By Simon Stenning, executive director, MCA. Eating and Drinking Out Market Insight 

From the Menu Tracker we can see that BBQ is the most popular flavour on pub and restaurant menus. BBQ pulled pork has also been a dish on a significant number of menus, although we think that this might be waning. 

Within our Menu & Food Trends Report which was launched recently, we have identified BBQ as a significant growth cuisine, falling into the ‘Hot’ trend category. 

But we are also seeing BBQ being used as a flavour or preparation style, right across the industry, with Italian and Spanish brands offering it on their menus; these have included Barbacoa Romano Pizza at PizzaExpress and Beef Brisket Bolognese at ASK Italian, taking a BBQ staple and mixing it with an Italian classic. 

Korean BBQ is also a prominent and growing international version, but there are many international versions cropping up, including those from Turkey, Greece, or Middle Eastern cuisines. Examples include Olle, a Korean BBQ restaurant where you grill your own meats; Black Axe Mangal, a Turkish grill/kebab restaurant; Suvlaki, a Greek restaurant cooking on a robata-style grill over charcoal. 

These might not be considered traditional BBQ restaurants, but they are providing consumers with the authentic grilled meat flavour, but possibly appealing to slightly healthier and more interesting consumer demands. 

The traditional American BBQ restaurants such as Bodeans, Big Easy, MeatLiquor, and Red’s True BBQ are all doing well, providing a real experience through cooking and serving authentic foods. Indeed Red’s True BBQ team recently finished 4th in the World’s Championship Bar-B-Que in Houston, Texas! 

So, there are many different versions of BBQ, but all have appeal with consumers, so make sure you have a mix of menu ideas, and tempt your guests with the fantastic quality of grilled/charred meats – and vegetables!