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Ideas for comfort food menu

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 
Hello, I've been looking for some advice/help on designing a new menu with focus on comfort foods and homemade hot sandwiches. It will be for a restaurant that has been a seasonal staple in my small town(25,000)for several decades. The operation is very successful in the summer months due to its location being right next to the lake in town. After the summer dies down so does the restaraunt. I'm working with the new owner on developing a menu that will attract customers into the fall/ winter months. Right now everything is coming in pre-made and due to our large volume over the summer, we could only change so much. Any suggestions for a comfort food style menu would be appreciated. Looking for fresh, easy, homemade dishes that wouldn't be intimidating or hard to put out, for a staff of largely first time cooks.
post #2 of 21
Hey there. First off I would like to say, 25000 is small?! I live in a town of 8000 LOL.
I'm not a professional, just a dude who loves to cook. I don't know what kind of food ur restaurant cooks normally but 2 of my favorite winter dishes r shepherds pie and clam chowder in a bread bowl. From what I under stand is they r both very easy to do in a restaurant setting. The chowder, well its soup, enough said. The shepherds pie, make the filling ahead of time then when ordered fill a ramikin top with mashed potatoes, broil then serve. Again I'm not a professional but I'm pretty sure a trained monkey could do that smile.gif have fun
post #3 of 21

It's a shame that trained monkeys are very hard to find here where I amconfused.gif

Every smoker quits smoking sooner or later!

Only the smart ones are doing it while they are still alive.

Reply

Every smoker quits smoking sooner or later!

Only the smart ones are doing it while they are still alive.

Reply
post #4 of 21
Pulled pork with homemade bbq sauce

Homemade veggie or regular chili

Daily soups



It depends on the demographic in the area.

Ur target is locals in the winter months.

How old are they?

How rich are they?

Go around to the other successful restaurants see what they do.

Dont copy , get inspired.

If it is as slow as you say you can do a lot more scratch cooking.

And cleaning.; )
post #5 of 21

Meatloaf

Bicuits and Gravy

Chicken and Dumplings

Braised Short Ribs

Chicken Fried Steak

 

Anything with lot's of gravy

post #6 of 21

Comfort food is such a wide category that deals a lot with where you are from / grew up, etc... Comfort food to me is some super heavy, super rich roux based mac n cheese that wants to instantly clog your arteries. Comfort food to someone who grew up with more money may be steak and potatoes, regardless; here are a few comfort food choices that you can easily "sex" up, either with ingredients or presentation options to make them as glamorous, or as "at-home" as you want them to be.

 

Pot pies - easy easy, about 10 oz of cooked chicken, a full .237 ladle of your veg/sauce mix, and top with a pastry crust. Wrap and store in walk in, pull out to order and give about 8-10 mins at 475 to toast the crust and get the mix nice and hot. 

 

Meatloaf - I know someone else said this but yeah.. so damn delicious.

 

Shrimp (or chicken) and grits - Another dish that's super easy to sex up or dumb down, whichever way you want to go with it.

 

Mac n cheese - You can either go gourmet, roux based, multiple cheese mixture topped with panko, or just simple shells n melted cheese to make it as simple or elegant as you want it.

 

Cottage Pie - Effing delicious

 

Something that a lot of restaurants in my area, including the one I work at, do in the slower months is, introduce weekly special(s). If it's easy to get fish, then on day x do a fish special, and then on day y do a meat special. Specials are a great way to introduce items that you normally wouldn't put on your menu and see how they are received.

 

Edit, as far as the hot sandwiches go, You can make almost any favorite into an open face, cover with gravy or a sauce and serve it hot, honestly the ideas are limitless there. Good luck man, hope you do well. Personally I'd love for you post back with what your final winter menu is, I'd love to check it out.

post #7 of 21

Anything in the Fanny Farmer cookbook

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

Reply
post #8 of 21
Thread Starter 
Thanks for all the suggestions. I was looking for things that I could cook myself and have the other cooks just plate. Until I could train them the same. I had a good amount of your suggestions in mind. Like chicken pot pie and cottage pie, where the cooks could just scoop the food into a bowl, top and throw in the oven. Does anyone have experience holding fried chicken in a sham? I thought it'd be nice on the menu but our customers are used to getting there food in less than 10 minutes? Also thinking of doing a veggie scampi for a vegetarian option but didn't trust anyone doing it to order. I was thinking of doing a premade sauce. Most other restaurants in town are Italian or diners. Most of the diners have a similar comfort food items, but with everything coming in premade. I just wanted to do fresh food with a twist to kind of set us apart.
post #9 of 21

We do our fried chicken to order, toss it in a batter then into the deep fryer, when it comes out it gets tossed in bbq sauce (optional of course) it is an under 10 minute item, depending on volume of course. If you have 80 open menus and 40 people order fried chicken, that 10 minute statement goes out the window.

post #10 of 21

pulled pork sandwiches 

short rib sliders

stuffed chicken

stuffed pork loin

mac n cheese

soups 

stews

post #11 of 21

Bangers and mash with onion gravy, Jam Roly Poly, Snake and Pigmy Pudding,Spotted Dick,Toad in the Hole with onion gravy, Welsh Rarebit, Queen of Puds, Treacle tart with cornflake and custard. Cauliflower Cheese, Cornish Pasties with baked beans.

post #12 of 21

Playing devil's advocate here...

In my limited experience, trying to serve a menu heavy on comfort/soul dishes is a bit dicey.

The love for these dishes lie in the subconscious of adults trying to relive or capture a certain feeling from their unique childhood experiences.

IMO each dish should have a spin on it so your diners aren't grumbling "this is not how my mom made it" or whatever, (unless maybe their mom's cook like my DD, in which case they are all over it, ;-)

Just a small distraction...like you are re-creating the whole comfort thing (which you are).

Like bacon crispies to garnish the mac n chz (or whatever, you get my drift...)

Except, for some reason chicken soup.

When I have a head cold and my pantry is low and no one will come 'round to see me and provide some take out, even Campbell's will do in a pinch.

Hmmm?

 

* Just a thought... please, please no more chicken ceasar salads.....

post #13 of 21

 Just a thought... please, please no more chicken ceasar salads....

 

 

Amen.

post #14 of 21

When I think of comfort foods I think of the following

 

Roast poultry w/ mash

Pot roast w/ roasted veg

Mac and cheese w/ garlic bread

Open faced hot turkey w/ mash

Ham w/ yams

Roasted beet soup

Winter squash soup

 

Your issue however doesn't seem to be your menu ideas. You don't even have one cook you can trust to rock out a veg scampi or do fried chicken to order. You need cooks with a skill set, or you need cooks that want to learn. Seems like more and more people are looking at this as general labor and not a trade/craft its sad really.
 

post #15 of 21
Thread Starter 
Yes, it is very sad. We have one cook who I can trust to cook pasta. That's it. If it were my place, I'd prob let everyone go.
post #16 of 21

All that is fine, in the right place/style/type of restaurant.

 

In our restaurant if we tried to server our customers a thin crust pizza and call it comfort food, they would flip our tables over in fits of rage.Same with hamburgers. While I agree with you about these items being great sellers, I would disagree that either of them would be considered comfort food, but again, there are tons of variables regarding comfort food. To me (and the majority of people in my area) comfort food is my Mom's old school fried chicken with skin on mashed potatoes and cornbread with a touch of sugar with a big glass of sweetened sun tea. To someone from another area, that may years away from what they consider comfort food.

 

I guess I'm just saying that because someone sells good, doesn't mean it should be on every menu, especially specialized menus.

post #17 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by berndy View Post

It's a shame that trained monkeys are very hard to find here where I amconfused.gif

All those trained monkeys find better work at NASA.

post #18 of 21

Chicken Noodle Soup with Grilled Cheese Sandwiches, hot baked apples with cinnamon sauce

Pinto Beans cooked with ham bone, bites of ham, cornbread AND/OR homemade white bread and butter,

Fresh hot Biscuits and sausage gravy served with finely chopped egg garnish

Boiled chicken and quartered potatoes, chopped onion, corn: the amount of broth makes it a plate or soup bowl.

Rice and bite size (beef, pork, chicken, fish) with Chinese vegetables.

Macaroni and Cheese served with beef links

post #19 of 21

It occurs to me that you could start with a basic seven comfort meals (one per day) -- menu would read "Comfort meal of the day" and your wait team would have to tell the diners. Request suggestions from your diners. Something like a suggestion box, but labeled "My favorite comfort food" ... then actually serve those items. It seems as though people would visit your establishment with a wider smile if they knew you were actually interested in making them happy. Plus, you might find diners coming out of curiosity. It could get popular enough to necessitate two per day, might spill over into the summer when your 'regular' are transient.

post #20 of 21

mcgee...

In my world grilled cheese is ALWAYS served with  (canned) tomato soup.

Always.

An exception can be made if the cheese is not sliced American (on white bread) then you are allowed to serve a twisted type tomato with cream and herbs (see the La Madeline menu).

Also, whenever white bread is served it is soft, soft, soft Wonder Bread.

See what I mean about trying to recreate comfort food for the masses?

;-)

 

 

mimi

 

* I do, however, like your dish of the day suggestion.

Carry on......

post #21 of 21

What kind of seasonally available meats etc do you have?

We used to do 2 main dishes in our restuarant a " cheap plate " kind of a blue plate special I guess and a main that was a bit dearer besides the regular other dishes.

Cheap would be either stuffed hearts, or a kidney turbigo stew kind of thing maybe goulash. cheap cuts of meat slow braised served in a rich gravy with dumplings with one or 2 veg.

Or a roast, either beef lamb or pork.

Wee did on dish that was always popular called farmhouse cobbbler.

a sort of stew using potates carrots and peas with pork sausage balls in a gravy made from chicken and leek soup. it was topped with cheese scones ( hence the cobbler ) easy to make inexpensive to produce  add the scone to precooked stew base  and bake for 10-15 minutes to finish.
 

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