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Alternative Presentation: Can your sides increase your profits?

8:32 am

Have you thought about the presentation of your dishes lately? It’s true that people eat with their eyes, so give them something tantalising to look at and you’re already half way to creating a great dish. Studies have proven that improved presentation can actually encourage diners to rate the taste of a dish higher than one with the same ingredients, cooked in the same way. And here’s the really interesting part – they’re also willing to pay more.

It might be time to throw out your tired old crockery and inject a little creativity into the presentation of your sides and snacks, and you’ll soon be reaping the rewards. There are so many ways to present a dish, and new trends are always surfacing. Finding what works for your business can be a fun and creative experience to get stuck into. Whether you’re going retro, quirky or classic, there’s plenty of tableware to suit your needs on the market. 

Get creative

One of the biggest current trends is enamelware, and for the past few years it’s been the tableware of choice for many trendy establishments. Unlike most crockery, enamelware’s look gets better with age, as chips and scuffs add to the rustic feel, reminiscent of childhood camping. Enamel mugs make the perfect pot for chips and onion rings. Another benefit of enamelware is that for trendy sides, like mac ‘n’ cheese, the dishes can be used in the oven and also served at the table – a great way to save on the washing up!

Quirky presentation is also currently taking the industry by storm. Ever fancied your chips in a mini dustbin or a watering can? It might seem a bit ‘out there’, but a little eccentricity in food presentation makes for a memorable meal, and can give an otherwise simple dish an edge. There’s a fine line between quirky and over the top though, so try to keep your dish looking sophisticated and appetising rather than having busy presentation and compromising the meal. After all, it is ultimately about the food, and there has been a lot of backlash in the media regarding gimmicky presentation that’s gone too far. You don’t want your food to be remembered for the wrong reasons.

Continuing the garden presentation theme, Churchill’s ‘Bit on the Side’ range includes a variety of plant pot style dishes that are perfect for snacks and sides. With a range of sizes and depths, they are ideal for nuts, chips, olives and other snacks, as well as dips in the flat dishes. To bring these separate sides together, or create a base for these pots, you can carry on the nature inspired look and use wooden boards or slates to arrange your items. This type of presentation is extremely popular at the moment, and gives you space to add extras, such as condiments.

Go the extra mile

It’s the extra little touches that elevate a dish and make it something special. Once you’ve got the presentation sorted, you can think about garnishing your dish and creating sauces to go with it. Gourmet, homemade dips have been taking centre stage in a lot of restaurants when it comes to sides. These are simple and cheap to make but mean you can charge more for a dish, while the customer will still feel that they are getting their money’s worth. This trend has taken off in many gourmet burger chains, from blue cheese mayo to smoky BBQ sauce, and you can really pack a punch with the flavours and show off your skills. You can also offer these sauces as add-ons for your dishes, encouraging people to increase their spend per head – an extra £1 per person for a sauce can go a long way! There’s a great range of ramekins on offer too, to help you keep control of portion sizes and keep tables looking tidy. 

With garnishes for your sides, if it’s supposed to be a simple dish then it’s best to stay simple. Sometimes salt and pepper is all you need, and maybe a wedge of lemon to squeeze over olives or a little bit of green salad on the side of a sausage roll. Try to avoid spending too much on unnecessary additions that won’t increase your profit margins.

Trendy snacks for 2016

Keep your menu fresh and on-trend, and customers are more likely to take interest. This year popcorn is making its way into bars as a must-have snack, in an experimental variety of flavours. The days of popcorn being a snack confined to the cinema are over, and with the current health revolution, fatty crisps are being replaced by this low-fat alternative. Another favourite over the past couple of years, and still going strong, is the gourmet Scotch egg. You can create flavour packed twists on this old picnic classic, and it serves as a great bar snack, starter or part of a sharing board. Variations such as pulled pork and avocado have been used to replace the usual sausage meat mix, and recipes can be ultra-simple or a bit more extravagant depending on your menu.

A photo posted by SherryD85 (@sherryd85) on

Seaweed has seen a big growth in sales in the last year, and is tipped to be the new kale. If you’re looking to offer healthy snacks, dried seaweed is a great option and you can sprinkle flavours, like wasabi or salt, onto baked sheets. Seaweed doesn’t need to be confined to the snacks menu - you can crumble dried seaweed over salads and soups to add extra texture and nutrients to dishes. Forever popular sides include sweet potato fries and triple cooked chips, and for bar snacks olives, nuts and wasabi peas. Keeping a few classics on the menu is bound to be a crowd-pleaser. Check out our recent blog post for more 2016 food trends. 

Profit Increase

Be reasonable with any menu price increases. The last thing you want to do is upset your customers and end up losing profits, rather than gaining them. You need to be sure that customers will perceive your price increase as worth the extra cost. It’s all about value for money. Make it clear in your menu descriptions what you are offering and that this is a new improved version of your dish – if there’s a homemade sauce with it, mention this. Hypothetically, for a plain white plate with chips thrown on and no extra seasoning or sauces, imagine you’d pay around £2.50 (depending on your location and the type of restaurant). Compare that to chunky chips nestled neatly in a trendy enamel mug with a homemade gourmet dip on the side. Presented in this way, you can charge roughly an extra £1.25 per portion, and with extra sauces on offer for £1 a pop, the humble chip will increase your revenue in no time.

To encourage people to try your revamped dishes, you can place table talkers with photos of your new improved presentation and what’s available. Take to Facebook and Twitter to create some hype, with high quality images to tempt in customers. From this point it’s all about how you market your new snacks and sides, so get people excited and enjoy the extra revenue from your hard work.

By Rosemary Berry


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