Menus are more confusing than they need to be: research

14 February, 2017 by
Danielle Bowling

New research from OpenTable has revealed that 83 percent of Australians feel restaurant menus are more confusing than they need to be.

The Misunderstood Menu Jargon report was conducted by Galaxy Research in October 2016, comprising a sample size of 1,265 respondents across Australia.


The research found that three-quarters (74 percent) of diners have needed to ask wait staff to explain an item on a menu during their dining experiences. More than one-third (40 percent) shared their discomfort in asking for clarification of unfamiliar culinary terms and naming conventions.

When unsure of how to pronounce a menu item, 47 percent of diners will point to a menu item when making their order, while one-third (37 percent) will attempt to pronounce it without asking for wait staff assistance.


According to the research, Gen Y diners are the most confused (83 percent) when it comes to menu jargon, with the demographic more likely than Gen X (71 percent) and Baby Boomers (68 percent) to have had to ask a waiter or waitress to explain an item on a menu when dining out.

Seventy-two percent of diners expect to find jargon or confusing menu terms in the mains section of restaurant menus. This is followed by the entree (14 percent) and lunch (nine percent) sections.


Lisa Hasen, vice president of OpenTable, APAC, said “Today’s chefs are reinventing classic techniques and international dishes, and bringing them into a modern framework. By pushing these boundaries to enhance the dining experience, some Australian diners are being challenged to keep up with food jargon; however, it definitely hasn’t dampened their thirst for trying new dishes or cuisines.”

In Australia, the top 10 most misunderstood menu items include:

  1. Mirepoix (68 percent)
  2. Salmagundi (68 percent)
  3. Shakshuka (66 percent)
  4. Pan haggerty (65 percent)
  5. Meuniere (63 percent)
  6. Beignet (63 percent)
  7. En papillote (62 percent)
  8. Lardo (61 percent)
  9. Amuse bouche (61 percent)
  10. Blanquette de veau (61 percent)

On the back of this research, OpenTable has launched a Menu Jargon Buster to help define culinary terms that diners may not be familiar with.