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Monday, 2 June 2014

A Campaign for Short Menus?

Recently, I was shopping in town on a Sunday. I was hungry and noticed an Indian restaurant with a Sunday lunch cheap Menu. I went in and was given the very short menu - three starters, three main courses, three desserts. I made my choice and the food proved to be delicious - fresh-tasting and full of flavours.

I was pleased to have found this place and soon after went again, on a weekday evening. This time I was given a Menu with 1001 choices. All at once my anticipation turned into disappointment. I know these menus and I hate them. Instead of choosing what you think you will enjoy, you try to work out which dishes are popular enough to have been served sometime in the last week. In fact, I asked the waiter just that, Tell me what is Popular! - but he was unhelpful: They are all popular, he said.

Or equally unpopular. I sighed. I made my choice and I got it wrong: I had picked a Dodgy Indian, a dish which probably no one else had chosen in the past three months. And as I soon discovered, very much past its Use By date.

Why do Indian (and Chinese) restaurants persist with these Menus which offer such vast numbers of small variants on a few basic dishes? It is almost inevitable that some ingredients will be so infrequently used that they are poisonous by the time someone asks for them.

Why is there no learning curve, no Ah Ha! experience, which points Indian and Chinese restauranteurs away from these elongated Menus? ( There are exceptions: Indian Summer, a very good restaurant in central Brighton has a splendid short Menu and the food is always served as if cooked just for you)

I think the only solution is for someone to start a Campaign for Short Menus, chivvying and badgering eating houses to cut the length of their Menus and awarding Gold Stars to those which do. Maybe someone just has to start a website.

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