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August 26, 2007

Comments

Brendan

I think perhaps the most elegant solution would be in the naming and separation of these three sections. It sounds to me like your category-one diner wouldn't mind being told that their selections are safe, and nor would those ordering the pastas (though really, I very rarely expect a pasta to wow me – it seems manifestly like a safe dish). But for those looking for the rave dish, if the first two categories had some sort of indicator word in their section title that implied something like 'safe' or 'standby' or 'comfort', it should act as a fairly good indicator that this is not where they should be looking to jump out of the box.

Of course, having your servers on board when people ask for recommendations would be another step towards helping to sift your diners. If my server told me that people really enjoyed safe-pasta-X, but that if I was feeling a bit more experimental and wanted to be wowed I should try specialty-dish-Y, I feel like I wouldn't be offended no matter what camp I was in, but would have a clear indicator what direction I should go.

And really, I'd say a lot of it rests on your diners. If you're going to a restaurant and want to be wowed, shouldn't you grab something that jumps off the page in a way your category one or two don't do as much? And really, shouldn't you be ordering a special anyway? If I wanted to be wowed, that's certainly what I would be doing.

I do love all three sections though (even if the third only occasionally offers its bounty up to my dietarily-limited self), and think you've done a wonderful job of balance.

Chubby

Referencing an out of business eatery is probably a wobbly idea, but do you remember how Goron's House of Fine Eats broke up their menu? They had titles for the different food genres that clearly defined their boundries with "comfort" "luxury and "local showcase" sections (among others.) This was very helpful in getting you to understand their thinking and guiding diners to their comfort zones.

cedichou

That's some pretty good reviews you got, especially compared to the two other places that one of the reviewer mentions as local benchmarks. If your "image problem" is to get better reviews that these guys, then it's a good problem to have!

sam

thanks for sharing this - I found it a fascinating perspective.


sam

Dave Duma

Your description of the menu intrigued me enough that I did a little web searching and ((I think)) I found your restaurant's web site. The first section of the menu, that you describe here as "designed to put wary diners at ease. To let them be in control" but I have to say, I was taken aback.
I think I'm a foodie: I watch serious cooking shows (Great Chefs, Pepin, the Food Network years ago when Milliken and Feninger were on) and I buy the cook books but I don't even know what charmoula sauce is.

I think this ties back to your frequent comments about customers who walk out.... Someone who isn't a foodie might be afraid of this menu...

what's the difference between saute and fry?
what if the server laughs at me?
why do I have to figure out how to make my dinner?
will I ruin my own dinner and it will be my fault?

Rather than "putting wary diners at ease" this might be what scares them.

This is just me speculating, but...ask your servers who orders from the "choice" section - regulars or tourists.

Perhaps you might rearrange the menu so that the choice section isn't what they see first.

As you said above "When the first timers order from the THIRD section of the menu, they generally have a great time..." So maybe THIRD should be FIRST.

just speculating...

haddock

Good points Dave. I'm sure that a portion of potential guests might be intimidated by a couple of the sauces, or the prospect of having to choose their own dinners, but most are savvy enough to know that it's hard to go wrong with fried chicken and BBQ sauce.

I don't think the ones who leave even get so far as worrying about those decisions. It has certainly helped having a menu book of all the other options in the area at my disposal.

Dave Duma

You don't have to post this publicly....

If you say so. it's just that in all the times I've been to a restaurant I've only seen people leave once but you've talked about it as a recurring problem. So your book is a way to get them to sit back down after they try decided to leave, but you haven't figured out what's causing the problem. You're only treating the symptom.

I really am just trying to help here. I hope you figure it out.

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