How do you name a menu item?

I don’t want this bit to be a technical bit so much, more of a Friday fun day thingy. But I will glaze over the rules of menu item descriptions. A few lines that tell the story behind the food on the plate and evoke senses in the reader while recounting the ingredients and the process of creating the masterpiece can be considered as a functional item description. However, easier than said than done, creating a perfect balance between appetizing sounding story, yet keeping it short and exciting is can be quite tricky. Here is a more detailed article I wrote some time ago;


There are two rules for first writing your menu item name, descriptions always follow. Rule number one, keep it classical. By classical, I mean that you are listing an item that you didn’t create, it’s a classic. For example Crepe Suzette; The origin of the dish and its name is disputed. One claim is that it was created from a mistake made by a fourteen-year-old assistant waiter Henri Charpentier in 1895 at the Maitre at Monte Carlo’s Café de Paris. He was preparing a dessert for the Prince of Wales, the future King Edward VII of the United Kingdom, whose guests included a beautiful French girl named Suzette. This story was told by Charpentier in his autobiography.

Usually classical dishes are named after people, places or events. Escoffier was famous for his dishes named after famous females of the 18th century. The second rule is less formal, the dish is your own. Similarly you could follow the people, place or event formula or you could deviate by modifying a classic. It’s all a question of word smithing. Here is an example. Osso Bucco, a classical dish of veal shank in an aromatic tomato fond. Normally served with a saffron risotto, this is a classic Italian dish. To make it contemporary you might list it as follows. Lamb Shank “Marakeesh”, in the style of Osso Bucco. This implies a new interpretation of the classic, get it?

How to be a wordsmith.

Words can be tempting. Words that have been known to set the salivary glands working have been carefully placed in food descriptions in menus for ages. The following are the words most commonly used while writing restaurant menu descriptions.

  • Vibrant, Tangy, Yummy, Zesty
  • Caramelized, Wood-oven roasted, Crispy, Buttered
  • Leafy, Tender, Creamy, Elegant
  • Aromatic, Delicate, Drizzled, Encrusted
  • Succulent, Velvety, Home-made, Infused
  • Juicy, Kneaded, Local, Meticulously
  • Melt-in-your-mouth, Organic, Pan-seared, Quintessential
  • Slow-roasted, Seasonal, Time-tested, Unbeatable


Of course there is much more to this, a whole lesson on menu science is required. Remember that your menu is designed to SELL. For an interesting list of dish names, check this out; Menu’s should be fun, inviting and most importantly designed to feature your best work and of course to be profitable. Cheers, and happy Friday!