Is it time to rethink that menu format?

Is it time to rethink that menu format?

Restaurant menus are all over the map, and often fail at two of their primary functions: informing and selling. In “Why Menus Suck—and 5 Ideas to Improve Them,” Grubstreet.com’s Geoffrey Gray considers how menus have changed over the years, and how they can be more useful.

Among Gray’s complaints:

• Descriptions that are no more than a list of ingredients, with no reference to cooking technique and no attempt to whet the appetite.

• Lots of useless information. The author puts the list of local purveyors into that category.

• Menus demand too much of the diner’s attention, to the detriment of normal conversation.

And some of his suggestions for improvements?

• Limit choices to avoid overwhelming the guest and to make sure only the best dishes are represented.

• Provide more explicit instruction. If you are serving small plates, the menu should make note and suggest how many to order.

Ditch the cute category names, such as “snacks” and “for the table,” and provide a simple list in order of size and heft.

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