Ever been turned off by a menu item you just didn’t understand? You’re not alone.
One in five restaurant diners won’t order a menu item with a description they don’t recognize, according to a recent online survey of 2,035 diners from OpenTable. Two-thirds will ask the server to explain the term, while two in five will canvas their fellow diners for a description.
Diners overwhelmingly avoid unknown dishes because they worry it will ruin their meal or they feel it’s a waste of money if they don’t like it, the survey found.
Restaurants may want to consider adding descriptions to unfamiliar food items if they want customers to order the more exotic choices, according to the survey. More than a quarter of diners said some menus are more confusing than they need to be, while a third said they choose a restaurant based on how familiar they are with the menu items.
Better menus could help. Nine out of ten diners said they would be more likely to order an unusual dish if the menu offered better explanations, such as photos of the dish or a glossary of menu terminology.
Still, there are dare-devil foodies among us. Almost one in five diners ordered an unfamiliar dish as a challenge. Men were more likely to take up this dare than women.