Bring on the Options: New Menu “On Trend” at Bistro AIX | Restaurants

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Bring on the Options: New Menu “On Trend” at Bistro AIX
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Bring on the Options: New Menu “On Trend” at Bistro AIX

 

In its most recent seasonal menu unveiling, Bistro AIX introduced tiered entrée menu pricing to allow guests to “match their appetite to their entrée size” and enjoy tasting more items from various categories around the menu.  Boasting a new, eye-catching two-column format and a dozen new seasonal dishes, the menu is filled with exciting changes throughout.

“Since opening in 1999, we have always offered multiple portion sizes on items like our salads, soups, and pastas.  Using the popularity of these options as an indicator, I went to work to create two sizes of the entrées as well.” stated Chef Tom Gray, Executive Chef and Operating Partner of Bistro AIX.  

The smaller entrée portion, called “Light Appetite”, reflects a scaled down portion and price point, but with all of the components of the regular full-sized entrée.  Portion-conscious guests appreciate the changes.  “The feedback in the few days since we rolled out the new menu are very positive,” added Gray.  

Running the gamut from Strauss Family Farm Lamb Short Ribs on preserved lemon-herb cous cous, shaved carrots & scallions on creamy yogurt ($17 / $24), Ashley Farms Roasted Chicken with local root vegetables, Brussels sprouts, huckleberries & sweet onion purée ($16 / $23) and House-made “Spaghetti” & Meatballs with finely-grated Grana cheese ($15 / $22), the variety of dishes, coupled with the choice of portions, provide a welcome chance to “surf the menu” to either indulge culinary curiosities, avoid too-large-to-enjoy portions, or both.

With a keen eye to seasonality in addition to local and responsible sourcing, Bistro AIX’s other new items include Organic Beets on red, black & green lentils in truffle vinaigrette with torn herb salad ($10), House-made Bacon & Brie wood-fired pizza with shaved apple & local arugula tossed in mustard vinaigrette ($15), Niman Ranch Berkshire Pork Loin on white bean purée & spicy tomato-bacon fondue with green beans ($18 / $25), and Risotto with Shrimp with maitake mushrooms, leeks, mushroom cream & pea tendrils in black truffle vinaigrette ($17 / $24), to name a few. 

While some restaurants stake their reputations on larger-than-life portioning, half-portions and smaller entrée portion sizes are growing trends among restaurants.  In a recent NPD Group study, 43% of over 5,000 adults surveyed indicated that they ate smaller portions always or most of the time in the past year. [1]  And in the 2011 National Restaurant Association’s (NRA) Chef Survey, “Half-portions/smaller portions for a smaller price” ranked 13th on the list’s Top 20 Trends from among 1,500 professional chefs.

Regardless of the trends, Gray’s motivations are founded in his observations of how many guests choose to share entrées and listening to the feedback they have offered over the years.

“For me, it’s about allowing our guests the options they seek.  I hope that guests will feel more free to experiment tasting an item from our By the Each section, a half-salad, half-soup, or share an appetizer and then enjoy a "Light Appetite" entrée, and maybe even a dessert at the end of the meal.  It’s a great way to control what you eat and still have the excitement of trying new flavors when dining out,” added Gray.

A notation at the bottom of the newly-formatted menu draws attention to another growing trend being addressed at Bistro AIX.  For several months, a comprehensive program has been in place to accommodate guests with allergy or dietary restrictions, including no-gluten added menu modifications, a phenomenon that Gray has seen grow in recent years. 

“Gluten-free/food allergy conscious” menus ranked eighth on the 2011 NRA’s Chef Survey.

“When we opened, we had requests for special menus only occasionally.  Now, it is almost on a daily basis.  Guest come to us because they know they can trust us to prepare creative, healthful and delicious dishes and also meet the exacting specifications of their particular dietary needs, whether it be gluten-free, other allergies or vegan/vegetarian preferences.”

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