When you think of the holidays, you probably conjure images of chilly nights, beautiful decorations and warm, hearty family dinners at the dining table. It’s an image that many of us have grown up with, and it’s one of the most beloved parts of the holiday season. During this time of year, capturing that magic in your restaurant is easier than you may think, particularly if you incorporate some staple holiday dishes into your menu.
Here are 10 menu item ideas to use for your restaurant during the holidays.
Sporting English roots, mince pies (or mincemeat pies) are a sweet and savory treat that’s perfect for Christmastime. These confections are made with a filling consisting of dried fruits like apples, cherries, figs and rich spices. Mince pies are also rather versatile, as you can make it to suit your restaurant’s aesthetic; you could serve thick slices or mini mince pies, or you could go with a traditional recipe or mix things up and add an unconventional flavor. Either way, make it your own, and watch as your guests enjoy an old classic.
Perfect for at-table service or if you’re hosting a buffet, glazed ham is a Christmas favorite. You can keep things simple by adding a sweet honey or brown sugar glaze over your baked spiral ham, or adorn it with pineapple slices and maraschino cherries. Glazed ham is a popular meal to serve during the holidays, as it’s often tricky to cook at home for some; when done right it’s an absolute favorite.
An absolute must-have dish for many are tamales, and it’s not difficult to see why. A traditional Mexican menu item, tamales consist of a corn dough (or “masa”) that usually have a meat or cheese filling which is wrapped in either a corn husk or banana leaf and cooked for hours. The result is a hearty, warm and savory dish that’s almost too easy to eat. Tamales can be topped with sour cream, avocados or hot sauce, and they pair well with side dishes like beans and rice.
Buche de Noel
Buche de Noel, or Yule Log cake, is a traditional French dessert that’s essentially a form of the Swiss roll cake, but decorated to look like a log. This cake symbolizes the yule log that would be burned on Christmas Eve for good luck and prosperity in the New Year. Consisting of sponge cake, chocolate buttercream frosting and a cream filling, the cake can be simply decorated, or feature elaborate marzipan or fondant decorations. When served by the slice, you can include one of the decorations, or sprinkle powdered sugar on top for that snow-covered effect.
An often underrated holiday entree, Beef Wellington is a meal fit for a king but at an affordable cost. The perfect combination of fillet steak, parma ham, pâté, duxelles and puff pastry, Beef Wellington is another English classic that is sure to wow your customers. It’s also another versatile dish, as the filling can be customized for a bold avant garde experience, or to incorporate global flavors. And the best part is that it’s inexpensive to make, but provides incredible payoff.
A traditional dish during Hanukkah, latkes are lightly fried potato pancakes that symbolize the miracle of the holiday. Made with ground potatoes, onions, matzo flour and eggs respectively, latkes are an easy menu item to whip up and serve with sour cream, horseradish, applesauce and top with green onions. They’re perfectly warm and filling and definitely easy to eat up, so make sure you have all your ingredients in stock!
Spiced Hot Chocolate
Who doesn’t love a warm mug of hot chocolate during the holidays? Whether you offer it to-go or as a gourmet dessert, spiced hot chocolate is sure to be a hit this season in your restaurant. This holiday-specific hot chocolate can be as simple or as rich as you want it to be; add a dash of cinnamon for a pinch of spice, or take it up a notch and add additional complimentary spices like nutmeg, allspice, ginger, cardamom or even a sprinkling of cayenne pepper. If you want to make it even richer and incorporate classic Christmas flavors, use eggnog instead of whole milk for that extra little something.
Serve up a hefty side of black-eyed peas to bring good fortune in the New Year, while also offering your guests a warm, comforting meal. This is the perfect menu item to serve up as either a side or an entrée with some cornbread and collard greens, and is further accentuated when cooked with bacon or pork and topped with a hot sauce.
Another comforting dish, sweet potatoes are a tasty item to include on your holiday menu. Sweet potatoes can be prepared in a number of ways: bake it with mini marshmallows on top for a substantially sweet experience, serve it as a savory hash with a cool and creamy sauce, or make a pie filling out of it. You can even incorporate mashed sweet potatoes into a nourishing breakfast bowl. The possibilities are endless, so have fun finding a way to use mashed sweet potatoes this season.
Perfect for a seasonal drink specials menu, mulled wine is an excellent hot beverage to serve for the holidays to the 21 and over crowds. Incorporating full-bodied red wine, mulling spices and citrus notes, mulled wine is bright and flavorful, and has that distinctly Christmastime taste. The best part is that it’s easy to make, and in large quantities too, as it’s sure to be a hit with your guests this season.
Getting ready for the most wonderful time of the year? Take a look at our tips for promoting your restaurant this season and these decorating ideas to really deck the halls this year. And for when the season lulls, see how you can keep your restaurant busy during winter.