It’s time for some hard truth here: today’s upscale restaurant menus all look the same. In fact, they’re usually written in French, which means that most of the menus in your restaurant class are advertising the exact same dishes. Is your restaurant falling into this trap? Are your customers as bored with your menu offerings as the people in the photo? Here are 3 much-needed updates that will make your restaurant menu stand on its own.
In 1970 Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking changed the culture of food as we knew it. At the time, America hung on every new French phrase, as Julia told them how to make Coq Au Vin, Steak Frites and even baguettes, but today’s chefs have expanded our palates so far past traditional French cuisine. Today’s global economy and increased travel have expanded our American food options significantly and everyone around is lining up to eat the next best thing. But a lot of restaurant menus haven’t caught up with the new and exciting food trends of today and are still selling the same old foods, and even worse, using the same language to sell them. Here are some totally new ideas that will make your menu shine.
Get rid of those French terms for your nouveau cuisine. If your customers care enough about food to know that petit pois are just peas, that cassoulet is just another word for casserole and that fromage is the fancy French word for cheese, they aren’t impressed by your use of the language on your menu, they’re bored. Instead of using the same terms that everyone else is putting on their menu, try switching up the food you serve. Instead of saying mirepoix, try calling it “savory base” and surprise potential customers.
Tone down your cooking language, too. Although many of your customers will know what poulet is, they probably won’t be able to name the difference between a compote and a chutney. Sadly, this probably describes your waitstaff as well, and unless you’re willing to quiz your waitstaff on the exact definitions of aioli and remoulade, your customers may feel adrift in the cooking terms you’re using. Embrace the information age, and be clear with your customers about how you’re cooking their food. They will thank you for your information and reward you by eating more.
Add pronunciation keys for really new foods. If you have an African restaurant, please add a pronunciation guide for Attiéké. Conversely, if you’re serving Armenian food, add a pronunciation key for Բորակի. Asian food restaurants started doing this many years ago to bring in more customers and get them ordering the more unique (and pricey) specials, so why shouldn’t your restaurant gain the same benefits?
With regular Food Network programming, your customers now want to know more than ever about the food they are eating. Make 2014 the year that you interest your customers in your actual food instead of trying to impress them with foreign words on your restaurant menu, or scaring them off by using unfamiliar languages on your menu (French and Spanish are not unfamiliar, by the way).
Have we still not convinced you? Here’s a great idea to keep the language of your menu and still educate your customers: use a digital menu such as Uncorkd to get your customers interacting with your menu items so that they feel confident ordering and understand how your food is prepared. Regularly updated graphics and information on your digital menus will be easy to maintain and will bring curious foodies to your tables to learn more.
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