finding a cost effective way to serve on-trend food is becoming increasingly important as operators look to appeal to rising expectations when it comes to dining out of home. Customers want dishes that don’t break the bank but still give them a sense of being part of the ‘foodie’ movement. The list of sharing dishes is endless, so you can keep it fresh by changing your offer regularly. Give customers the option to personalise their choice by offering a choice of sauces, toppings, salads and sides. Chicken wings are a perfect way to include customisation on menus with minimal cost. Heinz’s popular range of 57 sauces makes the perfect marinade or sauce accompaniment. As well as adding a premium, they also encourage repeat visits as diners see brands being used that they trust.
From a trio of desserts to an upsized sundae, sharing desserts are fun, sociable and allow you to charge a premium price. They also draw in those customers who would normally skip dessert. The only difficulty is getting the number of spoons per table right! According to the latest M&C Allegra Eating Out Report, on average, a consumer will eat out 9.2 times per month, which is equivalent to one in every 10 meals. “This offers a captive opportunity for restaurants to use a dessert menu to encourage people to stay longer and increase spend per head,” said Sarah Robb, channel marketing manager at Premier Foods. “And with the Food to Go market accelerating and expected to grow by 3.8% this year* caterers can tap into this by providing convenient dessert solutions to encourage people to buy something extra and increase spend.”
Homemade vs. bought in
Although some caterers look to par-baked or pre-packed desserts to cope with the time restraints, it is in fact far more cost effective to prepare desserts from scratch or by using mixes. For time-saving options, McDougalls Flour Based Mix range offers chefs a wide range of freshly baked goods. The sweet options include McDougalls Plain Sponge Mix, Chocolate Cookie Mix, Chocolate Fudge Brownie Mix and Flapjack Mix.
What to serve
• A boozy treat! – for the non driving adults, let them finish their evening like the Italians do with a drop of booze in their dessert. What could be better? To make it a premium experience, why not serve a Whiskey pear tart with a Champagne sorbet in a shot glass alongside a tiny tiramisu?
• On trend – doughnuts are the new cupcakes as new flavours and toppings are being experimented with. Easy to make as ring or filled, use McDougalls Soft Bap Mix and serve sprayed with sugar or with a chocolate dip. They are ideal for two, four or six people to share.
• Be traditional – there is nothing nicer than warm apple pie and custard but sadly it ain’t practical for a board – until now! Ambrosia Frozen Custard pots are a perfect solution as the stand-alone sauce can accompany a slice of pie – spooned out as and when desired. Perfect as a romantic dessert for two.
• Super sundaes – sundaes are a winning combo for adults and kids alike – and their popularity doesn’t appear to be melting! Mix up the flavours and if you add confectionary brands, you can charge a premium price. If you want to make your own ice cream, Bird’s Ice Cream Mix is easy to prepare and can go straight into the freezer. A modern twist on the traditional ice cream sundae are shakes – quick and easy to put together, load them with whipped cream and toppings. Have different size bowls so you can build a sundae for two, four or even 10 people, make sure you decorate them and have enough long-handled spoons!