Menus are more than just a list of food and beverage options – they are the gateway to a memorable dining experience! A well-designed menu enhances the overall ambiance of a restaurant, communicates its unique brand identity, and even influences customer spending habits. On the other hand, a poorly designed menu leads to customer frustration, confusion, and even dissatisfaction. Hence, knowing the five different types of restaurant menus can be valuable knowledge for anyone in the restaurant industry.
In fact, understanding the difference between each menu will help you make informed decisions about which menu to use in your establishment, based on your restaurant’s style, cuisine, and pricing strategy. And by selecting the right one, you can create a more seamless and enjoyable dining experience for your customers, ultimately leading to greater customer satisfaction and loyalty.
The menu is the first impression that customers have of your restaurant. Are you making the right impression? Keep reading to find out what type of menu you should go for and how to craft a menu that wows your customers from the moment they sit down!
Here are the 5 types of restaurant menus :
This is a type of menu that offers a fixed set of dishes that are available every day, with little to no variation in the items offered. It is typically used in restaurants that offer a consistent dining experience, where customers can expect to find the same dishes every time they visit.
This type of restaurant menu typically include a variety of appetizers, entrees, and desserts, and may also offer side dishes and beverages. They often have a broad range of options, including vegetarian, gluten-free, and other dietary restriction options. The pricing for each item is generally fixed, with few or no changes based on seasonality or availability of ingredients.
Examples of Restaurants that Use It:
- Fast food chains, such as McDonald’s and Burger King, typically use static menus that feature the same items in all of their locations worldwide.
- Casual dining restaurants, such as Applebee’s and Chili’s, often use this menu type with a set selection of dishes that are available at all of their locations.
- Fine dining restaurants may also use this menu to offer a consistent dining experience to their guests, although they may update their menu more frequently than other types of restaurants to reflect seasonal changes or new ingredients.
à la Carte Menu
This is a type of menu in a restaurant or food establishment where each dish or item is priced separately.It is often used in fine dining restaurants, where customers are looking for a customized dining experience and are willing to pay a premium for high-quality ingredients and presentation.
They typically include a range of appetizers, entrees, and desserts, with a focus on high-quality ingredients and complex preparations. Each item on the menu is usually priced individually, and customers can mix and match items to create their own unique meal. The pricing for each item is generally higher than on a static menu, reflecting the higher quality of the ingredients and the more complex preparations required.
Examples of Restaurants that Use It:
- Fine dining restaurants, such as Le Bernardin in New York City, typically use this menu to offer customers a customizable dining experience with a focus on high-quality ingredients and complex preparations.
- Upscale steakhouse restaurants, such as Ruth’s Chris Steak House, may use this menu type to allow customers to choose their own sides and add-ons to their steak orders.
- Seafood restaurants, such as Legal Sea Foods, may also use it to allow customers to choose their own preparation styles and sauces for their seafood dishes.
Table d’Hote Menu
This is a type of menu that offers a complete meal for a fixed price, usually with limited choices for each course. The term “table d’hôte” comes from French, meaning “host’s table”, and is traditionally used in reference to a meal that is served at a communal table. It is often used in restaurants or events where a fixed menu is offered for a set price, typically with a few options for each course.
They typically include a starter, main course, and dessert, as well as coffee or tea. The items offered on the menu are usually selected by the chef and may change daily or seasonally. The focus is on providing a complete dining experience, with each course complementing the others and reflecting the chef’s style and creativity.
Examples of Events or Establishments that Use It:
- Weddings and other catered events often use it to offer a complete meal for a “prix fixe”. The menu may be designed to complement the theme of the event or the preferences of the guests.
- Cruise ships and other all-inclusive resorts may also use it to simplify the dining experience for guests, with a fixed menu for each meal that is included in the price of the cruise or stay.
- Some upscale restaurants, such as The French Laundry in California, may offer this menu as an alternative to their à la carte menu, to provide customers with a complete dining experience that showcases the chef’s style and creativity.
Du Jour Menu
This is also known as the “menu of the day” or “daily specials menu.” It offers a selection of dishes that are available for that day only. The menu items are typically determined by the chef, based on what ingredients are available and what dishes they want to showcase.
It is often written on a chalkboard or displayed separately from the regular menu.It typically includes a variety of appetizers, entrees, and desserts, and may also offer daily specials for drinks or side dishes. The pricing for each item on the menu is generally fixed, with no changes based on ingredients or seasonal availability.
Examples of Restaurants that Use it:
- Bistros and cafes often use it to offer a selection of daily specials that highlight fresh, seasonal ingredients. For example, a cafe might offer a daily soup, sandwich, and dessert on their “menu of the day”
- Farm-to-table restaurants may use it to showcase ingredients that are locally sourced and in season. The menu might include items such as a daily catch from a nearby fishery or a salad featuring ingredients from a local farm.
- Some upscale restaurants may use du jour menus to offer unique dishes that are not available on the regular menu, allowing customers to try something new and different each time they visit.
Prix Fixe Menu
In French, “Prix fixe” means “fixed price,” which refers to a type of menu where all visitors are offered the same number of courses, usually an appetizer, salad or soup, main course, and dessert, for a predetermined price. This means that regardless of the specific dishes they choose within each course, everyone pays the same price.
- Fine dining restaurant use it as a way to offer a curated dining experience for their customers.
- Catering companies may offer this menu for events such as weddings, corporate events, and other special occasions. It can be customized to fit the theme and budget of the event.
- Cruise ships to streamline the dining experience for their guests. These menus often feature several courses and are included in the cost of the cruise.
- Tasting rooms, such as wineries and breweries often offer tasting menus that feature a selection of their products paired with small plates of food. These menus are usually prix fixe and offer customers a chance to try a variety of items at a set price.
- Hotel restaurants: Many high-end hotels have restaurants that offer this menus as a way to attract guests and provide a high-quality dining experience.
Menus are like the storytellers of the food industry, communicating a restaurant’s unique style and showcasing their creativity. Whether it’s a static menu or any other menu, each type offers a different experience for customers. With a good understanding of these menus plus a good menu planning and catchy menu design, you will be able to create a dining experience that is unforgettable. So, next time you’re perusing a menu, remember that it’s not just a list of food items, but a journey waiting to be explored!
Now that you have been introduced to the five types of menus, you should have an idea about what is the best menu for your restaurant or rather the perfect way to showcase your food and drink items. However, this alone won’t make your food service organization stand out from the crowd, a good design is a MUST!