More Surf, Less Turf

March 11, 2013
4 min read

In naming “Where’s the Beef” as a 2013 foodservice trend, Mintel Menu Insights noted that rising beef prices will prompt operators to continue innovating around the center of the plate. One early iteration of this is the way “Surf & Turf” ideas are being updated to bring new interest to mixed proteins on the plate. Menuing fish with beef is a clever way to mask a decrease steak portion sizes and to match or complement steak and seafood flavors.

Some operators stick to classic steak and shrimp combinations, with increasingly smaller pieces of steak. Other versions of shrimp and steak show new flavor injections, with Latin inspiration such as chipotle and churrasco sauces leading the way.

  • LongHorn Steakhouse – Shrimp Scampi Sirloin LTO: A juicy 8-oz. sirloin topped with grilled shrimp and creamy garlic scampi sauce.
  • Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery – Top Sirloin & Shrimp an 8-oz. or 11-oz. top sirloin seasoned with our RB classic seasoning and paired with tequila-lime marinated, grilled shrimp; served with French fries and apple coleslaw
  • Applebee’s – Chipotle Cream 4-oz. Steak & Shrimp: Our 4-oz. sirloin and chipotle lime shrimp with fried red potatoes, black bean corn salsa, mushrooms, red peppers, red onions and zesty chipotle cream sauce.
  • Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant – Churrasco Steak & Coconut Shrimp Combo: Grilled seasoned skirt steak and coconut shrimp served with fresh tropical fruit salsa and honey mustard sauce. Accompanied by jasmine rice and black beans.


Other recent limited time offers featured lobster or crab, used both in traditional and in inventive ways. Lobster rolls, an on-trend menu item all summer, took the classic New England form and showed up in Japanese-style rolls, as well

  • LongHorn Steakhouse – Lobster Stuffed Filet: Taking Surf & Turf to the next level; our juicy, tender filet stuffed with premium lobster meat and topped with a garlic-herb crusted half lobster tail served with fresh salad and your favorite side.
  • Bonefish Grill Casual Dining Entree Wood-Grilled Lobster Tail & Steak Duet: Comes with a salad, seasonal veggies and your choice of fresh side.
  • Bonefish Grill – Surf & Turf Roll: Tempura-style with Pan Asian beef, crab and asparagus.
  • Kona Grill – Steak + Lobster Roll: Lobster, garlic aioli, horseradish cream cheese, cucumber, topped with thin sliced beef and shiitake mushrooms.


Still other menu items mixed fish and other proteins even more, with chicken, pork, sausage and forms of starches bringing plate coverage and new flavor combinations.

  • Bonefish Grill -Shrimp & Chicken Pad Thai LTO: Asian rice noodles, scallions, sprouts, peanuts, egg and a traditional Pad Thai sauce; this bowl is overflowing with happiness.
  • Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant ­- Caribbean Combo Coconut Shrimp, Shrimp & Lobster Spring Rolls and Jerk Chicken Sliders.
  • Kona Grill – Jambalaya LTO: Shrimp, chicken, mussels, jambalaya sauce, white rice and scallions.
  • Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen – Crispy Lobster, Shrimp & Pork Spring Rolls: With a sesame orange dipping sauce.

Mintel Insights:

Whether or not these menu items were designed with better value in mind, they do provide ideas for mixing protein in flavorful ways that can use less protein.

Try regional specialties: Traditional American stews, chowders and one-pot meals combine seafood, sausage and other ingredients in flavorful ways.

Search the globe: Latin, Asian and Mediterranean often feature less meat and more greens, vegetables and starch for a full plate and well-rounded meal.

Emphasize sides: Adding more side dishes and letting customers choose 2 or 3 is another way to shift the focus away from big pieces of protein.

Dress it down: Offering two or more versions of sandwiches, sliders and spring rolls is a new idea for a casual meal.

Kathy Hayden
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