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The menu is the center of your restaurant's universe. The menu conveys the restaurant's overall concept to your customers and should express the passion and care that goes into the food you're serving. The following advice can help you design a great menu:

  • Many attractive menu-item names start with the preparation method. Words like braised, seared, pan-fried, oven-roasted, wood-fired, and poached lend a level of prestige to a dish that increases a diner's perception of its value.

  • Incorporate reasons that a dish is special, different, or unique into the name. Is your beef dry aged? Are your eggs farm fresh? Is your bread baked in-house each morning? Is your produce locally grown or organic?

  • Great ingredients make for great descriptions. Are there any standouts or hard-to-find items? Does a dish contain seasonal items that you should highlight?

  • Highlight where the ingredients come from. Kansas City beef and South African cool-water lobster mean something to people.

  • Be more specific. Sure you're serving pasta, but what kind of pasta? Tell the guests whether it's fettuccine, linguine, capellini, or radiatore. And that sauce you're serving tonight is probably great, but be more descriptive — ragout, coulis, demi-glace, or reduction, for example. Getting down to specifics has the dual advantage of providing more information and enhancing the diner's perception of the dish.

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