On menus


There are many seemingly minor things that bug me. Menus, for example. I don't consider them minor and you shouldn't either. Think about it -- when you go to a restaurant the menu is your guide to what you will be investing your hard earned money in. Ordering from a restaurant is more than a choice of food, it's a business decision.

This might be why so many menus feel like marketing blurbs as opposed to accurate, simple descriptions of what you potentially may be eating. You lured us in already, no need to try to sell us again, unless you really want us to get the most expensive thing on the menu. That, however, is upselling, and not something you should strive for unless you sell used Gremlins on Sprague.

Here are three ultra basic tips we at Team SpoCOOL feel restaurants should take to heart:

Drop adjectives and poetry: Surely you've seen this. "A tender, gingerly seared smithereen of Kobe beef, delicately dressed by chanting Tibetan monks in a sauce béarnaise, prepared using the bain marie method as scribed in Auguste Escoffier's last will and testament." Just title it "Kobe beef in béarnaise sauce" and let the customer sing poetically if they enjoy the food. We could also get in a long discussion about the wisdom of calling it "Kobe," but let's save that for some other day.

Speak English: Not in the political sense of Idaho being afraid of Spanish, but there are frankly so many crazy food expressions out there that few understand all of them. "Béarnaise"? It's fine to keep that on the menu as an item title, but many don't know what it is and would like a short definition. It doesn't take much to describe it as a sauce consisting of egg yolks, butter, and herbs (or whatever variation you do) in a nice readable way. Just don't do it in a haiku form.

Symbols and abbreviations: Symbols make sense, what with how certain items are "heart healthy" or "gluten free" or "vegan" or "vegetarian" or whatever you have. Using symbols save space, and is unobtrusive for those of us who don't really care about any of those. Do use symbols that make sense however. A ♥ (that's a heart symbol if your browser doesn't support it) indicates something is heart healthy. "^" does not. "GF" is a common abbreviation for "gluten free;" "∂" is not.