Selling Lessons from a Menu


This weekend I took a trip to San Francisco to see my family. As expected, we ate out several times. My Step Mother and I noticed something interesting about the menus. Some restaurants did a much better job of creating the taste of the dish through the description.

For example, she ordered “warm cracked wheat oatmeal topped with fresh strawberries”. Sounds better than “wheat oatmeal”, doesn’t it? I’m not even sure that there’s such a thing as uncracked wheat, but by adding it to the description, it made it sound better than plain “wheat oatmeal”.

Sunday, I at John’s Beach Restaurant along Ocean Beach. On the menu they had “Eggs Benedict”. That’s all it said. I know what Eggs Benedict is, but that higher priced menu item might have sounded better if it said “Two perfectly poached eggs and Canadian bacon on an English muffin topped with our famous homemade Hollandaise sauce.” If I were considering scrambled eggs and bacon, they may have upsold me with the descriptive description.

Here are examples of tasty descriptions on Italian menus:

  • Succulent tender white shrimp tossed in our delicate, light garlic cream and basil sauce. Served with fresh herbed flatbread points.
  • Our famous jumbo bowl of tender Maines teamed mussels in a garlic butter broth. Served with a hunk of our great bread.
  • Garlic rubbed grilled Tuscan bread topped with plum tomatoes, red onions, basil and fresh Mozzarella balls.
  • Crisp romaine lettuce tossed with our house made Caesar salad dressing and freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Served with a wedge of lemon and coarse ground black pepper.

Vs. examples of factual descriptions…

  • Assortment of grilled vegetables, fresh mozzarella, marinated olives, marinated mushroom, tomato, Prosciutto di Parma, sopressata and capicolla.
  • Mozarella, fontina, provolone andgorgonzola with sun dried tomatoes.
  • Italian sausage, tomato, green peas, cream, rosemary, red pepper flakes and pecorino cheese.
  • Sautéed breast of chicken, porcini mushrooms, pancetta, onions and marsala wine, served withcheese mezzaluna.

What’s the difference between a tasty description and a factual description? Adjectives. Adjectives make nouns mouth watering. How do you describe your products?

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