Which restaurant dishes will never come off the menu?
While talking with several restaurant folks for this week's Dish column about menus, I came across several stories about dishes that staff would never dare remove from the menu.
For example, Richard D'Amico, a partner in the D'Amico restaurant empire, told me that it's not unusual for the Naples Campiello to sell 150 of its famed chicken salads during lunch. The salads are so popular that they have to staff one employee just to prepare them. "Three years in a row, we raised the price," D'Amico says, but even that didn't deter customers from ordering the salad. "Certain items like the chicken salad become so popular, and you had better be in love with that dish because it'd be asking for it to take it off."
Several other Twin Cities chefs/restaurateurs dished on the dishes the offer that are far too popular to ever be removed from the menu:
Todd Bolton, food/beverage director at Parasole Our company is sprinkled with some oddball dishes that just seem to resonate with our guests. Il Gatto still has it's version of a few old Figlio dishes; Muffuletta has its Beer Cheese Soup; the Good Earths with their Cashew Chicken Salad and Cashew Chicken Melt--that one I can't figure out. The Beer Cheese Soup never seems to sell that well but it's fans are very devoted. The Cashew Chicken, on the other hand, sells like crazy.
All of these dishes are comforting, familiar and, most importantly, reliable. Good day, bad day, celebrating, mourning, etc., there is always a popcorn-garnished bowl of Beer Cheese Soup waiting for you, or a Three Cheese Ravioli at Il Gatto, or a cup of Pommes Frites at Salut, or Cashew Chicken Melt on toasted multigrain.
Asher Miller, chef at 20.21 Miso-sake glazed black cod with lomein noodles and tempura shiso leaf. The miso marinade is sweet, salty and addictive. We have regulars who come back for it over and over.
Roasted pork chop with mustard sauce and blue cheese potato gratin. Our menu is thoroughly Asian, but there's no way we could take this off. It might be the gratin. People sometimes order the gratin as the appetizer. There's probably more calories in it than a Big Mac, but it's really tasty.
Cantonese style duck with lomein noodles. I think it's the best duck preparation in the city. Bob and Sue MacDonald come specifically to have this dish every month, as do many other people. We change the sauce and the fruit we serve with it on a seasonal basis.
Heidi Panelli, co-owner Caribe Doubles--we probably sell 50-60 per week, which may not sound like a lot, but our dining room only seats 40 people. People have said they like them because they're a vegetarian option, they're unique, they're not like anything else they've tasted, and they're filling.
Conch Fritters. They're pretty "hot" right now & selling like crazy. People love the two homemade sauces they come with for dipping. Again, they are unique and they're deep fried--a "craveable" appetizer.
Michelle Whitelaw, manager at Fusion The edamame is such a basic thing that anybody could go to the grocery store and get, but it's literally one of our best sellers.
The former Zeno desserts. If we removed one dessert it would be anarchy.
David Burley, co/owner Blue Plate (Edina Grill, Groveland Tap, etc.) The sweet potato fries--we were first ones in town to have them.
The beer battered green beans and the steak and piroegis are huge dishes for us and we sell tons of them. It would be shooting yourself in the head to remove them.
I took the Elvis Burger at Highland Grill off the menu for a year--it was selling fine, but I got tired of it and was flexing my culinary muscles--and I got tons of flack for that. We put it back on a year later.
Get the Food & Drink Newsletter
Our weekly guide to Minneapolis & St. Paul dining includes food news and reviews, as well as dining events and interviews with chefs and restaurant owners.