How to create the perfect menu for your restaurant

Nicole Diano
Foto con un piatto un metro e un orologio

Your restaurant's menu is like a business card: the first impression is essential in determining the meal choices of your customers. Your menu must satisfy both the diversity of your guests' tastes and communicate the style of your cuisine. In recent years this demand has shaped the profession of menu engineering: it aims to nudge the attention of customers thanks to the careful arrangement of dishes, design and graphics.

And how about you, are you following the right parameters of the perfect menu? At Menutech, we have prepared more than 7,000 menus for our restaurant, hotel and catering clients. Here are some of our tips:

The perfect menu's format and size: the rule of 3 minutes

Simplicity is key. According to the 3 minutes "rule", a customer's attention does not exceed this time. If your menu is too long, your dishes will not stand out. In this short amount of time, the customer will decide what to eat, so the main objective of the restaurant is to support his or her decisions.

Usually a menu of two pages is recommended in order to highlight all dishes. As far as the dishes are concernedm it is suggested not to add more than 7 meals per section.

 

Naming your meals: be simple but specific

The perfect menu should catch your guests' attention without going over the top.

Avoid eccentric styles and cumbersome wording. Translations should not be done literally (word for word) but adapted to the language in which the menu is written.

Communicating to customers the contents of the dishes is important, such as the place of origin, the type of products used, highlighted local, sustainable or seasonal products. These are all a plus that will make your menu look special, and make it easy for the consumer to exclude certain portions if he or she is suffering from allergies or food intolerances. We also recommend a separate list that includes drinks, wines, coffee to pair them individually to the chosen dish.

 

Choosing the right colors and white spaces

There is a natural tendency for customers to choose the items located on top of your menu's page. So how do you give each dish a fair chance?

One tip is to use white spaces between the different courses, separating them within the menu will certainly give more attention to each of them.

The use of colors should not be underestimated, but pay attention here as well, if used excessively they could make the menu lose its elegant or calm character.

 

Knowing your guests' reading strategy: the "Golden Triangle"

Your customers will unconsciously (1) start reading from the central part of the menu, (2) move up to the right, and (3) go to the opposite corner to the left side. It is therefore recommended to prepare the most popular dishes, in the central area of the page.

If your restaurant offers a book-style menu, the customer will probably tend to first inspect the dishes placed at the top right of the second page.

If the menu is a single page menu, the dish placed in the central area of the sheet will be immediately visible.

 

Choosing the right images for your menu: cover and background pictures

The use of a simple style and a clear background is recommended when choosing graphics for your menu. The images can be added to the cover page or inserted directly as a background. Make sure the image is not distracting the customer when reading dishes and descriptions.

The layout of the menu will depend on your logo, the list of dishes with their descriptions, allergens and special diet icons, as well as additional elements you might want to showcase (for example: the history of your establishment, opening hours for a golf course or social media links).

To have a clearer view of the dish, especially in international touristic hotspots, it is useful to combine the dish name with a photo. Alternatively, make sure to translate the dish with an additional explanation.

For example: DO NOT translate "Toad in the Hole" to "Un crapeau dans un trou" in French, but make sure to explain it is "oven-baked sausages in batter, served with vegetables, mashed potates and gravy", a.k.a. "saucisses cuites au four dans une pâte, servi avec des légumes, de la purée et de la sauce.".

Toad in a hole translation fail

 

Are you looking for beautifully designed, allergy-friendly and fully customisable menu templates?

To conclude, the perfect menu could seem complicated - but in reality, it takes just a few steps to create it. Menutech, a software designed for managers of hotels, restaurants and catering services, makes it easier to create the perfect menu without compromising on style. You will never mistakenly declare an allergen again, as our software automatically detects allergens and lets you add icons for special diets, and so much more. Take inspiration from our publicly available menu templates: try our software 10 days for free and create the perfect menu in a simple, fast and fun way. What are you waiting for? Start now! 

 

Banquet menu template on Menutech

 

Bilingual menu on Menutech

 

Lunch and dinner menu

 

White bats

Surprise your guests with a special Halloween-themed menu design! Take a look at our 3 free boo-tiful templates.
As always, all 14 allergens are automatically declared.

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