If the Sunday roast dinner was a movie, the meat would be the lead. So make it an Oscar winner and give customers something to talk about with these nine ideas.
Want to increase sunday roast covers in your pub? Here's how to give your food the edge.
1. Invest in a dry maturation fridge
Leroy Allan, head chef at the Larwood & Voce which won Best British Roast Dinner 2015 purchased a dry maturation fridge especially for their beef.
“It gives customers more choice. The meat goes into the fridge for between 35 and 90 days. The longer it matures for, the stronger the flavour and the more tender and buttery it becomes.
“It’s helped us increase variation in our roast dinner offer as we rotate our beef. One week we can offer a 60 day aged cut, the next a 90 day option.”
2. Try a new breed
If a maturation fridge is slightly out of budget right now, experimenting with where your meat comes from can also be a winner, as Leroy has discovered.
“We’ve experimented with different breeds too – everything from Dexter and Aberdeen Angus through to Long Horn and Galloway. The customers love finding out about our meat.”
3. Source your meat locally
Aaron Goodman, manager of the Fox & Hounds in Riseley, Bedfordshire, says local sourcing is a big driver of sales.
“Everyone likes that because we are surrounded by farmers here and it’s tradition that our pub gets the produce from them.”
4. Offer a ‘carve your own’ option to give customers an experience
The Old Red Cow in Smithfield, London - part of pub group Pubs of Distinction is taking the “carve your own roast” idea to the next level with great success.
A ‘bespoke’ menu, which must be pre-booked, means customers can order anything from a roast leg of lamb to share, to a whole suckling pig.
“The idea is based around the idea of eating with your family at the table with everyone sharing from the centre of the table,” explains Andrew Weir, marketing manager.
“It is a real talking point. A showpiece. When the dishes come down from the kitchen there is a genuine wow factor. Lots of people eating on nearby tables have booked on the back of seeing others eating from the bespoke menu.”
If you’re wondering how to price up such a menu, the pub says it’s best to consider a feasible price per head and work from there.
Andrew explains: “Dishes are priced as a whole and so it changes from dish to dish but we like it to work out so the average price per head is close to what one might expect to pay for an a la carte course.”
5. Cater for special diets
Research by Coeliac UK revealed that 80 per cent of surveyed members said their need for safe, gluten-free options determines where they eat when dining out with a group.
Jason Rodriques, commercial manager at Nestlé Professional says: “Combatting cross-contamination is vital to ensure those with coeliac disease are able to enjoy their favourite pub meals – whether it’s using separate butter and condiment containers to prevent crumb contamination, or using colour coded gloves for preparation of gluten free menu items.”
6. Give the people what they want
Research shows consumers expect three slices of meat, three roast potatoes and two Yorkshire puddings.
7. Celebrate seasonality
Seasonal meats like pheasant and partridge are often cheaper than other meats when in season and they will help you stand out from the competition.
8. Let people serve their own gravy
We Brits love our gravy and there’s nothing worse than not having enough gravy – so give customers their own gravy boat brimming with it
9. Serve Yorkshire puddings with every roast
85 per cent of people want a Yorkshire pudding with every roast
With thanks to Unilever Food Solutions’ pub expert Chris Barber for tips six to nine.
Want to try something even more controversial? How about putting your roast dinner into a burger like The Rockstone pub in Southampton? See here.