Monday, November 23, 2009

Recession Menus

It's a phenomenon I've noticed this past year, maybe year and a half since this recession began - recession menu items, and its rampant, a sign of the times, a sign that this is what we can afford to eat now, what restaurants can afford to stock in their pantries and not be left holding the bag if customers don't come in... they don't end up with a bunch of fresh lobsters on their hands, or wild game, like elk tenderloins and buffalo rib eye steaks. All they will have is some hamburger meat and dinner rolls and some other cheap cuts of meat that people never saw on menus before, but now... now it is everywhere.
First, let me list what I am talking about - you see these menu items EVERYWHERE!
Sliders - ubiquitous. There's not a menu in a restaurant or restaurant bar that won't feature these little mini-hamburgers done with cute buns and a tiny patty. And most people like them because they are a fan of burgers, and this is a way they can eat burgers in a bar instead of in their car after going through the drive-through.
Braised pork belly - no one ate this fatty cut of meat before, but now, it is a staple on almost every menu - everyone puts this puppy in a crock pot, fills it with a braising liquid and leaves it there for several hours, and voila - braised pork belly, nice and lush and rich and never dry.
Braised short ribs - the other day, I heard a radio ad for a big high end steak house chain inviting folks to come in for their value menu which features this new addition - would you want to go to Ruths Chris and eat braised short rib?
Braised lamb shank - you see the pattern here - braised meats. Cheap cuts cooked long and slow, just like your momma used to make 'em!
Truffle mac n cheese (or 4 cheese mac n cheese) - this is Kraft dinner all grown up, in other words, macaroni or other short pasta in a casserole with cheese sauce and grated cheese, with a light drizzle of truffle oil.
Okay, that's all I can think of at the moment, but you get the idea. It isn't that I don't like these foods, it is that these menu items seem to crop up everywhere these days, even when it doesn't really fit the restaurant. But it is what restaurants must to these days to keep up with the demand for inexpensive menu choices - so I don't blame them. It just makes me want to throw up my arms when I see sliders, pork belly, short ribs, and mac n cheese on pretty much every menu I see these days!
Let's hope for better days in the near future so our menus can show a little more diversity again. Thank you!


Samantha Dugan said...

I can deal with sliders, I like those really but damn those freaking short ribs! Over it already, long over it!

Amy said...

All the items you mentioned are favorites of mine, and I think they allow for spending more on the wine. Here, in Dallas, I haven't really noticed "recession" food so much, but the wine lists are very fair and diverse if you know where to look. Beef is king here, in all forms, so I am loving the gourmet burgers. Hope you have a great season for German wine.

Nancy Deprez said...

Hi Sam and Amy - yes ultimately the foods mentioned on the list are tasty, and I do order them, and agree, they do leave more $ for spending on tasty drinks.