But autumn is also a special time for devourers of food because chefs across the metro release new menus full of seasonally appropriate dishes meant to delight taste buds and warm bellies.
At The Metro Wine Bar & Bistro, 6418 N. Western Ave., executive chef Jonas Favela is excited about his slate.
“It’s a year-round job, planning new, seasonal menus,” he said. “I’ve been working to source the best seasonal items I can get.”
One of his proudest creations is a maple-roasted fall vegetable medley mixing butternut squash, parsnips, carrots, golden beets and a maple vinaigrette, all served over a warm bed of creamy polenta and topped with a white soy butter.
“I think a perfect protein for this time of year is duck breast, but I wanted to showcase it without having to put on a bunch of crazy seasonings,” he said. “So it’s a simple crispy duck breast over a cauliflower puree, topped off with a balsamic chutney with andouille sausage and figs. On the side are broccolini with oil and salt and pepper and chili flakes and some duckfat, double-blanched french fries.” Cooked medium-rare, the duck is a treat — strong, but not gamey — and the pureed cauliflower will be missed when it leaves the menu.
Favela said the season inspires him to create specials that take the weather of the day into account.
Turning leaves Leaf + Bean barista, baker and product developer Bonnie De Lany said weather plays a huge part in its business, as well. The walk-up coffee, tea and pastry stand at 2901 NW 36th St. has seen a big boost as temperatures dip, and it has De Lany back in the kitchen, working up new delicacies.
“I wanted to do something for fall, but it’s also just a relief for me,” she said. “Baking the same things over and over again can get boring.”
That’s why her summer banana bread with lime zest and coconut has been replaced with a version sporting cinnamon and maple. She has added an iced pumpkin scone (everybody is crazy about pumpkin right now) and a cranberry-pecan coffee cake.
De Lany uses weekend time to test new items and get out of her baking rut. One thing that won’t be going anywhere, she said, is the baconcheddar scone. It’s too well-loved to take a break.
“There are people who don’t even get a drink. They just want a pastry. Or they’ll get a drink and two slices of coffee cake,” she said.
In the Red
Those healthy appetites are part of why Red Cup co-owner and kitchen manager Patrick Clark II is revamping his menu.
“Right now, we’re vegetarian comfort food, which is fine,” he said, “but I want to expand our menu to have more vegetarian health food.”
One move he has made is to bring in more vegan dishes (those with no meat or animal byproducts, like eggs or cheese). Thursday and Friday nights are vegan nights at The Red Cup, 3122 N. Classen Blvd., which Clark said have grown quite popular. They also allow him to test out ideas that might become menu staples.
While its veggie burger likely will stay, Clark has created a vegan black bean burger he thinks is tops.
“Some items, like the Sloppy Jane and the stir-fry, will probably be going away and just coming back as occasional specials,” he said. “That’ll make room for seasonal salads, like the roasted red beet carpaccio and a vegan chicken-fried steak.”
That said, fall is still a great time for the vegetarian Frito chili pie, which probably will stay forever.
“We tried taking it off the menu once,” Clark said, “and we about had a riot.”