by Holly Rogers

3 ways to add a retro touch to your menu

3 ways to add a retro touch to your menu
As you know, we’re constantly looking at the latest food and drink trends and doing extensive research to ensure we’re ahead of the curve when it comes to consumers’ choices. But, this year, it it’s not JUST about what’s brand new and fresh on the foodie scene. Operators are throwing it back with their menus and nostalgia is booming in the out of home market and culinary world. Retailers have also reported increased consumer demand for retro food and desserts.

So, our Trend “Retro Love” is definitely one to keep an eye on! And we can totally understand why.

Comfort: Nostalgic food and drink can help operators connect with consumers by tapping into universal feelings like comfort and safety. And in today’s world, given the unpredictable economic and political climate we face, it makes sense that consumers are drawn to comforting food and drink that evokes happy memories and joyful moments.

Enjoyment: Retro food and drink provides a sense of enjoyment and novelty as well. Spying your childhood favourite confectionary as a cocktail ingredient, or the biscuits you’d find at your Grandma’s house as a dessert topping is not only novel and fun; but it also sparks conversations between consumers and can create special moments.

And let’s be honest… whatever the reasons are, there are certain dishes and drinks that simply deserve a whopping comeback.

Irn Bru cocktails? Banana split ice cream sundae? A Toad in the Hole weeknight dinner? We’re here for it!


The really exciting thing about the Retro Love trend is that it offers foodservice operators so much scope for creativity and fun.

Plus… throwing it back in time with your menu doesn’t have to require intensive labour and high-cost dishes. Relatively simple concepts can easily be elevated and executed really well. We’ve seen bakeries selling classic loaf cakes but elevating them with childhood favourite confectionary, for example, and absolutely taking the market by storm.

Here are three different approaches you could take to throw it back with your menu and apply this trend…


1.  Classic comfort foods

I mean, really… who doesn’t love a mac and cheese or a good old crumble and custard?! We’re seeing more of these comforting childhood favourites on menus in various sectors.

With the British cuisine remaining a favourite amongst UK consumers, traditional pub-style classics that remind consumers of their school days or their parents’ weeknight cooking are likely to have wide appeal.


2. Nostalgic dishes with a modern twist

Many operators are elevating them or putting their own twists on them in some way. For example, we recently went to Glasgow to explore their food scene and see how our 2023 Trends are manifesting on menus. One of our favourite dishes of the day was a ridiculously tasty vegan mac and cheese topped with haggis!

Putting modern twists like this on nostalgic dishes can offer consumers the best of both worlds. And it’s a great way to maintain appeal amongst younger consumers as well.


3. Retro drinks and desserts

These are really going down a treat with consumers in 2023. Vintage shakes, cola floats, old-school cocktails, confectionary-inspired desserts… the list is endless! Again, this doesn’t require a full menu change-up. Well-loved menu staples can be elevated with toppings, flavours, confectionary, retro packaging, or even fun menu names that feel like a real blast from the past.

And the more novel and “instagrammable” your menu items are, the more consumers are likely to post them, share them, and promote your venue’s offering.

Why not try Chef Martin’s Pimms trifle cheesecake?



As well as adding a retro touch to your main menu, why not tap into the experiential dining trend we’ve seen grow since the pandemic, could you consider introducing some themed days or evenings in your venue? Whether you focus on throwing it back to the 90s (a hit with Millennials for sure!), the swinging 60s or even a nostalgic movie or event… developing a menu around this could not only create excitement and novelty, but also give your customers something completely different.


This is just one of our 6 key Food and Drink Trends – all of which are shaping the eating out market this year and beyond. You can explore these trends in more depth and find recipe inspiration to help apply the trends in our interactive Trends Guide or our web pages.



Back to Top