Hard Rock International rolled out a refreshed menu last week, emphasizing the restaurant’s made-from-scratch attitude and introducing a handful of dishes built around guests’ needs.
The facelift was necessary, says executive chef Jason Gronlund, who says the menu had previously been too reflective of the restaurant.
“Obviously, when you walk in the door, you know we’re about rock ‘n’ roll,” Gronlund says. “Our menu has been about food, but it’s also got memorabilia and some of the other historical stuff on there. It never really went into detail about what went on in the back of the house every day.”
So when Gronlund sat down to review the menu this year, as Hard Rock chefs do every year, he decided to use it as an avenue to tell the kitchen’s story rather than reiterate the rock ‘n’ roll theme.
“We needed a platform to talk about what it was we do in our kitchen every day,” he says.
To that effect, the menu now details how everything at Hard Rock, from the Hass avocados in guacamole to the poached pears in the salads, is brought in fresh daily. Any dish left over at the end of the day is thrown out, Gronlund says.
“I think a lot of our guests don’t realize that everything we do at Hard Rock is 100 percent from scratch,” he says. “The first big menu change this year was to tell that story.”
The other enhancement was to add three flavor concepts: fresh, legendary, and smokehouse. These reflect the guests’ desire for healthier fare, Gronlund says, and also diversify the menu so it has appeal outside of the U.S. as well.
The Shang Hi Smokehouse Sandwich, for example, is flavored like a Vietnamese banh mi sandwich with cucumber salad, cilantro, and basil.
“We always try to answer the call of, what are the customers looking for?” Gronlund explains. “So when we look at the menu each year, we try to look at what is not selling and what we need to freshen up.”
This year, Hard Rock freshened its salad category by adding the Smokehouse Chop Salad.
“Customers are widely accepting of chopped salads,” Gronlund says. “We were able to take our expertise in smoking and take it into a healthier platform.”
By Sonya Chudgar