Cutback Cuisine: Restaurants Are Substituting Cheaper Ingredients As Costs Rise

As the cost of raw materials rises, its not just the food at the grocery store that’s getting smaller and more expensive—restaurants of all kinds are having to do more with less.

Meat scraps that used to be ground into hamburger are now used in pricey appetizers, says the Wall Street Journal. We hope you like pasta and stir fry because these dishes are cheaper for restaurants to prepare…

Meat scraps that used to get ground into hamburger are now listed as a $12.95 steak tartare at Murray’s steakhouse in Minneapolis. At Gramercy Tavern in New York, the caviar-topped hamachi appetizer has been replaced with a tuna-and-beet tartare topped with sliced radishes. Uptown at Isabella’s, a pasta dish is squeezing out a sirloin.

Restaurateurs plain and fancy are counting on dishes with bigger profit margins to stay afloat. Pink’s hot dog stand in Hollywood introduced a $6.75 dog that’s more topping than wiener. Others are shrinking portions or increasing prices. The Dollar Menu at some McDonald’s restaurants is now the “Dollar Menu & More.”

Pampered diners at New York’s Blue Water Grill sit in plush fabric seats, surrounded by yards of pressed white tablecloths. But in the cramped stainless-steel kitchen, a sous chef engages in some culinary penny-pinching, cleaning up a piece of beef he has just cut from a slab of tenderloin. The trimmings, left after slicing the tenderloin into center-cut filet mignon steaks, used to be eaten by the staff. Now they go to a sushi chef for the $12 chipotle-marinated beef roll.

Another tactic: Some restaurants are pulling the expensive dishes off the menu and offer them as specials. This helps the item sell better and reduces leftovers.

Cutback Cuisine [Wall Street Journal via BuzzFeed]
(Photo:Wall Street Journal)