It seems that wherever you choose to eat nowadays you are asked if you would like to hear the specials. Sometimes this is a great way to expand your culinary horizons; we can all get into a bit of a rut when ordering food in restaurants, and often they are also a bargain.
Sometimes you get to try some unusual meals you would not have otherwise chosen. So why do restaurants have a specials menu?
A key reason, not surprisingly, is that the restaurant will get the chef to use ingredients that are coming to the end of their shelf life. In order to move them on the chef creates a meal and the clientele are encouraged to eat it by placing it on the specials board.
According to head chefs making sure the ingredients bought for one meal are re-purposed for another is a key way of reducing waste and thereby saving the restaurant money.
Sometimes a restaurant has over-ordered a particular ingredient or the menu item they were designed for doesn’t sell. The specials menu is a way of making sure these do not go to waste.
The Special Menu Quality Can Vary
As well as preventing waste, specials can give the chef an opportunity to give full reign to their creativity in the kitchen. It is a great way to see how new dishes are received by customers, perhaps as a precursor to their inclusion in the main menu.
Customers will often give feedback which allows the restaurant owner to get an insight into what works and what doesn’t. Often this can be surprising – sometimes the owner may expect a dish to sell and it just falls flat, and vice versa, so the specials board is a good way of deciding what the customers want to see – and eat.
Being prepared to test new recipes by including them on a specials menu is a good way to move the restaurant forward, keeping the offerings fresh and exciting. It can be a way of testing out a more expensive ingredient without committing to including it on a regular basis.
Plus customers will spend more on a specials at certain times such as over the weekend.
If you’re not feeling overly adventurous or you don’t want to gamble too much stick to a special that is also on the regular menu or is a new variation on the restaurant’s specialty.