Seafood starters, snacks grow on UK menus
Similar to U.S. restaurants, U.K. restaurants are adding more seafood snacks and starters to their menus, particularly oysters and ceviches.
In the second quarter of 2014, oyster appetizers grew a significant 18 percent on U.K. restaurant menus, while tuna tartar dishes grew 5 percent, according to foodservice research and consulting firm Technomic.
“We are seeing seafood in general growing on menus due to the nation’s growing awareness of healthy options. Seafood as a snack or small plate starter has therefore grown over the last few years,” Rachel Royster, editorial content coordinator for Technomic, told SeafoodSource.
Meanwhile, in the U.S., new menu research from Technomic of 5,000 independents and 2,000 chains shows a 7.5 percent increase of oyster items year over year between the first quarter 2013 and the first quarter of 2014, along with a significant growth in oyster bars.
“A lot of oysters on the half shell are being showcased in bars,” said Darren Tristano, executive VP at Technomic. An oyster bar “has become a great way to increase sales pretty inexpensively. Operators can make some decent money by opening it just a few days a week.”
In the U.K., independent restaurants and pubs are featuring unique seafood snacks and starters on their menus more than chains. “I don’t doubt that we will see growth of seafood on starters/apps menus in more unique ways at independent restaurants (who are always one-step ahead of the pack). However, the growth of these items is still slow at larger U.K. chains, which prefer the traditional breaded/battered fish and prawns,” Royster said.
For example, The Vintage at Drygate in Glasgow offers Octopus Pastrami and Hopped Sea Trout Gravadlax as starters, while The Castle pub in London features salmon crackling as part of its Fisherman’s Sharing Board.
Other notable seafood starters introduced recently include Salmon Ceviche and Scallop Sashimi from London-based Chez Bruce, Thai Steamed Mussels and Salt Cod Branade from Balans Café Bars and Restaurants in London and the Miller and Carter steakhouse chain added Lime Marinated Salmon Crustini.