Top 10 Restaurant Menu Blunders

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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

caesar-salad

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?

au jus mix

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?

shrimp-scampi

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

water-drop

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!

grilled-to-perfection

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

world-famous-sign

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

donut-made-fresh-daily

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

menu-spelling-error

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’

homemade-meatloaf

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

krispy-kreme-burger

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.


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29 Comments

  1. I've never commented or been tempted to comment before but my god this is the most pretentious entry I've ever read on this blog- and that is definitely saying something given the tone adopted in most posts.

    • After reading that intro I knew that I’ll be wasting my time reading the list. I decided to scan the comments to see if it confirmed my thoughts. Well I have a few extra minutes to read something else.

  2. Hannah, are you saying most of the posts on this blog are pretentious (Attempting to impress by affecting greater importance, talent, culture, etc., than is actually possessed.)? If so, I think that is the nature of most top 10 lists that are quantifiable. And since many of these lists are subjective that is bound to happen from time to time. As always I invite our readers to write their own list for submission. You can make it as down to earth as you like. Thanks for reading and congratulations on your first comment. I hope there will be many more…although a bit more positive. 😉

    • Agreed. This writer fixates on too many mundanely boring details that hold zero significance; why does this warrant a top 10 count down? I didn’t experience any suspense while reading or catharsis upon reaching the conclusion. I love how someone who only has a bachelors degree automatically assumes they are the high authority on the language (maybe after you get a master’s degree ” then we’ll talk”). It’s generally a bad idea to introduce anything by bragging, let alone a piece that needs not be told in the first person:”I graduated from Penn State with a Bachelor’s Degree in English.”

  3. I agree with hannahgartrell and Txdaddy!!! Bad post, doesn’t make sense and seems like a list of personal grievences with how things are advertised on menus than blunders. Does make some valid points but just not a good quality list. TopTenzMaster u seemed a little Upset by hannah’s comment and even a little hostile. Calm down a bit pal chill av a lil smoke n get away from the computer 1nce in a while. Site is overall very good though thanks.

  4. Honest question:
    I thought it was spelled Bleu cheese. Which is it?
    Also, while this list is an interesting read, most of the stuff on here aren’t menu blunders–just restaurant blunders.

  5. Christina Moore on

    That Krispy Kreme burger concoction is absolutely disgusting! I do not know why or how anyone could actually eat that.

  6. Just wanted to comment on #2 and #3. I was in a Chinese restaurant recently where I noticed one of the items listed on the menu was “fred” rice. I allowed for the fact that the person who wrote it did not speak English as a first language.

    As far as number 3 is concerned, in some states, a restaurant or eating establishment is allowed to use the words ” home made” if it is part of the product description on the package,(ie. “home made” apple pie), even if it is not, technically, home made.

  7. Not funny or entertaining. Not even a little bit.

    You’ll make a perfect English professor: provincial, condescending, and boring. Failing that, you can look forward to your career in fast food.

  8. “Maybe, but at least it’s not blatantly contradictory like ‘jumbo shrimp.’ Don’t get me started.”

    There is NOTHING contradictory about that phrase. “Shrimp” is the name of an animal, some of which may be described by a size such as “jumbo.” “Shrimp” is not a size, and this is non an oxymoron like is commonly claimed.

    The Penn State English department hangs its head in shame over this “word-nerd”.

  9. Wow what a snob! Was the “I graduated from Penn State….” really necessary? Congrats, word-nerd, on your almost useless degree. Some of these things are amusing (the “au jus” thing), but most of it is just nit-picking over marketing techniques. Yeah, we should never expect adequacy (#6), but putting those buzzwords/phrases in their menus is good advertising.

    I’m graduating from the University of Wisconsin with a BS in biochemistry, and being a science nerd, your presence in the gene pool upsets me.

  10. The Kriswpy Kreme burger is called a Luther Burger. I have been following it a long time. It was originally sold at a place called Mulligans just outside of Atlanta, Ga. The place closed down in ’08. The Grizzlies sold them for a short while.

    It should be noted, a real Luther Burger has an egg as well. Thats a horrible picture you have as an example though. Doesnt make my mouth water at all.

    I have convinced several people to try one and they all loved it, despite initial hesitations and concerns. (All the burgers were hoomemade, cant buy them anywhere here.)

    Just so it is known, I am a skinny person who is very athletic. I just love food.

  11. haha, shrimp scampi. Thanks for the article! and for the record, I do think I want to try one of those Krispy Kreme doughnuts. Time to start exercising and dieting so I can actually eat one without too many repercussions!

  12. I thought it was funny, but it was awfully pretentious. And this word nerd fails to consider other languages in its nerdiness. He gives other people a hard time for not understanding other languages but his “Come Circa Italiano” makes no sense. It uses the wrong ‘about’ since circa is ‘about’ in the sense of ‘about a dozen’ not ‘about something’. Italian doesn’t really have the ‘how about this’ English does. It would be more like “E L’Italiano?” which is the basic translation. Oops.

  13. Slartibartfast on

    While not all of the transgressions on this list bother me, I always cringe when I see “with au jus” on a menu. Sometimes though, menu typos are just plain funny. There is a restaurant in an industrial district here in Oshawa, Ontario with a “sandwich board” style ad out on the street to snag passers-by. It reads “Breakfast… Full Coarse Meals.”. Strangely, the other side of the sandwich board spells course correctly. It always makes me chuckle to see it though… I prefer my meals “fine.”

  14. Giu Syndome on

    Yeah, I agree. “Come Circa Italiano” is translated word-for-word literally from English, which you can not do with Italian. “E L’Italiano” is good, or even the slightly longer “Che Ne Pensi Dell’Italiano?” (lit. “What do you think of Italian?”, but basically means “How about Italian?”)

  15. if u look at home made in the dictionary, the meaning is varied. home-made?? made from home,
    made crudely by the hand, made by oneself..you don’t see their point..they used the word home-made to let the consumer know that someone made it and not a machine..either way, nobody knows if its true in all cases…

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