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Tropical Flavors Give Menus a Punch

Tropical Smoothie Café serves the flavors that customers crave. The Avacolada Smoothie, an innovative combination of avocado, pineapple, spinach, kale, coconut and lime, is just one of our better-for-you menu items that delivers great taste with a nutritious punch.

Publisher: Nation’s Restaurant News

Date: March 10, 2015

It may be our country’s harshest winter in recent history, but on restaurant menus, it has been downright tropical. Chains and independents alike are giving menus a tropical punch with ingredients such as pineapple and coconut, according to Technomic Inc.

Inspired by the cuisine of Cuba, fast-casual chain Corner Bakery Cafe recently introduced a limited-time offer Sriracha Black Bean Soup, made with black beans, onions and garlic, vegetable stock, coconut milk, Sriracha and lime.

“We were looking to create a soup that would pair well with the Cuban Press [Panini],” said Ric Scicchitano, senior vice president, food and beverage at Corner Bakery.

“When thinking about Cuban flavors, black beans immediately came to mind; adding the coconut milk provided a light tropical flavor, and the Sriracha sauce provided just a hint of spice to tie the flavors together.”

Tropical fruit and spice also come together in Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill & Bar’s new Sweet Chile Brisket Sliders, which features an Asian chile sauce and diced pineapple. And PB&G at the Four Seasons Resort Orlando, which opened in August, offers the Tacos Al Pastor, made with spice-marinated rotisserie lamb, radish, onion and pineapple.

The Cecil, an Afro-Asian-American brasserie in New York’s Harlem, uses pineapple and coconut in a number of dishes on its menu. Among the many options are Collard Greens Salad, with spiced cashews and coconut dressing; Roasted Poussin Yassa, served with coconut curry stick rice, seeded long beans and bourbon dried fruit compote; Pineapple Black Fried Rice; and Coconut Brown Rice.

Rice also gets a tropical treatment at The Bazaar by José Andrés in Miami’s South Beach, where creamy coconut rice with sepia, tamarind and ginger is served in half of a coconut shell.

At Miss Lily’s in New York City’s SoHo neighborhood, it’s the side dishes that get a touch of the tropics. Miss Lily’s serves baked yams with coconut glaze and charred pineapple slaw with its Jerk Pork.

These far-away fruits have also been featured in smoothies and shakes for some time, but the trend isn’t showing any signs of slowing down, according to Technomic.

Nashville-based Back Yard Burgers is currently serving a limited-time Coconut Cream Milkshake, made with hand-dipped ice cream and milk, blended with coconut syrup and vanilla custard cream sauce. Starting April 6, the burger chain will debut a limited time Pineapple Upside Down Shake.

Meanwhile, now through April 26, Atlanta-based Tropical Smoothie Cafe is offering its new Avocolada Smoothie, made with avocado, pineapple, spinach, kale, coconut and lime.

Operators also continue to use coconut water or pineapple juice to create innovative cocktails.

Gilbert, Ariz.-based Native Grill & Wings in August debuted Blue Suede Shoes, a blend of Three Olives’ Elvis Presley Coconut Water Vodka, peach schnapps, blue curacao, amaretto, milk and club soda.

At Jove Kitchen & Bar in The Four Seasons Resort Palm Beach, a classic Lime Rickey (gin, lime and soda) has been tropically transformed into the Cointreau Cucumber Coconut Rickey, made with Cointreau, lime, fresh mint, coconut water, cucumber juice and club soda.

Last summer, Chicago-based Flat Top Grill began offering the Rumchata Colada, made with Rumchata, Cruzan Estate Coconut Rum and pineapple juice and garnished with a slice of pineapple.

Chef Marc Vetri’s Amis in Philadelphia currently offers the Mandorla, made with Tito’s handmade vodka, Lazzaroni amaretto and pineapple.

“Mandorla means almond in Italian,” said Steve Wildly, beverage director at Amis. “We were looking to do something simple and with a slight ‘tiki’ feel to it with fresh juice; hence the use of tropical fruit and the addition of something a little nutty.”

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