How to write your menu
The Art of Menu Writing – the Secret to the Overall Success of any Restaurant
Among the most consistent fixtures in any decent restaurant are the menus. They are one of the first things that greet you when you enter your favorite eating place as they are usually posted at the entrance or immediately handed to you once you are seated. You read them, use them, and then totally forget about them once the waiter has taken your order.
But menus do more than just list what a restaurant can offer. The menu is important to the overall success of the restaurant. Everything in a restaurant’s operation is linked to the menu and is why it is a very important matter to work on when running a restaurant. No matter how mundane menus may seem to the layman, writing them properly takes effort.
The writing of the menu doesn’t begin with the actual writing of what the restaurant can serve, but starts way before that. The art of menu writing begins with the conception of the restaurant. At the restaurant’s inception, a theme should be set and this theme should emanate through all the elements of the eating place. Hodgepodge doesn’t really work, while fusion may.
Whether it is Italian, Japanese, Chinese, modern or homey, there should be a theme that will stand for the identity of the restaurant. This theme will govern what is inside the menu, from its first print throughout all updates in the future. Having the theme helps narrow down the menu, keeping it simple not only for the customer’s eyes but also for the restaurant’s inventory. The theme will tell the owner or the chef what not to write in the menu and at the same time it will give the chef an idea of what to include.
After establishing the restaurant’s theme and listing the possible items to include in the menu, the next step is for the chef to write down the recipes of the “candidate” items. While the recipes seem not to concern the menu, it is very much connected as the operations in the kitchen are triggered by the customer’s orders, which are based on the menu. The recipes will serve as important definitions of what is written on the menu. The recipes are crucial to deliver the items in the menu as consistently as possible. If the chef can’t translate the recipe of a particular item simply enough for the cooks to replicate, then it is best to discard the item from the menu no matter how good it may be. Only after the recipes have been written down can the menu be drafted.
After writing the recipe and making the menu draft, the next step is to contact suppliers that provide the ingredients. The chef may be able to produce recipes and a menu of delectable pieces, but they can’t be made and served if there are no ingredients. The chef and the owner should be able to source out the items carefully and thoroughly. It is best to contact several suppliers to find one that can give the best quality, most consistent quantity, and most reasonable prices.
This stage in menu writing also determines the prices of the food to be served. The costs of ingredients directly affect the price of the finished dishes. At this point it may be necessary for the chef to substitute certain ingredients that might be too expensive to sell at a reasonable price, or in worse cases, discard a dish totally because the cost might make it impossible to be served.
When a good deal with suppliers has been made, the next crucial step is to test the menu. The chef has to assemble the menu, and then present it to the whole restaurant – the busboys, the waiters, the maitre d’, the managers, the owners, and everybody else involved in the service. This will acquaint the whole restaurant to the food and at the same time will help evaluate if the food will be good to serve. At this point it is wise to take pictures of the dishes to serve as a guide for the staff so that they will know how the finished dishes should appear. At the end of the tasting the chef will know if there are necessary changes to be made in the menu. After which, the menu can be finalized.
The last step will be the actual printing of the menus. There are several menu suppliers that will be able to present several types of menus and materials for the restaurant managers to choose from. You may choose a booklet type of menu, or a single paged one. The options are endless. Restaurateurs may choose to outsource the printing of menus or they may opt to invest in a menu printer themselves should they deem it necessary to change the menu more often the usual.
The menu may be just a sheet or some sheets of paper; however it is a very important backbone of a successful restaurant. The steps to write a menu may be tedious, but the efforts to make one are definitely worth it.