How the restaurant business works is a fascinating subject. I guess we all learn several truths about restaurants as we grow up. For example:
- Chain restaurants offer consistency. When you're in a strange place, the neon sign of a familiar chain tells you: "Come here... it's safe... it's familiar.... it's not scary". That's valuable
- Restaurants in fantastic locations don't need to try very hard. And rarely do.
- Restaurants with large plastic or laminated menus are unlikely to specialise in seasonal or fresh produce :-)
But Andrew is asking something slightly different: how many items should be on the menu?
I think the extreme cases are easy to answer. Very posh restaurants typically prepare a new menu every day and there are only one or two choices for each part of the meal. They clearly want their customers to believe that everything has been prepared freshly that day. Restaurants with massive menus clearly cannot have bought all possible items freshly that day: they would go bust within the week. Therefore, you must assume there is a degree of reheating and freezing to be expected.
I guess the problem is: fresh doesn't mean better; frozen doesn't mean worse.
Therefore, contrary to what I thought I'd write at the beginning of this post, I no longer believe the size of a menu is a reliable predictor of restaurant quality. I guess relying on recommendation remains the best way to go.