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Food and Beverages 30 Oct 2017

8 Hacks to a Perfect Menu

A key factor that helps a menu stand out from others is the consideration given to local cuisine and preferences.

By Chef Naveen Handa JW Marriott Chandigarh

An excellently prepared delicacy requires perfection in terms of adherence to the recipe and technique, with that dash of chef’s special ingredient to ensure exclusivity. Similarly, the secret to creating a perfect menu for a restaurant requires adherence to the certain parameters which ensure that the menu balances various aspects such as profitability, variety in cuisine, visual appeal, cost considerations perfectly. A key factor that helps a menu stand out from others is the consideration given to local cuisine and preferences. Introducing elements from local palate make it relatable for the people of that place while enhancing its appeal to those travelling from outside to that place. 

The parameters that need to be adhered to are:

Menu Matrix: It is very essential to create a menu basis a properly defined menu matrix. The matrix helps put a system to the whole process of menu creation, helping achieve a balance across various parameters listed below:

  • Balance of vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes
  • Balance of Ingredients
  • Balance of courses
  • Portion size
  • Colour combination
  • Accompaniment
  • Garnishes

Having a balance in the above factors helps a menu meet various preferences and parameters while remaining profitable.

Menu Engineering: Creating a menu is nothing short of engineering as it involves factoring in various permutations and combinations with the key ones being comparative study of high selling items v/s slow moving dishes and expensive v/s low price dishes.

However, good looking or enticing a menu of the restaurant may be, it is of no use if it is not profitable. While every restaurant wants to serve the best and be the most popular, it will not sustain if it is not profitable. Menu engineering plays an important role in this regard as it helps increase profitability per guest. As indicated above, menu engineering involves taking into account the profitability and popularity of menu items and how these two factors influence the placement of these items on a menu.

Menu Costing: A comparison of prices helps one in keeping a menu competitive, profitable and balanced Ingredient cost and Cost calculation per dish and per menu. Menu costing involves breaking down each and every menu item to its individual ingredients. This helps in determining exactly how much it costs to create each item. Menu costing goes a long way in determining the final shape of the menu as it helps put into perspective the popularity versus the profitability of every single dish and thus helps in arriving at a right mix of popular and profitable menu items.

Price Comparison:  A comparison of prices helps in keeping a menu competitive, profitable and balanced Price of the competition restaurant in the city and Price comparison of vegetarian and non-vegetarian items. It helps to have prices which are competitive with the competition. While a restaurant, confident of its superior quality of offerings, may charge a higher price, it is better not to be tee highly priced in comparison to the completion so that you end of losing out on price-conscious customers.

Seasonal Availability: Seasonal availability is a key factor in determining a menu for a restaurant. A menu’s chance of success is much higher if it the ingredients is Fresh, Healthy and Organic food. In today’s day and age, almost everyone wants a balance of health and taste in what they eat. Sourcing fresh, healthy and organic food goes a long way in meeting this preference.

Menu Specification : It helps if the menu shares specifics with regard to delicacies it has listed. These can pertain to Allergen, Spice level and Ingredients description. Listing these specifications helps ensure that a guest does not end up ordering something which does not suit him or her.

Menu Design: How a menu is designed goes a long way in determining the amount of interest it generates among the diners.  Elements which matter when designing a menu are: Selection of font type, Size, Colour of paper, Folder size and shape etc., Dimension should be perfect in all aspect and Presentation of the menu items. All of the above factors need to be in synergy with one another to come up with a pleasing menu. Also, all these must be decided depending upon the aesthetics and the mood of the restaurant. For instance, in a niche fine-dine you must not have a menu which resembles a pub or discotheque. Here, the menu should look and feel as refined and suave as the restaurant to which it belongs.

Local Cuisine Influence: Introducing elements of local cuisine in a menu gives it a stronger character. Not only does this make the menu relatable to the local populace but also helps attract attention of travellers who are interested in trying local cuisines intrinsic to that place. Apart from introducing local delicacies to the menu, a restaurant menu can look at fusion as an option to facilitate interesting delicacies which offer a mix of local and non-local cuisine. A menu should look to include Authentic and traditional food and also the Popular local dishes.

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