This post is part of a series to help you build a winning menu that will engage with your customers, assist your team and most importantly, drive your bottom line.
In a previous post, I talked about the importance of having a great introduction on your menu. Suddenly, this gives the feeling of having a conversation with the owner. Now, you ask, which dishes should I try to further the experience.
|A great example of Recommendations influencing choice.|
Here are the key questions that you need to ask in deciding a recommended dish:
A bit obvious, but surprisingly it’s not necessarily the dish the Chef thinks it is. He might think it’s his fantastic Duck a la whatever-he-calls-it, when in fact it’s the lemon tart served after he’s gone home. That’s why patissier’s rule!Which dishes are really straightforward to prepare in terms of mise-en-place?
The dish looks good in terms of food cost, but it might be killing your labour budget. At St Cross College, our chef loves to serve soup for big functions. Makes sense… doesn’t it? The problem is a waiter can only carry two bowls to a table, so I need more staff. By encouraging the chef to change to a risotto for example, the waiter can carry 3 bowls. Now we can serve 120 guests with fewer staff.Which dishes are easiest to dress on or have plated during service?
Prepare for success by making sure you don’t get a traffic jam at the stove. It may be popular with the guests, but not if they have to wait for an hour for it to be served.Which dishes use the least expensive ingredients?
Sometimes a dish can be just that simple; cheap and easy to prepare. Nursery dishes and homely classics will never go out of fashion it seems. So don’t overlook them in favour of celebrity ingredients.In terms of dietary requirements, which dishes appeal to the widest audience?
This is especially true in banqueting or for weddings where pork, shellfish, beef, horse (couldn’t resist) or fois gras are best avoided, unless of course you know your audience really well.Which dishes are priced the most expensive on the menu?
One lesson I learned in my restaurants in Kathmandu is that people love to show off. To flaunt their wealth. So let them. Sometimes it does make sense to recommend the most expensive dish.Here’s a sneaky one: which dish requires one or two sides to make it complete?
The dish itself might seem reasonably priced, but throw in a couple of sides and your bottom line is looking good. Sound familiar?Another bonus one: Which dishes offer supplementary upgrades? e.g. Prawn vs Lobster Surf n’ Turf?
So you recommend the basic version and allow guests to ‘upgrade’ if they wish. What’s wrong with that?And would the Chef know which dishes promote the sale of some great wines?
This is where good restaurants become great. Involving the sommelier, the maitre d’ and the chef in the conversation will really drive sales. A very delicate terrine, will encourage the sale of a Premier Cru in the hands of the right Sommelier. But if you allow the Chef to recommend his homely soup, which probably is great and ticks lots of boxes, you do lose the opportunity to upsell on your wine.