The first quarter of the year is typically slow, no matter where your restaurant is located. After New Year’s and Valentine’s Day celebrations, diners tend to hibernate, leaving half-empty dining rooms on weekends—and even quieter nights during the week. But the next few weeks is when the tide turns.
With exciting events upcoming, what better excuse to revamp your dishes than with some flavorful, on-trend sauces. Remember, sauces are what jazz your proteins up, and many can be used interchangeably in unexpected ways. Avoid drowning the plates and use a lighter touch to bring out the deeper flavors of the main ingredients, while pairing beverages with the saucing rather than the protein, pumping that check average.
Technically, It’s Still Winter
In a lot of places, at least. Though your menu may still be brimming with braised meats and heavier chops, amp cold-weather dishes up with spice, tang, and a little sweetness. There are as many varieties of mustard sauces as there are mustards, so experiment. Lighter, whole-grain mustard sauce works beautifully with pork tenderloin; Dijon mustard sauce works best with steak. Creamy horseradish-spiked sauces will also perk up any roast—but again—don’t blow out the profile of the dish.
And finally, though a lot of restaurants may be tempted to serve a version of Guinness glaze around this time of the year, consider using the famous Irish stout in a BBQ sauce; spiked with orange zest, chili powder, brown sugar, and served on the side.
Though sometimes challenging to menu, seafood sauces speak of elegance and also allow restaurants to charge accordingly. Cajun crawfish sauced dishes will sell like hot cakes for those in the mood to let the good times roll; if crawfish isn’t an option in your area, substitute shrimp or capitalize on luxury with lobster. All of these work with fish of course, like snapper or salmon, sauteed or roasted.
If you want to elevate your roast chicken for spring, consider a classic velouté. Known as one of the French mother sauces, they usually employ clear chicken, veal or pork stock thickened with a little cream and egg yolks. Switch it up here by using seafood stock for a unique take, feeling rich yet light at the same time.
On-Trend for Vegetarians
Truly everywhere, 2022 is all about turmeric. This mispronounced spice (TER-mer-ic) is recognized for its healthful, anti-inflammatory properties and is turning up in a seemingly unlimited variety of cooking applications. Satisfy your vegetarian clientele by using it as a key component sauce. Combined with a little carrot and ginger, coconut milk or Greek yogurt, turmeric’s warm, peppery flavor works especially well served with roasted cauliflower, potato, and root vegetable-centric dishes.