The most important controlling element in the servicing process of any restaurant type establishment is the menu. It is figuratively referred to as the "authorised representative" of a restaurant and creates a constant link between establishment and guests.
A menu is a list of all food and drink that is offered at an establishment (restaurant, cafe, bar) during it's opening times arranged in a particular order. When making a menu the following dish structure is suggested:
1. Specialities / Signature Dishes
2. Snacks (cold and hot)
4. Main Courses (Fish, Meat and Vegetarian separately)
6. Drinks (Non-alcoholic, Hot, Alcoholic)
In the event of a large quantity of drinks being available it is recommend to have these on a separate menu. The drinks offered have are of decisive importance when it comes to the success of any nourishment establishment. Therefore is the critical to bring the correct drinks selection to the menu while factoring in the guests' wishes as much as possible.
Drinks are usually split into two large categories; Alcoholic and Non-alcoholic.
Alcoholic drinks, in turn, are divided into subsections of Beer, Wine and Spirits.
Drinks are listed as follows:
|Spirits and liqueurs||
|Mixed Drinks and||Cocktails|
|Soft drinks||Mineral water, soft drinks, juices|
|Hot drinks||Coffee, Tea, Milk|
In recent years people have come to think that mineral water is an integral part to a good meal. This should be included when offering mineral water:
- Local mineral water
- National mineral water
- Imported mineral water (Perrier, Evian)
- Still mineral water (without gas)
- Spring Water
- Table water (Bonaqua)
Drinks in a menu can also be categorised under:
- method of serving (pouring) - with glasses, champagne flutes, wine glasses, sealed decanters, bottled.
- Age - first "young" wines and then aged
- Price - start with cheaper wines followed by more expensive ones.
Additionally the menu can also have taste descriptions of different drinks. For example: for wine; delicate, thin, rich, semi-sweet, sweet, sour, astringent, bitter etc. Such recommendations should not be overly used however as this can lead to guests getting a sense of the menu not being accurate after having tasted it themselves.
When creating a menu the breadth and depth of foods and drinks offered should be considered.
Breadth refers to a large variety of all different kinds of food and drink: meat dishes from game, poultry, pork, veal, fish dishes from salt and freshwater products, vegetarian, baked and spicy dishes, alcoholic and non alcoholic drinks.
Depth means the amount of variety offered fro within one subcategory of products. Large depth is usually available in specialised establishments: fish, dairy, vegetarian, pizzerias, ravioli.
Depending on the assortment of guests served, the type and strength of a food enterprise, form, method of serving and other factors are differentiated int the following menu types.
Menu "a la catre". Shows portioned dishes with individual prices for each. This is most often used in expensive restaurants, located in high class hotel complexes where the hotel and restaurant concept allows for more lavish and comfortable circumstances.
Menu "Table d'hote". Offers one or more variants of each dish for fixed prices. This type of menu is widely used in food services in hotels as guests think it more economical.
Menu "du Jour". Daily menu. The tourist menu is built so as to attract tourist attention, emphasising low pricing and nutritional value of dishes which are essential pieces of information for a tourist.
Californian Menu. In some californian type restaurants any dish and be ordered at any time.
The majority of restaurants have a pre-determined menu that doesn't change day to day. These menus are called static. A static menu can change to include seasonal dishes or a change in the dishes offered that don't have high demand.
Opposing the static menu is the cyclical menu. It offers a specific list of food and drink that is rotated out and repeated over a certain time.