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Thursday, June 10, 2010

Menu Wording That Fails

Posted By on Thu, Jun 10, 2010 at 6:15 PM

JOHN BIRDSALL
  • John Birdsall
Our favorite morsel from the blogs.

What's the right language for menus? As Hot Food Porn's Eddie Lau preps menu concepts for the Summit (he's signed on as chef), he ponders the proper wording. Lau:

There have been instances where menus have been an undeniable factor in restaurant success and failure.... A menu that reads like a book can be intimidating, tiring and confusing for diners ― which can lead to a situation where the words may ultimately overwhelm the food. A menu that reads too minimalist can be too vague and uninformative ― leading to improper interpretations/expectations of what is actually written versus what is actually served. The dream menu should have the perfect balance of food seduction and honest expectations, which is honestly impossible.

One option we think fails: The list of ingredients. An example, from Barbacco: "roasted mushrooms/polenta croutons/caramelized onion/radicchio/red wine vinaigrette." That's more a line cook's to-do list for stocking her station, not a coherent expression of a dish.

Then there are the scrupulously branded ones. Exhibit A, from Radius: "Rocky Jr. fried chicken." Do we really need to know that, especially when the trumpeted brand falls short of super-premium. But offer a Soul Food Farm bird? It might just be impressive enough ― or obnoxious enough ― to work.

Follow us on Twitter: @SFoodie. Contact me at John.Birdsall@SFWeekly.com

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