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Designing a GastroPub Menu


howsmatt
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I recently acquired my first job as a head chef. All is well and I'm as stressed as the title suggests. I would like some of your collective brilliant thoughts about my soon to be new menu. The place I work it is called Taverne Crescent and it is basically an upscale taverne. Their previous menu was a slightly nicer pub menu. I would like to modernize and improve things without scaring the classic pub crowd who fill the space on hockey and other nights. I would like to keep the menu short so that I can do specials with whatever is in season. Also I need to keep prices reasonable.

I'm pretty sure I have to do a burger. So I'm thiking: burger, cheeseburger, ridiculous burger, chicken burger and maybe a veggie burger made with black beans.

Pasta-money maker, easy option for vegetarians. 2-3 kinds plus I can always do a special.

Fish n'chips-I use an altered Blumenthal recipe with pea mash--quite good.

Grilled pizza? It's pretty good and cheap to make. Not sure though.

Chicken pot pie--it's a bit deconstructed. Celeryroot hash with sauce blanche, grilled chicken breast, piece of puff and pea mash. I'm happy with it.

Steak--I need to make it affordable, right now I'm using a bavette and so far only 1 person asked for Medium well, but this could be a problem. With mash, veg and madagascar sauce.

They have a braised beef on the menu. It sells and people like it. I'm not all that jazzed but it is cheap and meat.

Salmon with cous cous and veg or perhaps beside a nice salad with orange.

Apps:

Wings-boneless thighs, carrot panna cotta, celeryroot and jicama sticks, dip

Regular wings--they don't want just boneless. we also have an asian sauce.

2-3 salads, maybe I can put on one cool one.

calamari

etc.

Anyway the point is:

what simple, tasty inexpensive things would you put on an upscale tavern's menu?

How many apps-mains and desserts should we have? The owners always think more is better and I think the opposite (although I still end up giving lots of suggestions that they end up wanting on the menu.)

Thanks.

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Did I miss it, or did you not mention any salads (for mains) whatsoever? Salad is a *very* high profit margin item that usually doesn't tax the kitchen that much at all. It's practically a no-brainer to have some kind of grilled chicken Asian salad, and perhaps a Mexican salad of some sort, in keeping with your tavern crowd. Keep in mind that a good salad can, indeed, go a long way.

I'm a bit hesitant to agree with your idea of a black bean burger. Turkey? Yes, perhaps, but satisfying the vegan/vegetarian crowd at a tavern isn't the biggest priority in the world. Of course, I say this *after* I've told you to include salads as mains, but I've at least encouraged proteins in those.

If you can do them well, pot stickers can be a wonderful appetizer that people can share, wings-style, that also don't tax the kitchen that much. Those Asian dressings/sauces can pull some double-duty, here.

One last suggestion: I don't see any pork on your menu, and a good BBQ pulled pork sandwich is always welcome on such a menu, and a BLT, of course.

Hope at least some of this helps a bit.

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I do have salads, I was just worried that making my post too long would discourage responses. I want to do a grilled romaine with mediterranean dressing. Not sure if the bosses will go for it. The menu currently has a tomato-feta, caesar and another dumb salad that I will scratch. There is also carpaccio topped with arugula and beef tartar is also on the lighter side. Although it is a "tavern" we have LOTS of female customers because the place is quite nice. At one point they actually had more women than men walking in.

Pot stickers might be a good idea. I'm really tired of how much they use the fryer-hence some grilled boneless wings and more mashed potatoes and purees. Plus I could stick anything I have in the pot.

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Bear in mind I am on a different continent but sharing platters seem pretty popular over here, middle eastern with hoummous, good flat bread, olives, baba ganoush etc, seafood ones, you name it really.

I am still trying to drag my customers, kicking and screaming, away from Sticky Toffee Puds and the like. Try to keep the deserts down to 3 or 4 so I can make the most of seasonal produce. Differently spiced rice puddings seem very popular right now, like Cardamon and rosewater served with rose petal shortbread. As I said I am in a different country so none of this may apply but all the best of luck anyway. What fun.

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We always love to go for crostini platters. You can get just one 'flavor' or a whole variety - plus high margin.

One of the places here in B'Lore does a great thing with it: Just serve the bread with some peeled garlic cloves, basil leaves, cherry tomatoes. The customer rubs the garlic on the bread, then the basil leaf, then salt/pepper/olive oil, then the tomato half, and it's done. It's got that 'hip' vibe of doing it yourself, with the added benny of no overhead for kitchen staff.

Plus the usual suspects for crostini toppings: Mushrooms, diced tomato, etc.

My .02,

PastaMeshugana

"The roar of the greasepaint, the smell of the crowd."

"What's hunger got to do with anything?" - My Father

My eG Food Blog (2011)

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Maybe a roasted seasonal veggie plate for a side? I dearly love the roasted cauliflower that has been raved over in other threads here, roasted garlic is ALWAYS good, cherry tomatoes, squash later in the season, etc.

HTH!

Edited by judiu (log)

"Commit random acts of senseless kindness"

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Bear in mind I am on a different continent but sharing platters seem pretty popular over here, middle eastern with hoummous, good flat bread, olives, baba ganoush etc, seafood ones, you name it really.

I am still trying to drag my customers, kicking and screaming, away from Sticky Toffee Puds and the like. Try to keep the deserts down to 3 or 4 so I can make the most of seasonal produce. Differently spiced rice puddings seem very popular right now, like Cardamon and rosewater served with rose petal shortbread. As I said I am in a different country so none of this may apply but all the best of luck anyway. What fun.

Gotta agree with the Middle Eastern app suggestion here, too. Some good flat bread (uber-important), hoummous, garlic sauce, etc. is a great do-it-yourself app that people love to share, and then pseudo-fight over their favorite stuff! It's popping up in these parts (of course, Detroit is a very populous ME area), but it works well on a couple of different levels.

Oh! And speaking of Middle Eastern, if you're able to pull together a better-than-average chicken shawarma sandwich (pretty basic, using marinaded/spiced thigh meat, garlic sauce, onion, tomato, and pickle slices wrapped together in pita-esque bread), you can please many people, again pulling double-duty with the garlic sauce. Here's the rub, though: it's *all* about the garlic sauce in this bad boy, so if yours isn't up to snuff, the sandwich, and possibly the app, won't fly. But when the garlic sauce is on, the whole thing covers a multitude of sins, so to speak. Make some extra scratch by offering a fattoush salad as a side *and* a main!

All of the above appeals to the ladies, indeed.

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I've been debating a dip/crostini app. Hummus is no problem. I also do a good foie gras brulee. I'm still debating on the 3rd--tomato based would probably work, although I will already be making a pea/mint mash. I might grill pizza dough for the bread. Good baba ganoush is a bit labour intensive with properly roasted eggplants and the yield is not great.

Montreal has TONS of middle eastern places so I am hesitant to put a classic shawarma. Although when I marinate chicken in cream (or yogurt), garlic and few herbs people usually love it.

3-5 desserts is likely, we haven't sold many in my 2 weeks so I think it will take time to encourage.

Thanks, my ears are still open.

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Last few gigs were basically the same idea, even a few overlaps with dishes

Grilled pizza: Always been a big hit. Always went with a daily or just 'chefs choice' to keep things interesting, and easy for the kitchen.

Salmon. Did a salmon dish with the isreali cous cous. I like that stuff a lot more than regular stuff, and imo looks a little nicer? A green tea rub always has been a hit for me with seared salmon.

Burgers: Do whatever. One time for a chicken burger I did a modified japanese chicken dumpling recipe for the burger, did a yakitori style sauce, pickled daikon, and it sold pretty well. As long as you have a 'normal' burger on there and some sort of alternative, like a veg burger or chicken, all sells pretty well.

Right now we have a pulled pork bbq sandwich, and on the lunch menu it sells like wildfire. Everyone loves pork?

What about an 'upscale' meatloaf? I've noticed, in places like that, like with the chicken pot pie, the comfort food done well works great. Good quality pork and veal, little personal sized loaves, and you have a pretty sell-able entree.

I'm not much of a dessert person. Normally I never do more than 4-5 items at best. Creme brulee I would have around, easy to switch up, easy to do. Small cheesecakes are always a plus, little personal sized ones are great. Last fall did a cinnamon/pumpkin cheesecake with maple creme anglaise and it killed.

Cheese - milk's leap toward immortality.

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Although when I marinate chicken in cream (or yogurt), garlic and few herbs people usually love it.

Thanks, my ears are still open.

Hmm. That actually sounds more like a Turkish doner to me, or something in that realm. Are there a lot of local places in Montreal to get those? The yogurt is especially what sets it up more like a doner. I personally haven't had one since I was visiting Germany a couple of years ago, and I really liked them! Your take on the dish certainly sounds like a winner to me, sandwich-wise.

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Montreal... will French stuff not work in your place ? A good pate maison / terrine will always appeal as something that shows some effort, and it pushes work out of service hours.

You could ride the Julie & Julia craze with coq au vin, for a season at least: ditto on the same two counts.

QUIET!  People are trying to pontificate.

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I like israeli cous cous or quinoa too. Cost is always a concern, my dishes need to come in mostly under $20. Little cheesecakes are something I thought and then forgot about, thanks.

I enjoy pork for many reasons but wonder if it will sell.

Thanks.

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  • 1 month later...

I don't know what country you are in, but here the gastropub Sunday roast is very popular. Roast beef or chicken, roast potatoes, yorkshire pudding, gravy, peas, carrots, etc. If you can update it, the comfort factor is huge and people love it.

I agree with the mezze plate idea.

What about individual pies of some kind (savoury ones) - maybe meat or veggie?

Big bowls of shoestring or skinny fries? With different dipping sauces, or sprinkled with dried rosemary and feta?

And what about moules mariniere with some amazing bread?

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I'm in Montreal. Just did mussels this week, went over pretty well. The pork has become a favourite of all who have tried it. Made risotto with chanterelles and NY strip, waitresses can't sell it even at $24. Guess I have to stick with food that seems fast to the clients or can be eaten at the bar.

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