“Oh, you have to try the charcuterie board,” said one of your lovely customers on their way out. Or, “Oh, my gosh, look what they are having! We should order that,” said one of your customers sneaking a peek at a table six feet away.
Words like this are a restaurant’s dream. Any time your dish is a customer brag-fest, they make the sale for you. In these changing and difficult times of the pandemic, customer word-of-mouth is a trusted marketing channel. What’s better than that? And who wouldn’t want to enjoy the beauty and yumminess of that charcuterie board?
Though pandemic concerns linger, restaurants can proactively expand that word-of-mouth channel, energize menus, and enhance customer tabs. How? Shareables. Your appetizer menu is a breeding ground for creative ideas that fly off the inventory shelves as perfect tack-ons to the meal. With a finger on the pulse, let’s look at several mouth-watering finger food options that your wait staff can push with ease and confidence.
If you want to hear collective groans of culinary delight, try offering up something like tuna with wasabi-infused ricotta, served on crostinis. Ricotta adds much-needed fat to the healthy and versatile tuna. Wasabi adds that blast of flavor atop an easy (and safe!) share of individual crostini pieces. Or consider jarred pork or salmon rillettes served with slices of toasted French bread. Pork and salmon are both excellent options, so chose based on your concept and seafood availability. Serve in recycled or specialty jars for added effect as a “potted” dish, and this provides a low-cost, minimal waste option.
You can also add some Mediterranean flare with hummus. Serve the hummus with as many spoons as guests, as well as their own relish plate. We all know the Mediterranean diet is in! Healthy, easy, and straight-forward — master a whipped hummus taste that fits your style or concept.
A must try for any Latin or Southwest concept are nachos. For the eye-pop factor, stuff a large tin can with your favorite nacho ingredients upside down — try grilled seasoned skirt steak, mountains of Monterey Jack cheese, jalapenos, tomatoes, cilantro, onion — layered neatly. When served, turn the can upside down and slide it off to reveal a tower of yummy nacho goodness. This has the potential to be a highly profitable and head-turning option.
You could even flex some seafood prowess with mussels. This yummy, versatile, and over-looked mollusk needs to make a comeback with its 100% yield and usability. Pick a sauce that fits your concept, flavors, and menu, while accounting for season. For example, serve with a hearty, herbed tomato sauce broth in the fall and winter, and lemon summer shandy broth in the spring and summer. Drop a platter of mussels in the middle of the table sitting in its sauce with side bowls for each guest. Consider small and large portion sizes to maximize orders and accommodate group size.
And remember the aforementioned charcuterie board. Tried, true, and tasty...but get creative! Aside from craft salamis and cheeses, add flavor flares that mix well with the mainstays. Try differentiating (and food cost effective) dried apricots, pepperoncini's, bleu cheese-filled olives, garlic breadsticks, habanero jam, or blueberry goat cheese. Serve with toothpicks for maximum hygiene and create space between ingredients for spatial “comfort.” Creative items also allow you to up the price point since perceived value skyrockets.
Like we said before, you just have to try the charcuterie board!