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How to Write a Menu Description Part 4

Desserts in the window of a cafe

Part 4.

Gregg Rapp's final four tips to execute an exceptional menu.

Evocative Language

Being factually accurate is great, but what about desire? Get them drooling over desserts before they’ve even finished choosing a main course. Tap into their imagination!

Here are some examples.

Dull

  • Pork Chop; served with apple braised cabbage and jus

  • Chocolate cake; served with raspberries and whipped cream

Exciting

  • Wood-fired grilled pork chop; double-cut, bone-in Berkshire pork chop, sweet and sour braised cabbage doused in a sweet, apple cider jus.

  • Double decker chocolate cake; four layers of espresso soaked sponge piled upon thick layers of rich chocolate ganache served with a punchy, raspberry coulis and fluffy whipped cream

(Yes, I’m hungry now too)

  
Have you heard of Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think by Prof. Brian Wansink
 
He speaks of a study he was involved with; by rotating the same six dishes in a cafeteria, alternating the menu with basic and more descriptive language they could measure the effect of this type of language on sales.

There was a 27% increase in sales when evocative language was used.

The same study found that language can genuinely impact a customers impression of how a dish tastes. No, really! Participants rated the evocatively described dishes more highly.

Adjust the Length of Your Descriptions to your Advantage

Think of the length of a menu items' description as reflective of its importance.

Guests don’t spend a particularly long time reading the menu, and certainly wont get through the whole thing. So are your burgers described in more detail than your speciality steaks?

A delicious burger sitting on the restaurant pass

 

Lost in Translation

If you need your menu to be understood by speakers of various languages, make it as easy as you can for them.

Maybe you can afford the space to add another language description in italics or a different colour below each item.

Or maybe to create a more meaningful experience for your visitors you have a totally separate menu written in their language.

Flags of many nationalities hanging as bunting on a street

Make it Your Own

If you’re hiring a writer or a marketing guru to write your menu, chances are it will end up unrecognisable to the chef who created the dishes.

Who is the heart and soul of the restaurant? What makes it special? What is the tone and personality?

By all means get it proof-read, but chances are you, or the manager, the owner or the chef are the ones who know your business best and should be the ones making your menu honest and inviting.

A group of people clinking their glasses in celebrating at a restaurant

Well, there you have it.

We've given you the tools- it's all here!

Make the most of it.

This series focussed on menu descriptions, there is more to learn on increasing the profitability and popularity of your business.

Check it out here.