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Menu matters | 5 of the best restaurant menu design tips to suit your style.

Your menu is one of the first impressions people will have of your venue, so it’s important that you really nail it and make it part of your brand story.

By Chloe Chaplin

The hospitality market has never been more sophisticated or competitive than it is now, and, as a result, the expectations of patrons have become higher than ever. And so, as the options for consumers continue to increase and the bar is set higher and higher, it’s the little details that set businesses apart.

Sure, food, atmosphere, and service will always reign supreme, but think your menu doesn’t matter? Think again.

A thoughtful, beautifully designed menu is integral to today’s dining experience and something customers absolutely expect from a modern venue. Your menu is a chance to show your customers who you are – your ethos as a brand, your taste and your flair, without saying a word. It’s one of the first impressions people will have of your venue, so it’s important that you really nail it and make it part of your brand story.

There are lots of different factors that go into creating menus that stand out from the crowd, and there are plenty of stellar examples out there, but the most important thing is to choose a design for your menu that reflects your brand. It’s all well and good to follow the latest trend or choose the most cutting-edge menu template around, but if it’s not authentic, it’s not going to cut it.

That said, there are some common factors that are evident in the best menus out there today. So, if in doubt, pay attention to:

Layout

Think about where the eye is drawn to and construct your menu accordingly. The general thinking is that diners generally look toward the upper right-hand corner of a menu, so many restaurants place menu items they most want to sell up there to make sure it’s in the limelight.

Restaurants can also make their menus more customer-friendly by using clear headings to signpost each section eg starters, wine etc.

We love how simple Laneway Greens keep their menu, and the clear journey it sends you along.

Colours

Smart use of colour can take your menu to the next level, but you need to be careful to ensure the colour you choose works with your branding. Your menu should be an extension of your brand, so if using colour, try to pull from your existing palette. The type of restaurant you are also matters and the menu should reflect that, ie if you’re a fine-dining establishment, dial up the elegance, or if you’re a bit more casual, keep it simple. 

Font

If you have a consistent font for your brand that’s really dominant, this should flow through to your restaurant menu. If not, choose wisely and go with something clean and modern. Tricky typography can end up looking messy and be hard to read – you’re aiming for a clear and compelling look and feel that also stays true to your brand.

Simplicity

Sure, there are endless design tricks you can employ, but that doesn’t mean you should! Keep it simple, functional and beautiful without overdoing it.

Lagotto have a style, it’s simple. So, their menu reflects it, from the front to the back.

Struggling to decide on your menu design?

To help narrow down the search, we’ve rounded up five starting point to help you stay true to your brand and easily create one of best-looking restaurant menus out there.

Traditional

There’s a reason why lots of menu designs look familiar – when there’s a formula that works, you stick with it!

Particularly good for fine diners where you want to project a sense of refinement, this elegant, straightforward menu is just right.

If you’d like to use this template, it’s all yours, you can download a PDF version to edit below.

Colour of the moment

In case you missed the memo, colours are having a bit of a moment.

Colour popularity goes through phases, like everything, and capitalising on the colours of the moment can be a particularly effective strategy when it comes to getting your audience’s attention. A fun design/colour combo really packs a punch – it’s eye-catching, timely and still functional – it can be creative but still really clear what the menu items with options grouped in a way that makes sense.

Pastels

Sometimes you want colour but not too much colour, which is why a little pastel number could do just the trick. A subtle colour accent can make it interesting and complement a relatively simple design nicely.

Baby coffee co is all about simple, elegant style with hints of wow – their menu reflects that perfectly.

Vintage

Restaurant giving off a bit of a vintage vibe? Why not tie that back in with your menu?

Ditch the white for something a bit more earthy, choose a softer font and include a muted image to add an extra interest element.

Pared down

There’s absolutely no need to pack your menu to the brim with words and over-the-top design if you don’t need to.

Small menu, or no menu at all? Keep it brief and make the length work in your favour. Short, punchy menus are striking and bold, so embrace it.

Sherwood retreat is all about helping people to relax, unwind, and not have to think – so their menu is simple, this is what we are growing, so, this is what you can eat.