Ideas for pub menu, interesting scenerio

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Joined Sep 28, 2014
Hey chefs, back at it with another scenario I need some input on. So I currently work for a few wealthy investors who own several restaurants in the surrounding towns. I am one of their main cooks who joined them after my previous gig closed. So they purchased a pub a while back, renovated it. They asked me if I could run it and get it going. So let me describe what I'm working with because I need a menu that is profitable and doable with the following scenario.

Cliental: family's for lunch or early dinner. Then adults later on. I'd say almost an 80 percent adult to 29 percent kid ratio. Kitchen open Monday through Thursday 3 to 10 . Friday through Sunday 11 to 10. He wants brunch on sunday from 11 to 2 on top of regular menu. Just a small brunch menu.
Saturday he wants to keep this burger special from 11 to 4 that the town knows the previous pub for. So I have no say in that.

Labor: Monday through Thursday is doable for one cook or myself. Friday lunch is one cook or myself. I would have a second guy Friday night, all day saturday and all day Sunday. They have many cooks so finding someone to work those hours isn't an issue however I need a doable menu that can be excited by one cook.

Kitchen : small set up. 2 make tables. Small table in between them. 2 deck table top pizza oven that fits one 14inxh pizza on each, usually used for late night menu. 4 burner stove with oven. 2 flat top grills. One for meets and burgers and other was for bread and sandwiches, etc. 2 fryers. Walk in cooler and plenty of freezers. Really just have the line to prep on, unless they decide to remove one of the 4 reach in freezers for a prep table.

So the owner decided to put this menu together of like 40 items total. It's all frozen and fried. Absolutely nothing made on house. We have the Ruben and fish and ships. Like I said its frozen fish and corned beef is pretty sliced. They gave me the green light to present a menu so I need some ideas to build off of. Everything needs to stay under 16ish. Any ideas for fun, creative upscale Irish themed pub food that can be executed by the above scenario. Sorry this is long but tried to describe the best I could. Thanks chef. All ideas welcomed.
 
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Joined Oct 10, 2005
Look, there are two types of pub owners:

The first acknowledges that the booze makes the money, and food is only there to sell more booze.

The second wants a 40 item a'la carte menu for 200 seats in a 10' x12' kitchen. Oh, and maybe a separate menu for a 40 seat patio in the summer....

Start off with a dead simple, small, menu. Once things smooth out a little start with one, and only one feature. This is your test, if servers or owners don't want to sell it, then leave it be. If it does sell, stick with one or two feature items until mngmt wants more.

Make the food good, simple, and honest, keep the menu small.
 
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Joined Apr 11, 2018
I vote for scotch eggs.

Might consider a shepherd's pie.

I did once see a pub have a menu item called an "Irish Seven Course Dinner". It consisted of six beers and a potato. I have a pic if you think I'm making that up.

BTW, 80% + 29% = 109%...
 
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Joined May 30, 2015
Make the food good, simple, and honest, keep the menu small.

+1

Try to find things that can be made with a small amount of core ingredients. Food costs/waste are what will make or break you in an Irish pub.

Here's some of what I would serve if it were my restaurant:

Fish & chips
Bone-in wings
Reuben (option of kraut or slaw)
French dip w/ aus jus
Roast beef dinner (carrots, baby potatoes, onions and sliced roast beef lunch meat served in au jus)
Standard name-brand deli lunch meat will work well for these - no need to use a home-cooked roast/brisket
Shepherd's pie
Pot pie (same ground meat base as shepherd's in a crust) - use beer for the meat base to enhance the taste

Fried pickles in beer batter (use Guinness for this - it sells quality to the customer and a standard recipe only needs about 2 cups of beer for a 12-oz batter so the savings if you use well-lager are minimal and quality goes way down)

Onion rings in beer batter
French fries
Salad & slaw

House-made salad dressings taste better and are cheaper, so try to sell the owner on the price advantage and sell the customer on the quality. Standard flavors for salad dressings and horseradish sauce for dipping/sandwiches.

For aus jus, just boil some beef bouillon paste, kitchen bouquet sauce, water and some aromatics/herbs - very cheap and easy.

For brunch, offer a set-course full British breakfast/Ulster fry and maybe a few American brunch add-ons. Since the menu is a one-off, you can't sell the leftovers the next day or repurpose very much, so use a set-course and multiply by average/expected # of customers for a basic production planning tool.

You could also try using Yorkshire pudding instead of dinner rolls
 
27
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Joined Sep 28, 2014
Chefs,

Hey I appreciate the quick feedback. Glad to see the site is really taking off. Yes sorry about the typo, was meant to say 80/20 ratio. I'm not worried about the brunch menu as it is just special thing for Sunday. The Scotch egg will be on there, thanks for mentioning, had several people say this. I'm thinking of making a small kids menu aside from the regular menu so I can focus on the quality of the food. I will post have the sample menu later this week so any more ideas would be great. Glad you all took on account the low labor for prep and execution for service. Thanks again chefs
 
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Joined May 30, 2015
One more piece of advice based on the dozens of Irish pubs I've seen fail in my local area. This isn't to discourage you from creating awesome food, just something I've seen far too often. There's always going to be a sub-set of the population who, no matter how extensive the menu or how the FOH is laid out, will never step foot in your establishment because in their minds it's a bar. Likewise, there's going to be another sub-set of the customer base who will only go there to drink and maybe eat a few snacks. If you focus too heavily on creating an expansive, 100% from scratch menu, you're fighting an up-hill battle because the % of traditional restaurant patrons who come just to eat lunch/dinner will almost always be outnumbered by the other two populations mentioned earlier.

For the kid's menu, try to focus on just smaller versions of your regular food (2 chicken strips & fries, half-size burger, etc) to keep with the core ingredient mantra.

Good luck, dude.
 
27
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Joined Sep 28, 2014
Yes, glad you brough that up. This is a pretty active town outside of a main city. So we are not expecting a huge food rush. We are anticipating about 30 percent food sales to 70 percent booze. So your right, my objective is not here to get too crazy and make everything from scratch but we are in a foodie town you could say so I would like to make it a unique fun and creative menu with the restrictions I said earlier. Thanks so much for the good points chef.
 
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Joined Aug 15, 2003
Touché...

:lol: Just busting your chops.

Chefs,

Hey I appreciate the quick feedback. Glad to see the site is really taking off. Yes sorry about the typo, was meant to say 80/20 ratio. I'm not worried about the brunch menu as it is just special thing for Sunday. The Scotch egg will be on there, thanks for mentioning, had several people say this. I'm thinking of making a small kids menu aside from the regular menu so I can focus on the quality of the food. I will post have the sample menu later this week so any more ideas would be great. Glad you all took on account the low labor for prep and execution for service. Thanks again chefs

It's going to be an uphill battle given that you or the cook will be working the line alone. That really limits what you can do and how you can do it...

I would try your best to stay away too much from pre-made stuff. Not only is the quality usually inferior, but you will also do nothing to set yourself apart...you'll just be serving what 99% of all kitschy pubs sell.

beer cheese dip and pretzels (kinda German-ish, but who doesn't love pretzels/beer/cheese?). You can make ahead and finish bake the pretzels and heat dip to order.

Smoked mackerel cakes with gribiche sauce...could be either pan fried or deep fried.

Welsh rarebit...kind of like a cheesy sauce-y toast. When done well it is killer though

Any type of mussels in the shell...they take to beer really well (steamed open in beer and lots of butter) but more important they are inexpensive, easy to prep, and take about 2 mins in the pan.

lamb stew (again, made ahead and just heated to order)

Source a good English banger and do a take on bangers and mash.

Fish and chips are obvious as well...I would make sure you have a killer batter recipe and a good source for fish.

I forget what they are called but there is a Irish potato pancake that is really good when made right...you would be able to riff with toppings and such if you'd like.

Crispy pork belly with "colcannon"

You could have a bar snacks list too...things like a pickle plate, spiced nuts, marinated olives (OK not Irish, but delicious), etc.
 
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Joined Apr 11, 2018
No, not at all. None taken chef. I appreciate you taking the time to help me out. Thanks much

Glad to hear we're good.

But also, I'm not a chef; my industry experience was mostly management. I only clarify this because I don't want to give anybody the wrong idea.
 
27
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Joined Sep 28, 2014
Someday,

Hey thanks for that. Bangers and mash for sure for brunch. Mussels will make their way there as well, fast, simple, cheap. Good idea. Owner wants the pretzel too so I will probably serve with two dipping sauces made in house. I think I got a pretty good start. Got a solid small plate and or app list. A few sandwiches. Obviously I'll need 2 salads at least. Just really want to offer a few entree that a capable for the flat top or stove and again 1 man so needs to be ideally done under 10 minutes. Pork belly will be a good option. Definitely like the colcannon idea. Thanks everyone, making huge progress so far
 
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Joined Feb 17, 2010
+1


Here's some of what I would serve if it were my restaurant:

French dip w/ aus jus
Roast beef dinner (carrots, baby potatoes, onions and sliced roast beef lunch meat served in au jus)
Standard name-brand deli lunch meat will work well for these - no need to use a home-cooked roast/brisket


For aus jus, just boil some beef bouillon paste, kitchen bouquet sauce, water and some aromatics/herbs - very cheap and easy.

Really? You would serve this in your restaurant?
Why on earth would you try to pass off deli lunch meat as a roast beef dinner? Equally bad using that crap for a French dip. It's too easy to roast a piece of beef for this, and to make a real au jus from the trimmings and drippings.
 
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Joined Apr 29, 2011
Those Irish potato pancakes are called boxties (boxty).Usually pretty popular in an Irish pub and economical.A boxty of the day is a good way to reduce waste.
 
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Joined Jun 27, 2012
Agree with the suggested deli beef sliced to order.
Want to add that a short time on your grill cool spot to brown really adds flavor.
I fan the portion and lightly brown only one side to keep from drying it out.
This is served with a good homemade brown gravy or jus and seldom have leftovers.

mimi
 
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Joined Jun 8, 2018
A very exciting opportunity. A few thoughts and questions come to mind. You did a great job in describing the kitchen. It looks to be in good shape.

What is the composition of the front of the house?

How many tops at the bar?

What are the tops like in the restaurant?

Serving burgers on Sat is a great start. You can have a lot of fun with burgers. There is place nearby me that has 20 different styles. They are all burgers with different toppings (cheddar/blue cheese/garlic/jalapeno/bacon, etc.) Very easy to do and do a great job. This gives an anchor from the past to the future.

At the end of the day, I serve whatever the customers want to buy. Make it the best possible for their enjoyment. They will be back. Doing something intricate may be personally fulfilling but if it does not sell, it creates a bad impression to customers and investors alike.

For the menu design, work backwards. Design from what your workspace can execute well. The current kitchen has:
- 2 grills
- 2 fryers
- 2 pizza ovens
- 4 burner stove
- oven

What can you do well on the grills - fresh and quickly?
- burgers
- chicken
- lamb
- fish
- steak

What can you do well in fryers – fresh and quickly?
- Fries thin and thick
- Chicken wings / drumsticks
The following take a bit more work – think tempura style so they are light/tasty
- Fish (for fish and chips with a beer based tempura-ish batter)
- onion rings

For the pizza ovens?
- sheppards pie (prepped ahead)
- Cornish pasty (prepped ahead)
- pizza

For the stove?
- soup of the day
- heat sauces quickly for meats (lamb/chicken/beef)

The oven (easy long slow cook time)?
- Roast beef
- Braised leg of lamb

One of the keys is to not through product away. What way can it be used before it has to be discarded. For example:
- Use the left over roast beef for thin sliced beef dip / philly cheesesteak sandwiches. A great way to minimize waste.
- Use steak/beef that is getting older for custom grind burgers. Use older lamb for sheppards pie/Cornish pasty (same filling – different presentation).

The trend in the restaurants is moving to fresh and local. Even in the casual dining space. I am with you on frozen food. I would emphasize, to the best extent possible, fresh and local. Serve items that are made in house.

Don’t get caught up in chasing gross margin. Gross profit is very important. Selling one $24 steak (if it can be well executed) that costs $12 yields $12 profit. You have to sell a lot more basket of fries for the same profit.

Not sure where in the country you are. Not sure of what quality product you can get and what is the product like during the winter.

With all that said, do a few things can you execute very well. Start small and grow. A stab at it:
- grilled burgers / grilled chicken sandwiches
- various easy to add toppings (cheese/garlic/spicy sauce/bacon/bbq sauce)
- british sausages (bangers) ONLY if you can find good product

- fish and chips
- onion rings (only if easy)
- French fries

- fresh mixed green salad
- fresh Caesar salad
- add chicken/bacon to the above

- sheppards pie (using aged lamb/beef from below)
- beef/lamb stew (using aged items)

- high end items that can be presupposed as needed
- steak
- prime rib
- lamb

- pizza (a bit of distraction for a pub – but it is high margin – you have ovens)
- toppings that can be used for/put on top of salad (bell peppers/red onions/cheese/garlic/mushrooms/olives/green onions/cilantro)
- mozzarella that can be used for caprese salad as tomatoes are in season
- simple red sauce – can of whole San Marzano tomatoes – then crushed – perfect – no need to cook it – lasts a long time
- add oregano / spice to top as needed
- pepperoni / Italian sausage (things that last a long time)

Probably left out some stuff, but I hope what is here helps.
 
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