Press Release

Menu Jargon Confounds American Diners

June 7, 2016

SAN FRANCISCO, June 7, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- OpenTable, the world's leading provider of online restaurant reservations and part of The Priceline Group (NASDAQ: PCLN), today announced the findings of its menu jargon research survey conducted online by Harris Poll, which revealed many diners* believe some restaurant menus are more confusing than they need to be (29%), are concerned that ordering a menu item made with an unfamiliar ingredient will ruin their dining experience (56%), or feel they will be wasting their money if they don't enjoy their meal (74%).  

OpenTable Menu Jargon Decoder

The survey findings also revealed several menu terms that more than half of diners do not know the meaning of, and inspired the OpenTable design team to work with a select group of illustrators to create a visual Menu Jargon Decoder to demystify the visualization, meaning, and pronunciation of confusing menu terms.

"With chefs continuing to scour the globe for unique dish ingredients and cookbooks to revive forgotten techniques, it is understandable that many diners may be confounded by certain terms on a menu," said OpenTable Chief Dining Officer, Caroline Potter.  "While two-thirds of diners aren't embarrassed by their confusion and are typically happy to ask their server for a little guidance, with all the passion and energy that chefs and restaurateurs put into the creation of their menus, they should be aware that one in five diners simply won't order a menu item with a description they don't understand."

The survey, which was conducted online by Harris Poll in March 2016 on behalf of OpenTable, found that an overwhelming majority of diners (91%) say they are more likely to order a dish they are not familiar with if it has additional menu features. Diners also indicated that the future for digital menus may be bright with more than half saying photos of the menu items (53%) or a glossary of menu terminology (30%) would make them more likely to order a dish they are not familiar with.  

According to the survey, at least half of diners say they do not understand the following menu terms, in ranking order:

1.      Okonomiyaki (o-konomi-yaki) -69%

2.      Gochujang (go-choo-jang) -67%

3.      Piri piri (pir-ree-pir-ree) -64%

4.      Yuzu (yoo-zoo) -64%

5.      Bibimbap (bi-bim-bop) -64%

6.      Gougere (ɡo͞oˈZHer) -63%

7.      Guanciale (gwan-cha-lay) -62%

8.      Shiso (SHēsō) -62%

9.      En brodo (en BROH/doh) -61%

10.  Ballotine (bal- -teen) -61%

11.  Harissa (hah-ree-suh) -60%

12.  Patatas bravas (pəˌtɑːtəs ˈbrɑːvəs) -58%

13.  Meuniere (muh n-yair) -58%

14.  En papillote (ahn pa-pee-yawt) -57%

15.  A la plancha (ä lə ˈplän(t)SHə) -55%

16.  Lardo (lar-do) -55%

17.  Romesco (ruˈmesku) -55%

18.  Amuse bouche (ah-mooz-boosh) -55%

19.  Primi (pri-mi)  -54%

20.  Pavlova (pav-luh-vuh) -54%

21.  Crudo (kruːdo) -54%

22.  Croustade (kroo-stahd) -52%

23.  Semifreddo (semi - freddo) -51%

24.  Terrine (tuh-reen) -51%

25.  Cremeux (kʀemø, øz) -50%

For additional perspective and insight on the menu jargon research findings and artists and designers behind the Menu Jargon Decoder visit The OpenTable Blog. Restaurateurs wanting more insights, tips and advice related to the research and the creation of the perfect menu can visit The OpenTable Open for Business Blog.

*Diners in this release are defined as diners who dine out at least once per month.

Survey Methodology:

This survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Poll on behalf of Open Table from March 21-23, 2016 among 2,035 U.S. adults ages 18 and older, among whom 1,256 dine out at least once per month. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables, please contact Lisa Singh (

About OpenTable
OpenTable, part of The Priceline Group (NASDAQ: PCLN), is the world's leading provider of online restaurant reservations, seating more than 19 million diners per month via online bookings across more than 37,000 restaurants. The OpenTable network connects restaurants and diners, helping diners discover and book the perfect table and helping restaurants deliver personalized hospitality to keep guests coming back. The OpenTable service enables diners to see which restaurants have available tables, select a restaurant based on verified diner reviews, menus, and other helpful information, and easily book a reservation. In addition to the company's website and mobile apps, OpenTable powers online reservations for nearly 600 partners, including many of the Internet's most popular global and local brands. For restaurants, the OpenTable hospitality solutions enable them to manage their reservation book, streamline their operations, and enhance their service levels. Since its inception in 1998, OpenTable has seated more than one billion diners around the world.  The Company is headquartered in San Francisco, California, and the OpenTable service is available throughout the United States, as well as in Australia, Canada, Germany, Ireland, Japan, Mexico, and the UK.

OpenTable,, OpenTable logos, toptable and other
service names are the trademarks of OpenTable, Inc. and/or its affiliates

OpenTable Menu Jargon Decoder
OpenTable Menu Jargon Decoder
OpenTable Menu Jargon Decoder
OpenTable Menu Jargon Decoder
OpenTable logo (PRNewsFoto/OpenTable)

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SOURCE OpenTable

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