Developing a signature dish is a great way to gain interest in your restaurant. Not only do you get people wanting to make at booking at your restaurant to try the signature dish, but you will be able to plan your ordering around it.
A signature dish is basically your best dish – a well cooked, well planned plate of food that represents your cooking and your restaurant to your best advantage. Most good restaurants have a signature dish – think of the Black Code in Miso at Nobu, or the triple cooked chips at Heston Blumenthal’s Hind’s Head in Bray.
Before you start thinking that your signature dish needs to be the most expensive dish on your menu or has to include fancy ingredients like lobster and caviar, think again. The Ivy is well known for its simply cooked, nursery food like Shepard’s pie and fish pie and the celebrities keep coming back for more.
How to Develop a Signature DishA good place to start is to sit down with your chef and brainstorm some ideas. Use whatever you have available to your advantage – if you are in a seaside location, think of something new with fish. You don’t have to come up with some crazy concept; a simple dish well done is far more appealing. If your chef has experience of working in a French bistro, perhaps you could focus on making the greatest ‘steak and fries’ in your local area – think about what customers like eating and then do it the best you can, with great ingredients.
The Price of Your Signature DishIt makes good business sense to create a signature dish for your restaurant that is not expensive to prepare. Perhaps you could think about adding value to otherwise cheap cuts, such as slow cooked beef dishes or offal.
Carefully price up your dish, taking into consideration the price of bulk buying from your suppliers. Also consider the time it will take to cook the dish and whether or not some elements can be pre-prepared without any issues.
Do not get carried away and think that you can charge more for a signature dish – it needs to be something that represents great skill, good value for money and an enjoyable experience.
Promote Your Signature DishOnce you have designed and priced your signature dish, you need to make people know about it. You can get some great PR by inviting people from the local newspaper or popular magazine to come and try it for free, or put an advert in the window or newspaper telling customers about it.
As long as your signature dish lives us to the hype – it must taste great, be well priced and be available all year round – you will be able to build a great reputation for your restaurant. Be careful not to get too complacent, though – just because customers are falling over themselves to taste your famous fajitas, or whatever, you cannot let the quality slip or the price rise just to cash in. Offer good food at a good price and you will be keeping your customers and your bank manager happy for a long time to come.