Because an original and enticing menu is your venue’s best attribute.
Imagine this – you’re walking along a strip of restaurants trying to decide what to eat for dinner. You’ve narrowed it down to two venues: both bustling with a great crowd, fun atmosphere, and great location. But who has the better food? A quick glance at the menu, and your mind is made up.
It’s this 30 second perusal of a menu that is your make or break as a venue. Your food might be equally as good – or better – than your competition, but if your menu doesn’t work to catch the readers attention (and rumbling stomach!) immediately, then you will be overlooked.
This can come down to everything from presentation, to length, and even the tone of voice it’s written in. You might think all menus are just a list of what you’re serving – but there is much, much more to it.
We’ve compiled some of the biggest local and international menu trends that we’ll be updating regularly to help you nail your menu, every time.
No individual menu
A trend appropriated from the sidewalk cafes and restaurants of Europe, one large, communal menu board is a great way to entice prospective customers into your venue. Have it right near the entrance, so when they ask to see a menu you can point them in the right direction quickly and easily. But, by having it a small way into your venue, they are encouraged to step inside and witness the aromas and atmosphere whilst they peruse the board. Given that both of those things are good, they’ll have a hard time leaving…
Words that speak to your stomach
Especially if you work in a popular cuisine such as ‘modern Australian’, some menu items are going to feel fatigued. Items such as Nicoise Salad or Eggs Benedict might be your speciality – but to others, it’s just another version of something they already know. Make sure you use enticing and exciting wording to get their mouths drooling, and their minds intrigued. Buzzwords like crispy, sticky or crunchy are attention grabbing, whilst you can always find new ways to describe old dishes.
Don’t tie yourself down to long-running menu options. Print out your menu daily so you can look to include new dishes that depend on seasonal produce or even local weather patterns. Placing a feature dish as the ‘fresh daily’ option is like giving yourself a customised draw card every single day; whilst also proving to your customers that your kitchen is fresh, quick, and constantly trying new things.
Have a sense of humour
Do you know what’s attractive when reading a menu? Being entertained. Rather than naming your dishes and categories by the standard titles such as ‘Entrees’ or ‘Mains’, why not opt for something original? Good Food online gives the following examples:
tiny stuff you’re supposed to share, $9
eight olives in a ramekin, $9
burger that’s crazier than it needs to be, $19
token vegetarian dish – probably a pasta, $21
pork chop from a wise, soulful farmer, $31
tarted-up pork belly, $16
And don’t forget – the best favour you can do your menu is ensuring that you have wait staff who know it like the back of their hand. Often it is their few words of recommendation or encouragement that will be the difference between a potential customer walking by, or coming in.
These are just a few tips you need to know when preparing your menu. Read our member-only article ‘The power of words – Top 10 tips to writing a menu’ to learn more. View our subscription options today.