Diversifying Your Steakhouse Menu

Steakhouses will always have a place in the restaurant landscape. With so many options crowding the market, restaurant operators have to differentiate their steakhouse menus to attract and retain customers.

New cuts of meat are one of the National Restaurant Association’s (NRA) top predicted trends for 2019 and provide a strategic approach to distinguish your offerings. With the increasing demand for a broader range of options, adventurous flavors, and transparency, it’s crucial that your restaurant leverages these trends and drives profits with trending alternative cuts and local, sustainable, and humanely raised meat varieties.

Leveraging Your Labels

Grass-Fed Beef

More than ever, consumers are demanding the “story” behind their meat. Grass-fed beef appeals to consumers because it’s humanely raised, provided a grass-fed, forage diet, and offers more health benefits than grain-fed varieties. For these reasons, the NRA predicts grass-fed beef will outpace other beef on menus in just four years, with an expected growth of 189%. And according to Nielsen, customers are willing to pay more for meat that’s ethically raised, with transparent labels such as grass-fed driving dollar growth.

Add grass-fed beef varieties to your menu to enhance both the flavor and perception of your center-of-the-plate offerings. With a healthier nutritional content than grain-fed, grass-fed beef contains twice as many omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants. Since grass-fed beef is leaner than grain-fed, it also cooks quicker; train your chefs to cook grass-fed beef with a watchful eye to avoid overcooking. The distinct, robust qualities of the meat can stand up to bold flavors, so don’t be afraid to put your signature spin on grass-fed varieties with marinades, rubs, and sauces and applications such as smoking and grilling.

All-Natural Heritage Pork

A staple on steakhouse menus, pork is a premium feature that will capture customers’ attention if it’s humanely sourced. All-natural heritage pork is often raised on smaller farms and is unconfined, resulting in happier, healthier animals that produce less environmental pollution. Pigs that roam free in a low-stress environment have superior flavor because the animals are calm, allowing for blood to flow more easily and distribute juices throughout. Humanely raised pigs also have more fat, making the meat flavorful and moist. Heritage pork that’s well marbled and juicier than grain-fed varieties requires less cooking time, and has a more vibrant color and “porkier” taste, so simply seasoning with salt and pepper goes a long way. With such a high-quality product, the meat can speak for itself. For a seasonal pork offering that efficiently cross-utilizes ingredients for minimal waste, check out our Watermelon & Tamari Brined Grilled Pork Loin recipe.

Cuts Beyond the Basics

Offer customers a unique beef-eating experience by menuing contemporary, captivating cuts of meat. Less-familiar cuts promote utilizing more parts of the animal, allowing you to merchandise them as sustainable and waste reducing. Serving alternative cuts also positions your operation as a leader in culinary trends, paving the way for new cuts to become more prevalent on menus. Consider creating steakhouse signatures utilizing new, alternative cuts to deliver more flavorful, value-added offerings that will stand out from the competition.

Coulotte

Also known as top sirloin cap, coulotte is recognized as one of the top 10 most tender cuts of beef. It’s a juicy, lean cut that’s derived from the sirloin tip, making it ideal for presentations similar to sirloin steak. Bring out its rich taste and texture by braising, roasting, pan searing, or grilling. Simply pan sear with a signature seasoning, or further its appeal with an ethnic flavor profile. Marinate coulotte in a yogurt-za’atar mixture and serve with a shishito-pistachio skhug (Middle Eastern hot sauce).

Denver

A center cut taken from the chuck/shoulder, Denver steak comes from the most heavily marbled muscle, making it remarkably tender with immensely rich flavor. Grilling, sautéing, braising, and slow cooking are excellent methods for this trendy cut. Highlight the decadence of Denver steak by coating with rosemary-smoked salt and utilizing the reverse searing method – a technique that starts in a low-temperature oven and finishes with a crisp pan sear. The slow roast allows the tender Denver cut to cook gradually, producing an even and juicy result with minimum effort.

Sirloin Bavette

Also known as sirloin flap, sirloin bavette is a thin, well-marbled cut from the bottom sirloin. This approachable cut appeals to guests because of its similarities to the desirable, high-value hanger steak. As with hanger steak, marinating bavette will help highlight and tenderize its hearty texture. The bavette benefits from high-temperature, dry heat preparation techniques such as grilling, broiling, and searing. Showcase its natural, beefy flavors by braising in butter, shallots, and garlic, then drizzling with bright chimichurri.

With concern for sustainability, environmental impact, and health awareness at an all-time high, highlighting the attributes of alternative, grass-fed, and all-natural cuts will make an impact in differentiating your steakhouse menu. Meat varieties that go beyond traditional, long-standing cuts and have humane labels will help broaden customers’ palates and make them feel like they’re supporting the environment, their community, and a trustworthy brand.