As food becomes more important, more pubs and bars are discovering the appeal of European-style snack and sharing dishes such as antipasti and tapas.
As well as helping to create a laid-back atmosphere in which customers can enjoy food and drink, such dishes are relatively simple to produce, reducing overheads.
The Barceloneta tapas bar and restaurant in Leicester serves food to up to 450 customers a week. Popular dishes are chicken and chorizo kebabs, fish and bravas potatoes, with each customer eating around three dishes - all made with fresh produce prepped throughout the day.
The credit crunch has prompted the bar to look again at its overheads. Preferring to save on kitchen running rather than cut the quality of ingredients, owner Jhan Husain has invested in a Quick-Therm Salamander from Hatco, at the suggestion of head chef Shayne Harris.
"We used to have a gas salamander to grill and gratin dishes and toast bagels, but with fuel prices going up, we realised we were wasting gas as heat was firing out into the kitchen throughout the day," says Harris.
"This was also not very green. Ideally, we needed something to come on and off as required that would give us the perfect finish we required.
"I was looking for a salamander grill with energy-saving properties that was reliable and easy to clean, but we have actually invested in something that does much more than this, improving results on top of cutting costs."
The Quick-Therm Rise and Fall Salamander reduces food preparation time by reaching the desired temperature in just eight seconds. Finishing products and producing an au gratin effect, it is ideal for a variety of meal options, including hotpots, pies, pastries and toasted sandwiches.
Prepared dishes can also be held, while a plate detection switch automatically activates the heating elements once a plate comes into contact with the grilling plate bar, turning itself off when the plate is removed. The heating elements can also be operated independently.
"It's a brilliant bit of kit," says Harris. "I was dubious at first as I was not convinced it could really start up in eight seconds. I was, however, mistaken and have to say it is unbelievably effective. It is also versatile, allowing us to change the height to control the cooking process as required and achieve perfect results."
For more information on Hatco's range of products call 01509 260140 or visit www.hatcocorp.com