The Appetizer to the Appetizer
In the first few instants two people meet, first impressions are made. The same happens when customers walk into a restaurant. Aside from the outside of the business and the interior furniture and atmosphere, the first way a customer will judge the business is based on the amuse bouche. Going back to classic French cuisine, meals always included an amuse bouche, a mini, refreshing, opening course meant to increase appetites before the meal. The practice of offering refreshments before appetizers is still common today, though it is seen in most businesses as the restaurant bread basket. In ethnic restaurants, the dish might be slightly different. For example, most Mexican restaurants offer tortilla chips and salsa to customers as they sit down. When considering what to offer customers, restaurants should consider going beyond the typical bread and butter to make their venue stand out. On the other hand, the dish should not be a replacement for the appetizer and should not resemble items on the appetizer menu, or customers will be dissuaded from ordering from it. By carefully selecting the opener dish, restaurants can ensure their customers receive the best possible first impression.
Canapés, amuse bouche, appetizers, bread…: What Are the Differences?
Canapés, amuse bouche, bread, and ethnic dishes are the most common meal openers found in restaurants. Canapés and amuse bouche are usually more gourmet than the other options. They resemble a small course in a tasting menu, which showcases the chef’s talent and sets a precedent for the rest of the meal that will follow. Having these gourmet meal openers, which are complimentary for the customer, can get expensive, but by using “extra” parts of high quality ingredients, a restaurant can reduce food waste and give the customers a great first impression of the restaurant. Ends of salmon or sirloin that will not fit into the main course weight desired are just two of the many examples of raw ingredients that can be used to create a beautiful and delicious “welcoming” dish. Even the typical bread basket can be spice up with homemade bread, garlic bread, homemade spreads, and homemade jams that will leave customers begging for the restaurant recipe.
Tricks of the Trade
Creativity is key when selecting an opening dish to make a restaurant stand out. However, there are other guidelines that can help the business increase its profits from the average customer. Firstly, the dish should be relatively small, so that the customer will still be inclined to order a full meal. If a bread basket is placed on the table at the beginning of the meal, do not replenish it unless the service is expected to be unusually slow. With time, a business can learn to balance the amount of bread to supply with the number of customers at the table. Amuse bouche and canapés should be sized appropriately as well. Salty foods such as tortilla chips and salsa and garlic bread with homemade spreads will make customers thirsty, which may lead them to order drinks. Taking such factors into consideration can help the restaurant make a great first impression while improving its business.