Help design my menu!
August 2, 2012 7:30 PM   Subscribe

What food should I serve at my slopeside bar?

Hi everyone, I come to you for your collective wisdom.

I am opening a bar / restaurant (though more bar focused) on the slopes of a large Colorado mountain. I recognize that people coming off the mountain want something substantial to eat, though I am dealing with severe space constraints. My kitchen (more of a kitchenette) has only a refrigerated prep station, induction burner, and convection oven. It has no vent hood.

I want to keep my menu simple and focused with items that require little to no time to put together upon receipt of an order. It is preferred if I can prep things beforehand and then throw them together when the time comes.

My current menu:

- Pita chips with hummus, baba ghanoush, and olive dip

- Toasted pita with spinach artichoke dip

- Bagel chips with smoked salmon, crème fraîche, chive and sliced sweet tomato

- Toasted rosemary focaccia, sea salt, balsamic, and olive oil

- Gourmet nachos: shredded goat gouda, red cabbage, and pulled pork with green chili salsa and ancho sour cream

- Charcuterie and cheese board

- Blue corn vegan nachos: vegan cheese, organic soy, arbor chile salsa

- Gourmet PB&J:
- Guava jam and almond butter on chunky multigrain
- Hazelnut chocolate with bananas on zucchini bread

I fear this menu is more bar/snack oriented than I want it to be. However, if you notice, only the nachos require any cooking before serving to the customer --> easy and with a quick turnaround! I am not a full on restaurant, and I recognize that, but I want people to be happy eating lunch at my establishment.

What might you suggest I serve?


*Please do not comment telling me why I have no business opening a bar.
posted by masters2010 to Food & Drink (27 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Is this a winter/ski place? If so, I think people will expect something hot.
posted by acidic at 7:42 PM on August 2, 2012

I think you need to add something along the lines of a daily soup or stew or chili. That's easy to make with one burner - hell, buy a couple of big crockpots and you'd be set with those - and it's more substantial and warming than a snack tray. French onion soup, for example, is so simple and so delicious and it's really filling as well. I make a lot of hearty soups in the winter; they're not difficult, take well to simmering for hours and reheat beautifully. All you need to serve them are bowls, a ladle and some good bread on hand.
posted by mygothlaundry at 7:42 PM on August 2, 2012 [21 favorites]

Fondue! It is tied to skiing via Switzerland and it's incredibly filling. You can keep it warm in a crock pot or probably even get away with nuking it out of the fridge. The bread cubes are easy. But it doesn't really fit in with the theme you're suggesting with the rest of your choices...
posted by scose at 7:45 PM on August 2, 2012 [2 favorites]

Agree that hot chili is a winner - triple points if you can carry veg chili as well.

You could experiment with pre-making par-cooked simple quesadillas that could be re-heated. (Could offer a chicken-based one and a black bean one.)

Could do a similar thing with spring rolls. No re-heating, and you could make vegan ones and meaty ones.

Could do cold salads by the scoop: a five-bean salad; roasted root veggies with herbs; a really good tabouleh. (Maybe also tuna salad or chicken salad, but I haven't dealt with those.) Again, you'd prepare them beforehand, or may be able to source direct from your supplier?

Also, for courtesy - it's great you are doing a vegan option!
Allow the option of veggies (eg, baby carrots and snap peas) with your dip plates.

Have options explicitly labeled gluten-free and low-carb.
posted by LobsterMitten at 7:52 PM on August 2, 2012

Also if you can do an upscale riff on poutine (gravy cheese fries), that is like the perfect storm of apres ski appealingness.
posted by LobsterMitten at 7:54 PM on August 2, 2012 [6 favorites]

grilled cheese sandwiches (with bacon, onion jam, you know, fancy it up).
posted by peachfuzz at 8:10 PM on August 2, 2012 [8 favorites]

Have some kids items - PBJ, grilled cheese, milk and juice boxes.
posted by k8t at 8:36 PM on August 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

You could serve panini. This would only require that you get a press for the sandwiches. Panini seem a little 'fancier' than regular sandwiches and have the added benefit of being hot.
posted by semaphore at 8:38 PM on August 2, 2012 [3 favorites]

Stew! It's cheap, it's hearty, it holds forever, prep is a breeze, and there's no real worry about over- or under-cooking it. Just make a giant pot every morning (or every week, depending on how many covers you do and the gigantitude of you pot), and keep it in the fridge, and heat up each order in a frying pan till it simmers (greater surface area means it reheats faster), put it in a bowl and garnish with fresh herb, coarse pepper, and some of the bread you're already stocking for the other dishes. You could probably have two or three stews on the menu at a time, some meat, some vegan, etc. Beef and Guinness, Moroccan Lentil, pork and pozole (using the pull pork you're already making for the nachos), all kinds of curries, the possibilities are endless.

A variation on this is ragú (not the brand jarred sauce but the actual dish), which is easy to prepare. For every #10 can of diced tomatoes, add 5 pounds of cheap cuts of meat (shoulder, shanks, rump, etc), 3 large onions, 2 heads of garlic (peeled), 1 bottle of wine, 1 whole nutmeg, and 1 tablespoon of salt. Cook in a low oven (250º-275º for 6-10 hours, and serve a big scoop over penne, linguini, or any pasta shape with a decent amount of surface area.
posted by Jon_Evil at 8:55 PM on August 2, 2012 [4 favorites]

Second the soups -- I once had a very satisfying green chile stew on the slopes at Taos. Split pea soup with a little (lot?) of bacon would also be good.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 8:57 PM on August 2, 2012

Don't offer tomatoes with the smoked salmon unless you can reliably source really, really good ones when in season. A lackluster tomato ruins everything and I'm guessing your diners will be high end foodie types who would agree.

Someone is going to want a salad, even though most people will go for hot/carbs, so you might as well offer one since they're not too much prep and the lo-carb people will be happy. Main problem, again, is freshness, consistency and availability of ingredients. You can offer it with or without chicken or some other protein for a heartier option.
posted by slow graffiti at 9:18 PM on August 2, 2012

There is a restaurant in my town with a kitchen about your size. They make the best shepherd's pie. Also lots Of sausages that they heat in the oven. Good luck!
posted by dawkins_7 at 9:42 PM on August 2, 2012

Jon_Evil's idea has my belly rumbling and I just ate dinner. If you decide to go with a stew-heavy menu, be sure to serve it with a sizeable piece of really good sturdy bread because that is delicious. Or do bread bowls, which would probably be more expensive breadwise but would involve fewer dishes and so perhaps be something of a wash. Also I think in a bread bowl you can get away with serving less actual soup for the same price and nobody will mind as long as the bread is good.
posted by Scientist at 10:20 PM on August 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

I don't have specific dish recs but what appears to be most significantly missing are solid protein dishes. Like something that could fill the role of a decent burger, fitting within the constraints of your kitchen.
posted by 6550 at 10:26 PM on August 2, 2012 [2 favorites]

Meat pies/pasties/empanadas (meat filling in a pastry shell) would fill that role maybe.
Quiche or similar could be kept in a cold case and sliced out and warmed.
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:40 PM on August 2, 2012

If you get a panini maker, you can easily whip up melted cheesy bread delights to go with all that lovely soup you'll be making. (Don't forget cream of potato, in addition to the aforementioned split pea!)
posted by brina at 10:52 PM on August 2, 2012

If you could team up with some local bakery, serving flatbreads would be an excellent idea. You could use your current meats/vegetables/cheeses on the flatbreads and they would be hearty enough to be main courses.
posted by semaphore at 10:54 PM on August 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

Yeah, soups are a great idea!

I think you have too many variations on bread + things to dip them into. Out of the first 3 you've listed, only offering 1 or maybe 2 should be enough - I feel like the types of people who like pita chips are also the types who would order bagel chips.

Current suggestions are also very heavy on the cheese, which makes sense because it makes for a nice warm, wintery snack, but consider offering something that's spicy or otherwise a different flavor profile.
posted by estlin at 10:56 PM on August 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

Definitely a hot soup/stew/chili, like many others have mentioned. I spent time at a mountain where a slope-side dig had big fat hot fresh pretzels, which were pretty amazing. With a few mustard options...mmmmm. And maybe a cheap hot grilled cheese for the locals or something? You gotta have something like that. Rediculously cheap (both for folks to buy and for you to make) that doesnt catch too many eyes on the menu, but becomes the local's secret.
posted by Grandysaur at 11:07 PM on August 2, 2012

I would suggest a big old pile of pancakes, but it sounds like you don't have the burner space, but a loader waffle, breakfast, lunch or dinner, would hit the spot. Sweet or savory. Carbs are your friend.
posted by Grandysaur at 11:10 PM on August 2, 2012 [2 favorites]

Are you intentionally vegetarian, or is that a by-product of your cooking restrictions? If I just came in off of the snow, I would want meat and/or cheese and bread. Your snacks are great for a hot summer day, but nothing I would want after skiing. (sorry)
posted by The Light Fantastic at 11:13 PM on August 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

I would simplify it, particularly at first.

Two hot things. One vegetarian, one meaty. Probably one of them soup, the other something that can stay in the oven. Shepherd's pie could work. (Individual pies look posher)

Ready to go panini's and a sandwich press are a great idea. Also something starchy and cheap.

Toasted banana bread could work well. Hits the sweet spot too.

I found fondue in a box (imported from Switzerland I think) recently in Australia, and it was surprisingly good! Like seriously. Nuked it for a couple of minutes. Nom.

Is this a posh looking place? Because the menu you've got sounds more faff than substance. After skiing, I'd prefer substance, but it sounds like you'd prefer posh. If so, feel free to ignore.
posted by kjs4 at 2:35 AM on August 3, 2012

I'm noticing that there aren't too many choices for the Paleo-inclined. I'm not a Paleo diet person myself, so I don't know all the restrictions, but you might ask for ideas on a Paleo board, or a smart, creative foodcentric place like Epicurious, since so many people seem to be doing this. My first thought was a stuffed Portobello mushroom offering because there are a billion delicious recipes to suit every diet restriction (except the non-mushroom diet).

But I just came across this Crockpot Cuban Pork Lettuce Wraps recipe, which seems like something that might work great in your set-up: crockpot recipe that can be made overnight plus refrigerated slaw? Seems likes a winner, and I really, really want to eat this right now. (I note that the top image seems to have an avocado slice added, though it doesn't show up in the directions for the construction of the sandwich. I would totally add that, though.)

I found this recipe via this Pinterest page that has other interesting pics of dishes from sites with clever Paleo recipes. (You may have to click through a couple of times to get to the actual site with the recipe.)
posted by taz at 4:58 AM on August 3, 2012

Add traditional PB&J, dump the focaccia item (that is not even a snack), and consider adding a daily soup on your one burner.
posted by DarlingBri at 5:16 AM on August 3, 2012

If you've got the stuff for nachos, and you've got a standard chili simmering in a vat, you could probably make a pretty decent burrito... or "hot wrap sandwich" whatever you want to call it.
posted by aimedwander at 7:09 AM on August 3, 2012

-Roasted vegetable salad (can be served cold but feel substantial to this vegetarian)
-Panini with eggplant and cheese, and one with meat
-Special mix of dried fruit and nuts that you put together (as a bonus, you could package this and sell it to go)
-Spicy carrot soup
-Veg chili
-Cookies, lots of cookies
-Get an electric kettle and serve hot chocolate and coffee, possibly with boozy additions
posted by rmless at 8:52 AM on August 3, 2012

Since you've already got the pulled pork for the nachos, I think something like pulled pork sliders with goat gouda and cabbage would fill the "meatier" void that people are mentioning, without changing the style of your current menu. I also agree that the menu should probably have at least a salad with protein option, for people who are avoiding carbs. Also, then people who want something heartier than a snack to go with their drink could choose to order a soup & salad or salad & focaccia meal.

Based on the hummus platter (which will probably often be shared) you could make a more single person lunch style hummus sandwich with lettuce, tomato, feta, and olive (my favorite version of this is actually on bread rather than in a pita wrap and has pine nuts in it, but I don't know if that matches your style).

It seems like you could fool around with mostly the ingredients you already have planned, and adjust the menu from week to week to see if your patrons are more interested in sandwich type stuff or snacky sharing stuff. Good luck, it sounds delicious.
posted by Secretariat at 9:52 AM on August 3, 2012

« Older How does teaching translate to other work?   |   The source of "do and then you'll be..."? Looking... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.