Adjectives Versus Superlatives in Restaurant Menu Copy

Regardless of where in the world you are, you have likely seen “World’s Best” claimed at a restaurant. Could be their hamburger, or their ribs, or steak; but whatever it is we all sort of roll our eyes in knowing just because they claim it doesn’t make it so. Superlatives are bold claims that are often hard to believe when proffered by restaurants. A far better way to write is to use true adjectives that are believable; this will go much further in winning hearts and minds as well as building credibility in your restaurant menu copy.

Restaurant Menu Copy - Superlatives Breed Skepticism
Restaurant Menu Copy – Superlatives Breed Skepticism

Use Truthful Adjectives in Restaurant Menu Copy

One should only use adjectives that are accurate though (truth in advertising) and not dress up descriptions by stuffing inaccurate adjectives in menu descriptions. Perhaps some of these work for you: “line-caught,” “free-range,” “shade-grown,” etc.

These types of adjectives both more accurately describe what is being served while also making the item sound more appealing and appetizing. Adjectives can conjure positive associations in the mind of the customer where as superlatives conjure images of snake oil salesmen.

Restaurant Industry Legislation for Truth in Advertising

Some government agencies are working to protect and preserve truth in advertising and are cracking down on misleading restaurant menu copy and descriptions. For instance, in Florida, restaurants have long gotten away with serving Tilapia and calling it Grouper (while they taste similar, the price is quite different between the two and so some operators were buying the cheaper Tilapia and selling it as the more expensive Grouper and pocketing the difference).

The Best Approach

In general, the best approach to writing restaurant menu copy is to stick to unique, descriptive, accurate and appealing adjectives and avoid superlatives and false claims. Today’s consumer is willing to pay a little more for a better experience at a restaurant they trust.

Restaurant Consultant

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