Saturday 14 December 2019

10 Irish menu trends we want to let go of

Balsamic glaze: Unless you have a Michelin star or two, just stop it with the decorating.
Balsamic glaze: Unless you have a Michelin star or two, just stop it with the decorating.
Pork Feast: Would a little variety on the menu be so hard?
Parlsey: On everything.

Deb Hadley,

Irish restaurants tend to play it safe. Even the ethnic restaurants all have pretty much the same menus.

Here are 10 Irish restaurant trends we want to see put in the brown bin, for good. 

1) Sweet Chilli Sauce

For the love of Buddah, unless you are a Thai restaurant and have made it from scratch, this should not be on your menu. This gelatinous mass-produced goop has no place in sandwiches, as a dip, or on salads in any self-respecting chef-run restaurant.


2) Finger Food

Miniature food – what’s not to love? Everything, if it comes out of a bag in dodgy breading. Overcooked sausages, chicken nuggets from Thailand, and sausage or spring rolls from a bag are not good eating. While acceptable after a few pints when standards are low, these are not acceptable options on canapé menus for anything other than children’s parties – and even then, do us a favour and actually make them!


3) Mexican Food

Those mixes they sell at Musgraves are about as Mexican as Guinness. Fajitas, Tacos, Burritos even Nachos – if you pronounce the ‘L’ in tortillas or the “J” in jalapeños – then just leave them off the menu. We’ll all be better off for it.




4) Garlic Mushrooms

We know you don’t even make them there. They come out of a bag – and that awful fake garlic mayo they come with? Just no.  Oh, pardon me, you actually sauté yours with garlic? Fair play for trying, but we all know the people who actually order such a starter expect the bag kind and will just be disappointed anyway. Get original: think up some new starters.


5) “4 Course” Set Meals

If it says four courses, give me a fourth course. Tea or coffee is not a course, it’s a beverage.



6) Vegetable Soup

What is with vegetable soup? I don’t even ask what the soup of the day is any more, because unless I’m in an Avoca-wannabe cafe, it’s inevitably going to be vegetable. I understand this is an effective way to keep food waste to a minimum, but please… at least throw in some spices and give it a more creative name!


7) Desserts

Everyone loves desserts, but why do they always have to be the same? Apple Tart, Banoffee Pie, Bailey’s Cheesecake, and Profiteroles. Yawn. Jazz it up people, why be the same as everyone else? God knows you don’t even need a pastry chef to be able to get in some excellent dessert options these days!




8) The Full Irish

Now, I am not one to knock this national treasure, having missed it for so long while living abroad. However there are other things you can put on a breakfast menu. Think of the tourists! They travel the country for two weeks and while they enjoy their first two or three full Irish breakfasts, at the end of the trip they’ve sworn off pork for life. Would a little variety on the breakfast menu really be so hard?


9) Parsley

I’m all for garnish, especially if it’s edible and adds to the presentation of the dish, but parsley, again, on everything? On ethnic food? Come on! If you use the dried variety, I’ll leave there and then.



10) Balsamic Vinegar

Good balsamic is an incredible ingredient that can transform many a dish, but a chemically derived balsamic reduction that you “artfully” drizzle in zig-zag patterns across my plate before slapping my dinner on it has no taste or function. You may think it looks like TV cooking, but it says to me that you don’t care and whatever you’ve plopped down on top is likely to have just as little flair. The same goes for those dots of basil oil. Unless you have a Michelin star or two, just stop it with the decorating.


What are your restaurant menu pet peeves?  Is there anything that makes you want to throw your plate before you’ve even started?

This blogpost originally appeared on . You can also find on Facebook & Twitter. is a new take on parenting websites, covering a wide range of topics relevant to real Irish parents and the highs and lows of raising children in 21st century Ireland.


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