LADING

{6/31 days} creating a menu

This is day 6 of my 31 days of coffee shop stories. Welcome.

After all the fuss about the renovation, we needed a break with something tastier and nicer. So we had to take care of the menu. Of course, I bought plenty of books on that topic, but it still felt like it was something missing. And I found out soon enough what it was: the rational use of resources. This means both cooks and raw materials. Which means that we had to find those specific ingredients and use them in those specific ways to give birth to an attractive menu, with several types of dishes, in all price ranges. Which is a bit difficult to do if you go ahead and select recipes from books.

Then, it was the issue of outfitting the kitchen and the storage spaces. And when this became too much too handle, we were happy we hired a consultant. With previous experience in opening and running coffee shops and bistros, with a huge list of recipes in his pocket, Assi was a mine gold. Together, we decided for a light menu, with only a couple of soups, some sandwiches and salads, appetizers and desserts.

For the drinks menu, we worked with Alex, a great bartender, who revived some of the classics for us, and also invented a few drinks that are appreciated ever since. We thank both of them for the great start we had.

We had almost two weeks of shopping for ingredients and utensils, which was both fun and tiring. My favorite part was buying plates. Now, it has lost some of its charm, to be honest. Assi trained the cooks and created the recipe book, Alex was taking care of the bartenders. We tasted and took photos. We were amazed that such incredible things could come out of our kitchen.

To make sure our menu is even more personal, we decided to create names for every dish. Of course, we let bruschetta be bruschetta and goulash be goulash, but we named all other dishes after friends, airports, cities. The salmon sandwich became Misla, the username of a Finish friend. The chicken and Thai sauce salad became Kiat Tay, a friend from that part of the world. The Greek style chicken and tzatziki sandwich was Kallitsa, a greek friend of ours. What we didn’t imagine back then, is that every new menu will be an exercise in creativity, you won’t believe what names we came up with.

Here is the top 5 interesting names we have in the menu today (in no particular order):

  • Colima is the name of a Mexican airport and a Mexican style dish, with rice, chicken and vegetables
  • Geol is the short for geology and names a layered dessert in a glass, with fruits and ice-cream
  • Smurf is the name of the very classic, not so spectacular grilled chicken with sauteed mushrooms (from the very lovable Smurfs)
  • Amarantha is the baby spinach salad with cheese sauce (from the Amaranthaceae family)
  • Muntok is a type of pepper and a dish consisting of veal and… pepper. Lots of it.

Some of the dishes are now classic, like Tomatina, the tomato cream soup – one of the best in town, if I can say so myself – and Colima, the above mentioned mexican style chicken. Some of them change periodically and it’s a challenge for everybody to remember all the new names. After our collaboration with Assi ended, the chefs are in charge with renewing the menu twice a year.

This is it, for today. Hope you are not too hungry. See you tomorrow, with more talk about the menu – this time, the presentation form.

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