New place starting menu advice

Discussion in 'Professional Chefs' started by stachelrodt, Feb 16, 2017.

  1. stachelrodt

    stachelrodt

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    I recently acquired a new position leading the kitchen in a local place. It is super new, new equipment, and the owners are pretty great. They will purchase most of the items I deem necessary. So no problems there

    I am here because I kind of need some validation, my plan thus far is to open a simple menu. Offering brunch on sunday, lunch wensday-saturday, and dinner services wensday-sunday. So the easy stuff out of the way.

    This leaves me to design 3, possibly 4 menus, considering that it is an inn. Overnight stays have room service while the restaurant is closed. 

    The specific details of the menu are irrelevant honestly my cooking isn't my concern. I want to start it was approx 3 salad options, 4 appetizer options, 3 shared table plates, 5 entrees and 4 desserts. This will leave me with 19 possibly 20 items on a dinner menu.

    Is this too small? We plan to seat about 30-40 with the busiest days covering 80. We have done small openings with a check average of 150 per person. I personally am always a fan of smaller menu styles. They seem to both keep food quality up and food costing down.

    any and all feedback is appreciated

    S
     
  2. pete

    pete Moderator Staff Member

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    In general, I don't have a problem with small menus and 5-6 entrée options I am usually fine with, but you are an Inn so my question is what is the average length of stay of your guests?  If you are only offering 5 entrees and 2 of those contain pork and I have a religious objection to pork, or 2 of them are seafood and I am allergic to seafood now I only have 3 options to choose from.  I am a guest staying at your Inn for 4 nights.  That menu could get old with only 3 options to choose from unless the menu changes nightly or you are located in an area where I can go out and eat at other places.
     
  3. stachelrodt

    stachelrodt

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    So far the inn seems to be single night, possibly two to three day stays. The owners currently have a menu but it has a severe identity crisis, it contains approx 60 items and in a 30 seater it seems a bit much. I certainly am going to develop the menu after a few weeks(2-3), I am looking to get the basics down for the kitchen before we make any larger changes,  get stocks, soups and inventories up to par as they are currently doing soft openings using mostly frozen items. As well as integrate bread programs etc..

    brunch and lunch menus will change weekly, and dinner menus will probably change once a month. I have the great fortune of being located in a black dirt region of america where agriculture is very strong so inspiration is not short changed.

    Thanks for taking the time to talk with me, I feel like even just sitting here reading this single response and mulling over it my self that I have a better idea of what we need to accomplish in the coming weeks, any and all further advice is appreciated
     
  4. cheflayne

    cheflayne

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    5 entrees seems a tad small to me, depending upon what the shared plates are, perhaps kick the number up a bit to 6 or 7.
     
  5. pete

    pete Moderator Staff Member

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    In a stand alone restaurant, where the menu changed every night I think you could get away with 5 entrees, along with the shared plates, but again, for an Inn where you have the potential of guests staying for 3-5 nights, or longer, I think you need a minimum of 8-12 entrees, but I think you could keep it pared down to that.
     
  6. chefbuba

    chefbuba

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    What's the demographics of your guests ? $150 check average is a bit steep for me.
    As a couple i would not be spending $300++ for dinner multiple nights.
     
  7. chefwriter

    chefwriter

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    I'll throw in a voice of support for the menu in the original post. I've been hoping some one somewhere would do exactly that.  

    I suppose Pete has a point about choices for guests with a multiple night stay and food issues but I'm not one of those people. When traveling, I will most certainly be having dinner in more than one place and I have no allergies or other dietary restrictions. 

         In a smaller establishment, too many choices makes me uncertain about the quality and maintenance of standards for every single item. I would rather have five choices I can be confident are fresh and thoughtfully prepared than twelve to twenty five choices of stuff just to expand the offerings. In the algorithm of cooking professionally, something has to give the more choices there are. The more the choices, the more has to give way. 

         Given the agricultural nature of the area, if visiting your inn  I'd rather have whatever is local and seasonal and very fresh than a choice of three or fifteen things that had to be brought in.  Knowing the menu is local, fresh and the kitchen staff has time to devote to proper preparation for each dish really makes my dinner decision easier. Beef or chicken, pork or seafood. And if the food is everything I'm hoping it to be, I might even forego visiting a different local eatery just to try something else on the menu. 

         I will also take this opportunity to throw in that I'd like to see the menu stay local too. By that I mean that I realize the coffee comes from somewhere else but if the menu says the pork came from the farm down the street, I'm hoping the fruit sauce it's served with is also made with local  harvest, served with local mashed potatoes and fresh local vegetables. A simpler dish with fresh local ingredients in the local style is more impressive for me than a local chicken gussied up with "international" flavor and accompaniments that had to have to come from somewhere else. 

       I'll finish with echoing Chefbubas' concern. $150 per person is what is more likely to persuade me to eat elsewhere the second night. I'd hope that keeping a simpler menu with less inventory and accompanying costs would result in better affordability. 
     
  8. frankie007

    frankie007

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    If you can serve salads as main course size dishes as well that would increase your offering....I think your original idea is fine to start with then you can tweek it to suit the place better as you don't really know it yet.. 
     
  9. stachelrodt

    stachelrodt

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    super insightful everyone really appreciate the attack from all angles, really helping me figure this out, I think I will expand the menu a bit, to allow for more room for initial discovery. I have been cooking in this area for over ten years, and the dishes them self arent the problem, i just simply dont want to have to tame a wild beast when i could have grown it from a pup

    I am new to this site, and I can already say it has a fantastic community, thanks everyone again, and once everything is fully under way I will certainly disclose menus and pictures with details about my new gig!
     
  10. cronker

    cronker

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    Why not stick to your original idea, but add a daily special main course. Easy to move produce as you need, and gives everyone a creative outlet aside the main menu as well as a further option for long stays.