Whether you’re looking for a new lunch spot, a place to take clients, or just a good go-to place when you want a quick bite, the common factor you’re looking for is a winning bar menu. How can you tell which is the best bar food restaurant in Melbourne, Sydney, or wherever you are? What are the signs to look for?
Here are some key things to look out for when trying to confirm a great bar menu:
1. Fresh, Local Ingredients
The first hallmark you should seek is the presence of fresh, local and seasonal ingredients (see below for more on seasonal items). When a restaurant buys local produce, meat, and seafood, it means a number of positive things are true.
First, it means that this restaurant is supporting local vendors as much as possible, thus helping the local economy and community to thrive. Second, it means that the food you are eating is fresher, because it hasn’t had to travel as far in order to be prepared and put onto your plate. Third, it means that this restaurant is therefore even managing to lower its carbon footprint by sourcing locally, reducing CO2 emissions that would otherwise be used to transport goods from further away.
2. Seasonal Options
Seasonal food being on the menu is another important factor in a good bar menu. Why? Seasonal ingredients are fresher and tastier, for one, but it also means that the restaurant is operating more sustainably, and that your bill at the end will likely not be so exorbitant. If a fruit like strawberries are not in season locally, but there is still demand for strawberries, then they have to be brought in from further afield, and that costs money.
In addition, seasonal items on the menu suggest that the menu is updated seasonally, which means if you keep coming back, you’ll be treated to fresh new creations as the months come and go.
3. Something for Everyone
A menu that includes dishes everyone can enjoy is a truly great one. If you’re eating alone, you can just pick any menu that has even one thing you like on it. You only need to like one thing on the menu in order to enjoy it, right? If you’re in a group, however, it’s important to have meat for the meat lovers, as well as vegetarian and vegan options, lighter options for those who aren’t overly hungry, gluten-free options, and so on.
No bar menu can make absolutely everyone happy. That’s just a fact of life. However, the more inclusive a restaurant has made their bar menu, the better it really is.
4. Healthy Portion Sizes
Try to get a look at food that’s being delivered and see how the portion sizes are. On a bar menu, portions should be fairly generous, but not overwhelming. What it should not be is snooty nouvelle-cuisine style with big empty plates and a sprig of something colouring up one corner. Slightly smaller portions can be good because it means you can try more things, but you need a nice balance of satisfying toothsome plates of food without being overly pretentious.
5. Great Reviews
While you may not take everyone’s word as gospel truth, it’s always worth checking out the recent reviews for any restaurant you’re going to try. Some negative reviews may well be written out of spite or pure bloody-mindedness, but when you see common themes arising in different reviews, it’s a clear sign that the menu might not be great, or even the service, or atmosphere.