Offering small plates and side orders is a sure-fire way to increase the average spends of consumers. Smaller offerings are easy to implement on menus if you are keeping dishes seasonal and they are great for making the most of readily available ingredients says Head Development Chef at Creed Foodservice, Rob Owen.
COMPILING A SMALL PLATES MENU TO COMPLEMENT A MAIN MENU OFFERING
Miniaturising main course options allows consumers the option to trial smaller versions of main courses, in turn facilitating their decision to choose a main, or carry on ordering from the variety of smaller options. Small dishes also suit grazing menus that offer people the option to eat all day.
THE BEST TYPES OF FOOD TO OFFER AS SIDE ORDERS
Items already included on the menu as part of dishes will always do well as side orders – extra portions of potatoes in all guises e.g. pan-fried rosemary potatoes, champ mash, skinny fries, sweet potato fries and triple cooked chips are a good choice as well as seasonal vegetables, garlic and other breads and breaded items such as jalapenos and mozzarella.
Particular trends to be aware of are the potential to upsell when a seasoning is offered. Seasoning such as piri piri salt and cajun spice etc can add 50-75p to the price of a side dish, but only cost the operator a few pence.
Meats such as chorizo, Parma ham and burnt ends are very on trend – burnt ends are the flavourful cuts of meat from a smoked brisket and are considered a delicacy in barbecue cooking.
Serving dishes such as charred cauliflower and broccoli with sesame seeds are very popular with consumers, as are adding extra ingredients to most vegetables and enhancing dishes with truffle oil, mushroom oil and chicken salt.
MAKING THE SHIFT TOWARDS A SMALL PLATE OFFERING
Start by offering dishes and items on your current menu in smaller portions. In time it will be clear what is a crowd pleaser and what adjustments need to be made to offerings and timings going forward.
It’s important to educate serving staff on techniques, ingredients and the benefits of smaller plates. Emphasise the consumers’ attitude towards the dishes and benefits i.e. they will avoid food envy and have lots to try on the menu. Providing staff with the right training will enable confident up selling and dish recommendation in terms of what will go well together.
OFFERING CUSTOMERS MENU DEALS ON SMALL PLATE MENUS AND SIDE ORDERS
Offers such as 3 or 4 dishes for a fixed, discounted amount will go down well with consumers dining in groups. Include suggestions such as what dishes pair well together and how many plates would be required for different sized parties. E.g. for four people we suggest you order six small plates.
These recipes are great small dish options: