It is a list of food items offered for a meal along with prices whether set for individual items or for the whole meal.
Menu is a list , in a specific order, of dishes to be served at a given meal
For commercial establishment it will also include the prices (either set for individual items or for the whole meal), taxes and other charges applicable
HISTORY AND ORIGIN OF MENU
The word menu was originated in the year 1541 when the Duke Henry of Brunswick, was holding a party where was constantly referring to a piece of paper
An exquisite lady was enquiring with the Duke about the food items in a nasal tone saying, “may I know”. This phrase was later converted to the word “Menu”.
In 1718, we get the first recorded description of menu, where in a party the guest were able to look at the names, recipes and ingredients of the preparations in the look called “ Ecriteau” in French which means “Bill of Fare”
PRESENTATION OF MENU
It is usually the style of presentation of menu along with the prices mentioned. There are ways of presentation of menu.
- Book form
- Card form
- Board form Place mats
This type of presentation of menu is very common in large establishments where there are more items. The items are listed along with their respective prices. Most of the restaurants follow this style.
The food items along with their pricing are written on a card for smaller establishment.
It is mostly found in fast food centres, food courts or pavilion where a large board is displayed with the names of the dishes and their pricing.
Such form of menu presentation is generally found in food service areas where turnover of the guest is very high and fast efficient service is required. Place mats are printed papers placed on the guest table with the names and prices displayed. Once the guest is done with their meal, the mats are immediately removed and new ones are placed. Usually followed in coffee shop, fast food centres etc.
TYPES OF MENU
Table d’hôte (table of the host)
It is a fixed menu generally of a starter, a main course, a dessert and a beverage at last, and is served at a stated price which is for the entire meal.
Cater to a large number of people in a short period of time like institution, industries, transport catering etc.
À la carte (in the style of a card)
It is the selection from the menu card where each item is priced separately.
In this the menu is presented in form of a card. All the food items are listed along with their individual respective pricing. It is most popularly used menu.
Other forms of menu are:-
CARTE DU JOUR– (menu for the day): It is a card comprising of food items listed with composite pricing and has been planned for the day. Mostly used for institutional/ industrial/ welfare catering.
PLAT DU JOUR– (dish of the day/ chef’s special): A special food item prepared by the chef for a particular day. It is quite expensive.
PLATS DU JOUR-(plates/ dishes of the day): When there are multiple special items it is not verbally promoted but written in a card with individual pricing.
OBJECTIVES OF MENU PLANNING
- The menu must satisfy guest expectations.
- The menu must attain marketing objectives.
- The menu must help achieve quality objective.
- The menu must be cost effective.
- The menu must be accurate.
- The menu must satisfy guest expectations: Because guest satisfaction is a byword of dinning service management, your menu must, above everything else, reflect your guest’s tastes and preferences – neither the chef’s, the food and beverage director’s nor those of the manager of the dinning outlet.
- The menu must attain marketing objectives: While part of marketing is discovering what guests want, another important aspect is providing for their needs at convenient locations and times and at prices that they are willing and able to pay. In some cases, excellent product development, pricing and promotion will convince guests that you have what they desire – even if up until now they never knew what it was that they’d been looking for.
- The menu must help achieve quality objective: Quality concerns are closely related to marketing concerns. It is important that you clearly understand all aspects of quality requirements and develop menus that incorporate these standards into your food menus. High quality and good nutrition go hand – in – hand. A menu that helps achieve quality objectives would also offer enough choices to the guests so that they can order a nutritionally well-balanced meal. Other aspects of food quality include flavor, texture, color, shape, consistency, palatability, flair and guest appeal. As you plan the menu, remember to balance it so that textures, colors, shapes and flavors are not repetitive.
- The menu must be cost effective: Both commercial and institutional food service operations should plan menus that recognize financial restraints. Generally, commercial properties cannot attain their profit objectives unless their product costs, which the menu often dictates, fall within a specific range. In institutional food service operations, minimizing costs is also the menu planner’s responsibility. Whether you plan a menu for a commercial or an institutional operation, you must select menu items that are within the operation’s budget.
- The menu must be accurate: You are responsible for telling the truth when you formulate menus. You must not mislabel a product, describe it inaccurately, or deceive the guest by your menu presentation. The menu is a powerful advertising tool. It can influence what guests order and their expectations. If your food service operation does not deliver the type of products that your menu represents, your guests may feel cheated and never return.
MENU PLANNING CONSIDERATION
- Colour repetition– repetition of colour in the dishes of a menu will be monotonous for a guest which would harm the appetite of the guest.
- Balance of Heaviness- while fixing a menu the balance of heaviness should always be kept in mind i.e., from light to heavy and ultimately to light.
- Repetition of Ingredients– As with repetition of colour, repetition of ingredients or taste will also harm the appetite of a guest and will be monotonous and irritating for the guest
- Kitchen Skills– the efficiency of kitchen department and its output capacity is an essential factor in determining the type of menu.
- Seasonal Favorites– availability and usage of seasonal fresh fruits and vegetables are other factors to be considered while planning a menu. A good menu should always include seasonal favorites in its courses for example mango in summers, carrot in winters etc.
- Local Favorites– The favorites of the local people, their eating habits and food culture needs to be taken into consideration while planning a menu.
- Availability of equipments – while planning the menu, availability of the equipments required to prepare as well as serve the food needs to be considered.
CONSTRAINT OF MENU PLANNING
- Age– The preference of food items varies with age group. The children and aged people prefer less spicy food while the younger likes rich and spicy dishes. Ideal menu should take care of people in each and every age group.
- Profession– People in different profession have different food preferences, athletes, sport person will go for high carbohydrate while people in entertainment business will prefer low fat/ cholesterol diet.
- Nationality– people of different nation have different food preferences. An European will like mild continental food, while Indian, Thai and Mexican will prefer spicy food
- Group size– when group size is large it is difficult to serve elaborate menu.