Warning: this article will make you hungry… for breakfast.
Have you noticed breakfast menus have gotten much more creative lately? Even at my local diner they’ve added a new “Thanksgiving” eggs benedict, which is served on top of stuffing instead of bread, turkey instead of Canadian bacon, and a dollop of cranberry sauce on top. This is from a place that a year ago thought a “breakfast special” meant you wanted an extra egg with your bacon and toast.
Breakfast items are becoming a major money maker for restaurants, even if they aren’t sold before noon, and the trend is prompting traditional breakfast places to get creative and expand their repertoire way beyond bacon and eggs.
Breakfast Menu Ideas to Inspire You
For example, Succotash, in Providence, Rhode Island calls themselves a “bruncheonette” serving upscale breakfast dishes all day. Chicken and waffles is an easy one, but they also have dishes like the BBQ Pork Shoulder Benedict, which comes on thick toast and layered with pulled pork, cheddar, and caramelized onions. Taking on the traditional Monte Cristo sandwich, they have my favorite, the Brussels Belgian, stuffed with turkey, rosemary ham and swiss, between two Belgian waffles, covered in maple syrup. Drooling yet?
New breakfast menu ideas do come at a price though – and that’s chain restaurants jumping on the bandwagon. According to QSR, fast-food and fast-casual chains across the country have been upgrading their breakfast menus. For example, Taco Bell now has breakfast burritos, Chipotle is testing chorizo and vegetarian frittatas, and Dunkin Donuts has been testing new sandwiches, including a breakfast sandwich on a glazed doughnut instead of a bagel. QSR reports that, “The sandwich is a logical choice because the number of ingredients, preparation methods, and sauces can seem endless.”
Ice Cream for Breakfast
R’evolution in New Orleans has created a breakfast ice cream dish served on their brunch menu. According to NRN, “to make the dessert, cinnamon rolls are torn into pieces and infused into half-and-half to make a crème Anglaise that’s then spun into ice cream. When the ice cream reaches soft-serve consistency, candied bacon bits are folded in. The ice cream is served over crumbled biscuit that has been tossed with butter, sugar and orange zest and then toasted until crisp. It’s garnished with candied bacon.”
QSR reports that bacon is the most popular protein on breakfast sandwiches, appearing on 30% of breakfast sandwiches. But that’s not the only way to serve it. Restaurants are experimenting with Pints o’ Bacon and even Bacon Beer on tap!
Belgian (Flavored) Waffles
Waffles are all the rage, too. Eastern Standard in Boston has a traditional Belgian waffle on their menu, but the formula for creating it is anything but traditional: “crisp on the outside and moist on the inside, is flavored with vanilla bean, dark rum, and lemon and orange zest and is topping it with salted butter ice cream, toffee crumble and black currant syrup,” according to NRN.
BToo in Washington, DC, says on their website they offer the “full Belgian experience”, and perfect the art of making flavored waffles. The menu includes waffle toppings like an almond-flavored frangipane waffle with banana and beer caramel. However sweet isn’t the only flavor BToo knows; they offer an entire menu of mussels served with Belgian waffles.
Deconstructed Breakfast Options
To celebrate their first birthday, The Row Kitchen and Pub in Nashville went ahead and created an entirely new breakfast menu. They upgraded the coffee to be made in a French press, and all the ingredients are locally sourced. Their Midtown Bennie is a dish of “poached eggs on top of thinly sliced habanero cornbread and turnip greens with just a touch of Hollandaise.” They also have a Deconstructed Breakfast Parfait, described by Nashville food critic Abby White as “beautifully presented on a wood platter containing a heaping mug of Greek yogurt sidelined with dishes of local honey, fresh fruit, raisins, steel-cut oats and granola.”
Ways to Increase Breakfast Revenue
Are you inspired yet? It’s not difficult to upgrade your breakfast menu with new items, says Bethany Wall, foodservice analyst with market research firm Mintel. “The most important morning menus for restaurants that don’t have traditional early meals are those that use their signature items to create breakfast food. You have chicken restaurants capitalizing on their chicken and biscuits, and Mexican restaurants using tortillas and salsa. They are sticking to what they know.”
It’s less expensive too, says John Howeth, vice president of ingredient and commercial marketing for the American Egg Board. “With restaurant space and storage being critical, you want to add as few ingredients as possible to make the SKUs work harder.”