Selling Desserts in Pubs (page 2)

We All Eat With Our Eyes First

It may be a cliché, but customers really do eat with their eyes; so making your dessert visually appealing is as important as taste, texture, smell or quality. One cannot underestimate the impact of a temptingly presented dish as it makes its way past other diners to a table will have on prompting those diners to order “something from the sweet trolley”.


A vibrant pallet of colour on the plate acts as the all important visual stimulus you are trying to create and also helps bring to life the culinary flavour experience in your customer’s mouth. The browns of chocolate for example create a warm, harmonious taste, yellows promise a fresh and zesty aroma, while reds are fiery and piquant. Try and avoid artificial colourings at all times unless you are producing a “novelty” dessert for an event such as Hallowe’en.


Keep your presentation uncluttered to show your product in its best light. For a touch of elegance even the simplest of forms, such as a chocolate curl draped over the top of a chocolate mousse will create the “wow factor” and a great way of keeping the plate clean and sharp is to present the garnish within the sauce. 


Remember that tableware has a big impact on presentation. White-ware provides a blank canvas, while contemporary options such as glass plates can provide a modern feel and for the more traditional feel glass dishes such as split or sundae dishes really allow the food to do the talking not the pattern on the plate.  

Unusual Shapes

Puddings don’t have to be round or tray baked, so don’t be afraid to experiment with domes, rectangles and teardrops, try using moulds with a dip in the top that can be filled with sauce or scoop ice-cream on top. Your catering equipment supplier will have a wide range of unusual moulds to choose from. Adults are quite happy to release their “inner child” in appreciation of novel presentation.  

Top Tip – if you have a separate dining room or sufficient space in your bar then an upright chilled display cabinet is the perfect way to tempt diners and show potential diners the treats you have in store for them. Items such as cheesecake with a portion cut out gives a subliminal message to diners that someone has already indulged so it’s okay for them to dig in too. Remember, as with all chilled display your HACCP and procedure for displaying chilled foods.

Sell, Sell, Sell…

There’s precious little point in going to all the trouble of creating a fantastic dessert menu if you don’t make sure your front of house staff know how to sell it.

Make it part of your service regime for waiting staff to place the dessert menu right into the hands of your customers when they clear main courses, whilst talking about the fabulous line up of desserts. Complement this with dessert menus that bring your selection to life with descriptions of ingredients used and flavour combinations and clearly marked specials boards if you are offering daily specials for desserts and puddings. Make sure you keep a dessert wine, port and liqueurs in stock as additional up-selling points and of course, if any of your ales are particularly suited to a specific dessert, recommend a beer as the perfect accompaniment.

For those of you who stock cask ales there’s one further up-selling opportunity and that’s the increasingly fashionable pairing of ale to cheese… check the website in October 2013 for the upcoming Beer and Food Pairing article, which includes a detailed look at cheese and beer matches.

Top Tip – by appealing to the widest range of tastes and taking into account diner needs such as lacto-intolerance you are, in effect, taking away the customer’s reasons not to have a pudding and therein lies your (and your staff’s) opportunity to upsell. Even those with the least sales skills should be able to identify customers who, with a little gentle prodding, will give in to their desire for a treat; often it only takes one diner in a group to succumb to temptation to open the sales opportunity up for the whole group.

If you are a family-friendly venue then never ask children if they want a pudding before asking for their parents’ order, you should not be seen to be subverting the parents’ decision over what their children eat. The last thing you need is to be seen as adding to the pester power of their kids… more likely the parents will remember the ‘favour’ you’ve done them the next time they are thinking of taking the family out for a pub meal and choose your pub.


Remember for many diners, the lasting memory of their dining experience in your pub is often the dessert. By focusing on quality of ingredients, broad appeal of the menu and show stopping presentation, you and your team will be doing everything you can to leave a lasting impression that will encourage them to indulge time and again and more importantly create a talking point from which their recommendation of your pub to their friends and family will be readily forthcoming.

Continue reading… page 1

Back to Kitchen & Food