I graduated from Penn State with a Bachelor’s Degree in English, so I’ve developed into a word-nerd of sorts. I also love to eat. So, when I go to a restaurant for the first time, it’s always fun scanning the selection of food and catching some common (and not-so-common) errors, clichés, and painstaking statements of the obvious. Some of these things might be nitpicky, but hey; if a restaurant’s service were faster, there would be no worries about people like me taking a critical eye to the establishment’s menu.
10. Messing With A Classic
Many high-end restaurants will take a classic recipe and add their own subtle (but significantly delectable) twist to it, thus making it their own. That’s great! Ingenuity is one of the reasons you pay what you do for fine dining. That being said, is it necessary for a menu to point out that your Caesar salad would include Caesar dressing? As if you were expecting blue cheese.
9. Pouvez-Vous Lire Le Français?
Translation: Can you read French? I’m sure you’ve all enjoyed au jus served alongside a slice of beef, but if you are bilingual you probably chuckle when you read of an entree served “with au jus.” To everyone else, redundancy be darned. The literal French translation suggests that you’ve just ordered “beef with with juice.”
8. Come Circa Italiano?
Translation: How about Italian? The derivation of the word “scampi” is somewhat unclear, but it is generally thought to be an Italian-American word for shrimp that, according to dictionary.com, now means “a large shrimp or prawn.” So, are you ordering “shrimp shrimp” when you place an order for shrimp scampi? Maybe, but at least it’s not blatantly contradictory like “jumbo shrimp.” Don’t get me started.
7. That’s Some High-Quality H20
Unless I’m in the mood for a nice brew, specialty house wine, or some type of freshly squeezed beverage, I’m not paying for a drink when I go out to eat. Call me a miser if you will, sir or madam, but it is a rare occasion that a thirst-quencher warrants what the menu says it’s worth. Just give me a nice cold glass of ice water, and I’m good to go–unless that water costs me $2.50. Are you kidding me? There’s no salvation for a penny-pincher.
6. Perfection? But Adequacy Is So Much Easier To Achieve!
I have a strong distaste for any menu option that gives a qualitative description. Your menu doesn’t decide whether your chalupa is delicious–I do. And why are you telling me that my steak will be “grilled to perfection”? Pushing past the fact that we’re dealing with a totally subjective claim here, why would a customer pay for adequate grilling?
5. Pics Or It Didn’t Happen
Do you ever get the feeling that the restaurant you recently dined at was not really world famous like it claimed to be? If a menu promoted the restaurant as being “surrounding-county famous,” I would question the owner’s ambition, but not the legitimacy of the claim. “World Famous,” on the other hand, requires proof to hold any kind of weight. Show me a picture of a group of people sporting novelty t-shirts from your restaurant who are standing in front of the Parthenon, and then we’ll talk.
4. I Believe In Sushi Bars
We would like to believe that everything we’re served at a restaurant was made just for us upon our arrival, but our subconscious is well aware that what we eat today may have been prepared yesterday or days prior. Claiming that anything is “made fresh daily” doesn’t offer any assurance, but instead pushes inhibited concerns to the forefront of our thoughts. The bottom line? Unless it is prepared directly in front of me, when food is made isn’t something that typically crosses my mind, and maybe that’s how it should be.
3. Tayk Sum Tym
This isn’t a quirk that is limited just to restaurant menus, but any professional establishment. Having blatant spelling errors in something that you’re issuing to the public is a significant concern. If there are such oversights in what your consumers are seeing, how much is being overlooked behind the scenes? In my experience, menu spelling errors are most prevalent around the cakes, pies and other after-dinner treats that are referred to by some as a “desert.” Suddenly that $2.50 glass of water sounds more appetizing.
2. Home Cookin’
Anything listed in a menu as being “homemade” should pique the interest of even the most apathetic observer. What does “homemade meatloaf” even mean when ordering it from a restaurant? If it is made in someone’s home, that opens up a whole new world of concerns. If it isn’t, then it’s made under the same circumstances as all of the other menu items that, apparently, aren’t homemade. Curious, indeed.
1. A Heart Attack Waiting To Happen
Allow me to introduce you to a travesty of an omission from menus across the world: The Krispy Kreme Cheeseburger. This magnificent creation was originally concocted by the St. Louis Gateway Grizzlies and features a burger with cheese and bacon sandwiched between a Krispy Kreme donut. Admit it, you want one now. Why aren’t they more widely available? Sure it might kill you, but what a way to go.
Ethan Gibble is a content specialist and blogger for WEBstaurant Restaurant Supply. He researches and writes about issues facing the restaurant industry on a local, national, and global scale.