US flavor profiles infiltrate UK seafood menus

Seafood will be featured more on U.K. restaurant menus in 2015, thanks to Britons’ growing desire for Cajun and Creole flavor as well as local and regional cuisine.

In fact, those two trends top Technomic’s top 2015 U.K. food and restaurant trends.

“The U.K. has a strong connection to locally sourced foods and food transparency. Consequently, restaurants are looking to their own local cuisine for inspiration,” Rachel Royster, senior coordinator of editorial content for foodservice research and consulting firm Technomic, told SeafoodSource.

To that end, restaurants and pubs are introducing avant-garde seafood dishes that reflect local and regional cuisines. For example, The Star Inn the City in York features Seared Scallops with North Lincolnshire Smoked Eel Filet and mussels prepared with Yorkshire lager. Chef Andrew Pern, director of the The Star Inn Harome, opened the restaurant a year ago to “promote the same kind of ideology focused on locally sourced food,” said Sam Wheatley, manger of The Star Inn the City.

“Everyone likes that idea of locality; people like to know where their food and drinks are from. Here, we are trying to use modern cooking techniques alongside local Yorkshire dishes. It is not the normal English cuisine; it is very high end,” Wheatley said.

Another major trend that will impact seafood on menus in the U.K. is the growth in Creole and Cajun flavors.

“Look for smoky and spicy flavors to lead culinary innovation, with inspiration found in U.S. regional Creole and Cajun fares, as well as the increased use of ethnic condiments, sauces and peppers that pack a punch,” according to a Technomic statement.

In fact, U.S.-based Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. just opened its first British outpost in London. Plus, The Bayou and The Lockhart, new restaurants in London, feature Southern U.S. cuisine. The Bayou’s menu features Lobster and Crawfish Macaroni Pie, Blackened Catfish and Seafood Jambalaya. Meanwhile, The Lockhart offers seafood dishes such as Shrimp and Grits, Catfish Gumbo and Crawfish Dip with Cream Cheese and Toast.
Technomic says Seafood is also fitting into another major U.K. restaurant trend for 2015 — “expect the unexpected.” “Consumers’ constant demand for innovation is resulting in some unexpected changes to restaurant operations and menus,” the statement said.

For example, fish and chips, a “staunchly traditional dish,” is evolving at some concepts, according to Royster. Gilgamesh in London has a unique twist on the British staple: a Japanese-style Fish and Fat Chips Tempura featuring sea bass, thick-cut chips and a creamy spicy dressing. “Other innovative offerings can be found at Dante’s Weird Fish, where they menu fish and chips with chipotle sauce,” Royster said.
While Technomic’s data shows that U.K. consumers have been eating less seafood in restaurants over the past year, the firm predicts that seafood will become a bigger player.

“I think seafood will be growing on menus as a reflection of the current lobster frenzy, as well as several independent fish and chip shops and more upscale seafood restaurants that are cropping up in London and in other major cities,” Royster said.


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