Updating a la carte menus is as simple as adding an upscale, flavorful twist.
Be it a crunchy cobb salad, an ooey-gooey, two-fisted Reuben or a perfectly fried piece of fish, a la carte menus offer clubs and resorts nearly limitless potential to surprise and satisfy members and guests while also building bottom lines.
Keeping casual menus interesting takes a lot of work. Alongside must-have classics, it’s important to think outside the box and offer combinations members might not expect, but will certainly enjoy.
“Our culinary philosophy is to use the best ingredients and let them shine,” says Rob Marbs, Executive Chef at Glen Echo Country Club in Normandy, Mo.
Marbs is careful to focus on the details of his menus.
“Obviously taste and appearance are most important,” he says. “But we also look at every detail that goes into a dish including texture, plate presentation, and temperature. We also like to add simple, smart twists that take the dish to a whole new level such as trading bacon with roasted pork belly in a salad or fried cubes of polenta instead of croutons. The goal is to give our member something that they won’t see everywhere.”
One of Glen Echo’s most popular dishes is its fried chicken. “As a chef, it’s easy to get bored with things like club sandwiches, smoked salmon, and shrimp cocktail so we like to take these items, and, while maintaining the integrity of the concept, change certain elements to add interest.”
His fried chicken is a perfect example. It goes through a special marinating process, then breaded and gently fried, but never overcooked. “Another example that has become a signature dish is our baked salmon,” he says. “We take a fresh filet, rub it with our unique seasoning blend and bake it. This way it has much more flavor than a salmon dish served with capers and toast points and is enjoyed by members who wouldn’t normally eat cured uncooked fish.”
Ultimately, Marbs’ menus boil down to one common must-have element: good flavor.
“I challenge our staff to give our dishes as much flavor as they can,” he says. “Reductions, fruit or vegetable purees, mustards, infused vinegars and oils are all wonderful options. Freshly roasted and ground spices are great, too.”