Selling the sizzle - do menu descriptions matter?

19 January 2010

Avid Bitterwallet reader James and his chums went along to their local Harvester in Thanet. Several ordered sundaes from the dessert menu, the cheeky porkers:

Bitterwallet - Harvester menu

"Devonshire toffee sauces." Mmmm. Sadly, the menu description and reality parted company at that point; there were so many people in James' party, the waitress bought the ice cream sauces to the table so they could choose their own:

Bitterwallet - ice cream sauces

Not quite as ambrosial as the description made them sound, but James was hardly expecting hand maidens to pour the nectar from bowls weaved of gold. He was, however, expecting the sauces had at least been manufactured in the South West:

Bitterwallet - where were these sauces made?

Toffee sauce from a celery factory in Aylesbury doesn't sound quite as seductive as Devon. It no doubt sells far better and the average punter paying £2.49 for a dessert wouldn't have a clue in a blind taste test, so is there any harm in marketing a product to mislead the consumer?

Of course, the ice cream may never have seen Cornwall and the chocolate probably wasn't made in Belgium - the terms are too generic to receive Protected Geographical Status within the EU to prevent any Tom, Dick and Harry knocking out similar products and slapping an irrelevant title all over them. The real question is - does it matter? If you were in James' position, would you expect to have paid for a generic bottle of E numbers or a more traditional topping as described?

13 comments

  • Morph
    stupid waitress. we all know that menu's tend to be pretentiously written bollocks, however it's good to maintain image, she might have tried thinking harder or maybe sampling product in ordre to know how to sell what they purport to be dreamy regional delights rather than coughed up tramp sputum.
  • James
    Ha ha, top work Harvester. Seeing as most of the food you offer sits at the bottom of the culinary spectrum why bother making up Devonshire toffee when Butterscotch is much more in keeping.
  • David
    Harvester are shite, what dick of a Restaurant/Kitchen manager would let a waitress take these out to the table? fuckin idiots.
  • Nobby
    I really hope that one of them laid on the table, while the others squeezed the whole lot into their mouth.
  • The B.
    Seriously, it's a friggin' Harvester, what did he expect exactly, you're lucky if you some steak with your gristle.
  • IfYouCopyMyNameYouAreGayIsGay
    I personally would have filled the wine glass up.
  • PaulH
    The chilli ribs at harvester at awesome!...
  • Mr G.
    It's a frickin' Harvester - he's luckily they didn't squeeze a rabid mongrel's arse onto his frozen marge "ice-cream". BTW, did you know that to call a product "ice cream" it has to have OVER a certain level of fat in it - but it doesn't matter what kind of fat you use. Ever noticed how there's a liposuction clinic next to every Walls Ice Cream factory*? It's enough to make your blood boil! * no, me neither
  • Mr G.
    Erm... that's "lucky" not "luckily", of course
  • Mark
    Its a harvester - its chav food - what do you people expect for £2.49??????? Grow a pair and report on something worth reporting - the fact this shocked someone so much they had to take a photo beggars belief as well.....If thats as bad as your day gets you should be pretty happy !!
  • Wibble
    Where's Devonshire? It could well be part of the factory in Aylesbury.
    • Andy D.
      Anyone remember Alan Devonshire, the former West Ham midfielder? He's the source of the sauce. Possibly.
  • Jase
    I think the point of this article is the idea of "passing off". Yes, these set of restaurants are cheap, but they have to adhere to the same basic standards. No matter what quality the food is (or lack of it), you can't just sell something and pass it off as another. Ever wonder why a server at these kind of restaurant says "its Pepsi, is that ok?" when you ask for a Coke? (they should if they don't) It's because if they didn't, they'd be serving Pepsi when the customer is expecting a Coke. It can land business in a lot of trouble. @Mark...yeah, its a little sad, but I think the point of taking the picture is because the waitress actually brought the bottle out to the table! Classy place!

What do you think?

Connect with Facebook, Twitter, or just enter your email to sign in and comment.

Your comment