• Joshua Clifton

The Death of Menus

Before I explain my theory, I need to reiterate that I’m basing this on my own experiences from visiting hundreds of cafes, bars and restaurants. No survey was conducted; I merely want to start a discussion about the potential ‘threat’ to menus when we dine out.

I’m anaphylactic to a number of foods (mostly nuts) so eating out is a nightmare. Don’t worry, I swear I’m a good customer about it. I don’t go to places where there is a high chance of nuts on the menu, as I don’t want to put that pressure on the venue and myself. For now, I just enjoy window shopping these venues.

So where am I going with this you ask. Is the rise of customers changing items on menus? If you are currently operating in the industry and have been for the past five to 10 years, you may have seen a number of customers changing the menu items to suit their individual needs. Can I swap this item; do you have this option; I can’t eat this etc.

Menu deconstruction has been happening in this industry, but I can’t help but notice the steep slope we have hit in recent years. Australians’ love food - we have adopted food into a lot of our viewing pleasures at nights and I believe we have also fallen in love with food trends in general around dieting and healthy eating.

But why is this happening now more than ever? Increases in food allergies and intolerances, celebrity chefs, health trends and personal choices are all playing a part. But what does this mean for menus? Are we just turning into a ‘make your own’ style dining experience? Are we potentially watering down the creative expression of our chefs or is this just a passing trend?

I still believe the majority of people dine out for something different or something new, but I can’t help but see this trend of minor changes to menu items becoming the norm. I believe that despite our best efforts to create unique dining experiences, this will become a standard practice from customers.

What do you think?

Do we keep it simple and allow chefs to study their craft and deliver incredibly detailed food, or do we offer a canvas of items to please everyone.

I understand that venues have different target markets. Some cater to the high end, others families and some centre around speed and convenience - but do we simply have to adapt to survive or can we bring back a new method of dining where we celebrate the unique food experiences that chefs and the teams within the venue want to actually deliver?

What’s really on the menu for the future of dining?

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