Ideas for comfort food menu

Discussion in 'Professional Chefs' started by sig85, Sep 11, 2012.

  1. sig85

    sig85

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    Hello, I've been looking for some advice/help on designing a new menu with focus on comfort foods and homemade hot sandwiches. It will be for a restaurant that has been a seasonal staple in my small town(25,000)for several decades. The operation is very successful in the summer months due to its location being right next to the lake in town. After the summer dies down so does the restaraunt. I'm working with the new owner on developing a menu that will attract customers into the fall/ winter months. Right now everything is coming in pre-made and due to our large volume over the summer, we could only change so much. Any suggestions for a comfort food style menu would be appreciated. Looking for fresh, easy, homemade dishes that wouldn't be intimidating or hard to put out, for a staff of largely first time cooks.
     
  2. cookinwthflame

    cookinwthflame

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    Hey there. First off I would like to say, 25000 is small?! I live in a town of 8000 LOL.
    I'm not a professional, just a dude who loves to cook. I don't know what kind of food ur restaurant cooks normally but 2 of my favorite winter dishes r shepherds pie and clam chowder in a bread bowl. From what I under stand is they r both very easy to do in a restaurant setting. The chowder, well its soup, enough said. The shepherds pie, make the filling ahead of time then when ordered fill a ramikin top with mashed potatoes, broil then serve. Again I'm not a professional but I'm pretty sure a trained monkey could do that :) have fun
     
  3. berndy

    berndy

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    It's a shame that trained monkeys are very hard to find here where I am/img/vbsmilies/smilies/confused.gif
     
  4. blairbo baggins

    blairbo baggins

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    Pulled pork with homemade bbq sauce

    Homemade veggie or regular chili

    Daily soups



    It depends on the demographic in the area.

    Ur target is locals in the winter months.

    How old are they?

    How rich are they?

    Go around to the other successful restaurants see what they do.

    Dont copy , get inspired.

    If it is as slow as you say you can do a lot more scratch cooking.

    And cleaning.; )
     
  5. fryguy

    fryguy

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    Meatloaf

    Bicuits and Gravy

    Chicken and Dumplings

    Braised Short Ribs

    Chicken Fried Steak

    Anything with lot's of gravy
     
  6. r6zack

    r6zack

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    Comfort food is such a wide category that deals a lot with where you are from / grew up, etc... Comfort food to me is some super heavy, super rich roux based mac n cheese that wants to instantly clog your arteries. Comfort food to someone who grew up with more money may be steak and potatoes, regardless; here are a few comfort food choices that you can easily "sex" up, either with ingredients or presentation options to make them as glamorous, or as "at-home" as you want them to be.

    Pot pies - easy easy, about 10 oz of cooked chicken, a full .237 ladle of your veg/sauce mix, and top with a pastry crust. Wrap and store in walk in, pull out to order and give about 8-10 mins at 475 to toast the crust and get the mix nice and hot. 

    Meatloaf - I know someone else said this but yeah.. so damn delicious.

    Shrimp (or chicken) and grits - Another dish that's super easy to sex up or dumb down, whichever way you want to go with it.

    Mac n cheese - You can either go gourmet, roux based, multiple cheese mixture topped with panko, or just simple shells n melted cheese to make it as simple or elegant as you want it.

    Cottage Pie - Effing delicious

    Something that a lot of restaurants in my area, including the one I work at, do in the slower months is, introduce weekly special(s). If it's easy to get fish, then on day x do a fish special, and then on day y do a meat special. Specials are a great way to introduce items that you normally wouldn't put on your menu and see how they are received.

    Edit, as far as the hot sandwiches go, You can make almost any favorite into an open face, cover with gravy or a sauce and serve it hot, honestly the ideas are limitless there. Good luck man, hope you do well. Personally I'd love for you post back with what your final winter menu is, I'd love to check it out.
     
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2012
  7. chefedb

    chefedb

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    Anything in the Fanny Farmer cookbook
     
  8. sig85

    sig85

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    Thanks for all the suggestions. I was looking for things that I could cook myself and have the other cooks just plate. Until I could train them the same. I had a good amount of your suggestions in mind. Like chicken pot pie and cottage pie, where the cooks could just scoop the food into a bowl, top and throw in the oven. Does anyone have experience holding fried chicken in a sham? I thought it'd be nice on the menu but our customers are used to getting there food in less than 10 minutes? Also thinking of doing a veggie scampi for a vegetarian option but didn't trust anyone doing it to order. I was thinking of doing a premade sauce. Most other restaurants in town are Italian or diners. Most of the diners have a similar comfort food items, but with everything coming in premade. I just wanted to do fresh food with a twist to kind of set us apart.
     
  9. r6zack

    r6zack

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    We do our fried chicken to order, toss it in a batter then into the deep fryer, when it comes out it gets tossed in bbq sauce (optional of course) it is an under 10 minute item, depending on volume of course. If you have 80 open menus and 40 people order fried chicken, that 10 minute statement goes out the window.
     
  10. iworktomuch

    iworktomuch

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    pulled pork sandwiches 

    short rib sliders

    stuffed chicken

    stuffed pork loin

    mac n cheese

    soups 

    stews
     
  11. kippers

    kippers

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    Bangers and mash with onion gravy, Jam Roly Poly, Snake and Pigmy Pudding,Spotted Dick,Toad in the Hole with onion gravy, Welsh Rarebit, Queen of Puds, Treacle tart with cornflake and custard. Cauliflower Cheese, Cornish Pasties with baked beans.
     
  12. flipflopgirl

    flipflopgirl

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    Playing devil's advocate here...

    In my limited experience, trying to serve a menu heavy on comfort/soul dishes is a bit dicey.

    The love for these dishes lie in the subconscious of adults trying to relive or capture a certain feeling from their unique childhood experiences.

    IMO each dish should have a spin on it so your diners aren't grumbling "this is not how my mom made it" or whatever, (unless maybe their mom's cook like my DD, in which case they are all over it, ;-)

    Just a small distraction...like you are re-creating the whole comfort thing (which you are).

    Like bacon crispies to garnish the mac n chz (or whatever, you get my drift...)

    Except, for some reason chicken soup.

    When I have a head cold and my pantry is low and no one will come 'round to see me and provide some take out, even Campbell's will do in a pinch.

    Hmmm?

    * Just a thought... please, please no more chicken ceasar salads.....
     
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2012
  13. r6zack

    r6zack

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     Just a thought... please, please no more chicken ceasar salads....

    Amen.
     
  14. kingfarvito

    kingfarvito

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    When I think of comfort foods I think of the following

    Roast poultry w/ mash

    Pot roast w/ roasted veg

    Mac and cheese w/ garlic bread

    Open faced hot turkey w/ mash

    Ham w/ yams

    Roasted beet soup

    Winter squash soup

    Your issue however doesn't seem to be your menu ideas. You don't even have one cook you can trust to rock out a veg scampi or do fried chicken to order. You need cooks with a skill set, or you need cooks that want to learn. Seems like more and more people are looking at this as general labor and not a trade/craft its sad really.
     
     
  15. sig85

    sig85

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    Yes, it is very sad. We have one cook who I can trust to cook pasta. That's it. If it were my place, I'd prob let everyone go.
     
  16. r6zack

    r6zack

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    All that is fine, in the right place/style/type of restaurant.

    In our restaurant if we tried to server our customers a thin crust pizza and call it comfort food, they would flip our tables over in fits of rage.Same with hamburgers. While I agree with you about these items being great sellers, I would disagree that either of them would be considered comfort food, but again, there are tons of variables regarding comfort food. To me (and the majority of people in my area) comfort food is my Mom's old school fried chicken with skin on mashed potatoes and cornbread with a touch of sugar with a big glass of sweetened sun tea. To someone from another area, that may years away from what they consider comfort food.

    I guess I'm just saying that because someone sells good, doesn't mean it should be on every menu, especially specialized menus.
     
  17. rekonball

    rekonball

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    All those trained monkeys find better work at NASA.
     
  18. evmcgee

    evmcgee

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    Chicken Noodle Soup with Grilled Cheese Sandwiches, hot baked apples with cinnamon sauce

    Pinto Beans cooked with ham bone, bites of ham, cornbread AND/OR homemade white bread and butter,

    Fresh hot Biscuits and sausage gravy served with finely chopped egg garnish

    Boiled chicken and quartered potatoes, chopped onion, corn: the amount of broth makes it a plate or soup bowl.

    Rice and bite size (beef, pork, chicken, fish) with Chinese vegetables.

    Macaroni and Cheese served with beef links
     
  19. evmcgee

    evmcgee

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    It occurs to me that you could start with a basic seven comfort meals (one per day) -- menu would read "Comfort meal of the day" and your wait team would have to tell the diners. Request suggestions from your diners. Something like a suggestion box, but labeled "My favorite comfort food" ... then actually serve those items. It seems as though people would visit your establishment with a wider smile if they knew you were actually interested in making them happy. Plus, you might find diners coming out of curiosity. It could get popular enough to necessitate two per day, might spill over into the summer when your 'regular' are transient.
     
  20. flipflopgirl

    flipflopgirl

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    mcgee...

    In my world grilled cheese is ALWAYS served with  (canned) tomato soup.

    Always.

    An exception can be made if the cheese is not sliced American (on white bread) then you are allowed to serve a twisted type tomato with cream and herbs (see the La Madeline menu).

    Also, whenever white bread is served it is soft, soft, soft Wonder Bread.

    See what I mean about trying to recreate comfort food for the masses?

    ;-)

    mimi

    * I do, however, like your dish of the day suggestion.

    Carry on......