Cue the candles, soft music and luscious floral arrangements: Valentine's Day is on its way. Many couples view this romantic day as incomplete without a special meal. And goodness knows it's good for business, as consumer spending approaches $20 billion ($3.7 billion of which is spent on an evening out). On this high-traffic holiday, put your best culinary foot forward to capture your slice of the market.
To prix fixe or not to prix fixe?
Creating a prix fixe menu for the evening is a popular tactic for fine dining establishments. This has its advantages: you can more accurately predict revenue per head and simplify a hectic night for your kitchen staff, while your guests feel like they're being treated to a special culinary experience.
However, there are some cons as well, as noted by prominent chefs. Some guests will want to savor an old favorite and might be disappointed that it's unavailable. Or maybe a prix fixe menu doesn't show off your restaurant's strengths and personality. You also run the risk of alienating singles, families and budget-conscious diners.
Your best option might be somewhere in the middle. You could offer the prix fixe dinner in addition to your regular menu, or provide different price points for 2-, 3- and 4-course options. Try giving 3-4 items to choose from per course to accommodate each diner's tastes.
Your V-Day menu should evoke the emotions of the occasion: fun, romance, elegance. Foods with aphrodisiac qualities will be well-received, as will rich treats and warm color palettes. Use this as a chance to show off some of your kitchen's best work, and diners will think of you for their next date night.
Then there are the practical considerations. If you go the prix fixe route, remember to carefully consider costs and profit margin to ensure your price point is appealing for the customer and profitable for you. Focus on dishes that can be prepared efficiently or even dishes that can be prepared a day or two in advance to keep the crowds happy.
And don't forget about drink pairings!
Not sure how to get started? Here are some prix fixe menu favorites to consider:
· Oysters on the half shell with a sherry mignonette
· Balsamic spinach salad with roasted beets, gorgonzola and blood oranges
· Roasted red pepper bisque
· Prosciutto-wrapped figs stuffed with goat cheese and walnuts with honey drizzle
· Aged gouda fondue for two
· Grilled lobster tails with chili-garlic butter sauce
· Winter squash stuffed with truffle parmesan risotto
· Coffee-rubbed ribeye with Hasselback sweet potato
· Seared duck breast and roasted asparagus with cherry-port demiglace
· Pistachio-encrusted scallops in a champagne cream sauce
· Molten chocolate cake with scratch vanilla ice cream
· Pomegranate-berry sorbet
· Strawberries stuffed with liqueured mascarpone and dipped in dark chocolate
· Salted caramel pot de creme
· Red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting
These are just a few ideas to get your gears turning. Treat your guests to a memorable evening, and they'll be back before you know it.