1 Pedantry first! Dud characters. Never use the ‘&’ character, except it titles,
e.g. Dombie & Son. I know it’s a fun shape, but do you see it in books and newspaper
text? Use ‘and’ (or ‘+’ is useful). And, do we need the ‘£’ sign? Gets in the way.
If you’re at all posh, 10.00 looks so much cooler than £9.95
2 Use the words ‘fresh’ and ‘homemade’ judiciously. Only to distinguish from something
usually dried, frozen, bought-in, e.g. Fresh borlotti beans, homemade ice-creams.
Otherwise, ‘fresh’/‘homemade’ says everything else isn’t!
3 Rule of three. You’re in the business and can scan a menu in 15 secs., but the
poor punter has a lot to reckon with, especially if he gets recited at with ‘dishes
of the day’ too. So give him just three things to remember. What is it - Angus rump
steak? How is it cooked - grilled? What’s with it - salsa, chips?
4 Negative rule of three. Even if you’ve put tomatoes in everything, ‘cos you bought
a shed load cheap, two mentions max., or the diners will guess. And don’t overdo
words like ‘confit’ on menus; and ‘citrus’ on wine list descriptions. Lots, and it
does look formulaic.
5 Avoid gushy text. ‘Lovely aroma, gorgeous explosion of lime-blossom flavour’. Too
much self-praise is negative. The customer is the judge. Be enthusiastic, but stick
6 Menu Over-Capitalisation. ‘Improper Capitals Make for Less Legibility, & a Self-Important
Look’. Capitalise proper names only (plus cheeses... and grape varieties? Only if
you must!). Read this article!
7 Modern wine list rules. Think how your diners think. Blame Oz, but generally it’s
by style and grape. The following sections work well...White - dry, smooth, full
(+ aromatic?); reds - fruity, smooth, full. You have to have good reason for more
than 80 - 100 wines. Organise by country and you might have some lean zones, so style
is better. Use consistent name style, e.g. name, year, grower (in brackets). Give
each wine a short description (supermarkets do): origin, grape, taste (see note 4,
and I like it light, e.g. Trentino Terodolgo - Beaujolais with attitude).
8 Check your spelling esp. foreign; check my spelling; get your wife/partner to check
both - I do. My menu maxim: can’t spell, can’t cook.
9 Foreign words only as needed, with correct accents. In wine lists, of course, but
in menus too; please only where English can’t cope. And you must get the accents
right! OK, who will notice? But clever dicks (moi?) and guide inspectors will. BTW,
most abused term: crème brûlée. See right for info on accents.
10 And have a consistent style and know it. You have a restaurant to show your personality
- can’t be the hours or the money! Do it - make a statement. Be different from the