As the foodie revolution continues apace, it seems more consumers than ever are looking for new and innovative food experiences – and brands that can provide them. Highlighting this consumer demand, over a quarter of UK diners say they’re likely to order and pay more for dishes that are not widely available. Furthermore, one in five of UK pub or bar users say that serving food in unusual ways makes pub or bar meals feel more special.

Foodservice operators can tap into consumer demand for time out and leisure by injecting more fun and play into their menus. Using innovative tableware (such as wooden boards, mini fries and slate plates) to boost the perception of added value of dishes is nothing new in the market. However, recently there have been examples of even more standout food presentation approaches coming to the fore.

For example, YO!Sushi launched a new ‘Japple Pie Dessert’ as part of its limited edition mash-up series for summer 2015. The dish consists of a waffle cone, black sesame ice cream, raspberry crumble, chocolate Pocky stick, hot apple and vanilla gyoza dumplings served with a salted miso caramel sauce syringe. Meanwhile, Ben’s Canteen, a neighbourhood restaurant in South London, recently launched an interactive dish onto its dessert menu. Customers are invited to inject their own jam, chocolate or custard fillings into the ‘Doctor’s DIY Doughnuts’.

Such concepts tap into the Mintel Consumer Trend Play Ethic, which explores the idea that consumers’ continually hectic lifestyles mean that they’re looking to “play like a kid” to relax. This suggests that operators can look to tap into consumer demand for time out by injecting more fun into their menus. Both YO!Sushi and Ben’s Canteen also feature these standout dishes prominently on their social media feeds to drive buzz around the venues; a factor which is important given that 11% of diners say that they’d be likely to order and willing to pay more for dishes they’re read/heard about.

Helena Childe, Senior Foodservice Analyst at Mintel, is responsible for the UK Foodservice journal at Mintel, providing robust market coverage, in depth consumer research, analysis and strategic recommendations for the restaurant, pub and bar market. Helena regularly presents to clients as well as at industry and press events and frequently contributes towards articles published in the trade press, covering a wide number of foodservice topics.