Complex and clever menus have their place in the dining world and I would be the first to put my hand up to eat at Heston Blumenthal’s table any day of the week. What doesn’t work for restaurants is when they try to implement complex menus without the right tools, know how, training, or staff to make it work.
I am a big believer in keeping it simple when it comes to food in restaurants. Quality ingredients executed well can define a dining experience. When you prepare meals with fresh, well-cooked, well-seasoned produce consistently, you offer a quality experience and in turn a great product.
It’s not to say that I don’t like complex, fine-dining style food, I do, however I think keeping it simple with great flavours will help a restaurant in many ways.
Complex menus require an executive chef team who can ensure that all the tricky details come together each and every service. Other factors to consider when planning complex menus are having costly and complex ingredients on hand which in turn can result in more kitchen wastage due to the number of elements required to deliver a dish. Additionally, front of house staff need to have extensive training in every area of the dish to ensure they can explain the ingredients to even the most discerning of diners.
I find menu planning is often a little pie in the sky with some venues. They plan elaborate menus to get people in the door, but the execution can be poor when they cannot deliver on quality, speed or presentation. Many restaurateurs could stand themselves in better stead by sticking to what they know, and doing it well. By simply providing great food, real value for money, and ensuring that it is coming out of the kitchen in a timely manner, you can guarantee you will send your diners home with a smile on their faces.
Often keeping it simple is the best strategy to increasing services levels in venues that have long wait times, complaints about value for money, and food that doesn’t deliver on taste or price. Restaurants and Cafes that try to be too complex in their offerings often haemorrhage money down the drain, not from lack of passion or hospitality know how, it’s more that they forget who their target market is. A complex fine dining menu in a country pub town (for example) could work, but you may also alienate your ideal target market.
When everyone is looking to provide something unique and different to get customers through the door, some owners lose their way in terms of getting back to the basics of hospitality and remembering why they started in the first place. The answer could be as simple as offering simply great food, and quality service.
Love to hear your thoughts.
Kate Bickford MD & Owner - BK AGENCY: