Patrons of restaurants, bars and taverns are starting to find that bar snacks have moved beyond the usual bowls of beer nuts and stale pretzels. There seems to be trend toward offering a higher grade of snacks in a growing number of U.S. establishments.
The movement was recently featured in a story by Robin Lawless in the trade publication Restaurant Management.
One of the restaurants moving in this direction is Centro Vinoteca, a high-end Italian restaurant in New York City. Patrons there can graze on free snacks like white truffled deviled eggs, bacon-wrapped dates, and Parmesan fritters during the weekday aperitivo hour from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Owner Enver Boljevic says this promo period gives the restaurant an opportunity to showcase its extensive all-Italian wine list and cocktail menu. “The snack comes for free, the cost of alcohol covers itself,” Boljevic said.
At Empire State South in Atlanta, Chef Hugh Acheson has created a sort of “Southern style antipasti” on the snackies section of his menu, which are priced from $5 to $18. They can be ordered in the large bar area with a signature cocktail, or in the dining room. The dishes are an upgrade of Southern staples, Lawless writes, turning boiled peanuts into creamy hummus, and serving Pimento cheese and bacon marmalade with pork rillettes and pickles.
At McCrady’s Restaurant in Charleston, S.C., a range of bar snacks is offered nightly for customers to enjoy with one of the restauant’s Prohibition-era cocktails. Among the choices are crisp gouper fritters, Moroccan honey lamb ribs, crispy sweetbreads, and deviled eggs, which are priced under $10. General manager Kellie Holmes sees them as “a bite to get people interested in having more.”
Serving fancier snacks like these certainly involves more cost and effort, but the restaurateurs hope it will add to the overall experience—as well as to the bottom line.
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