‘Menu-Hacking’ Picky Eaters Are Taking Over Britain’s Restaurants

A new survey of British diners has found that 57 percent would ask for a dish to be adapted when eating out and 28 percent order dishes that aren't even on offer. Apparently it’s called “menu hacking.”
Phoebe Hurst
London, United Kingdom
April 8, 2016, 12:35pm
Photo via Flickr user SergioDelgado

There was a time when dining at a restaurant meant eating what you were given for fear of being scolded by your mum if you didn't. Don't like your carbonara? Well, you ordered it and we're paying for it, so you'll damn well sit here and chew like you're enjoying yourself.

Or it meant smiling through a partially heated risotto, not daring to send it back to the kitchen and have your date think you're a control freak with no manners.

READ MORE: People Don't Know How to Order in Restaurants Anymore

But according to a new study from OpenTable, Brits are putting aside these combined fears of complaining, appearing rude, and making a scene when eating out in favour of ordering whatever the hell they want.

In a survey of British diners, the restaurant booking service found that 57 percent would ask for a dish to be adapted when eating out and 28 percent would order dishes that weren't even on the menu. This When Sally Met Harry ordering style has been dubbed "menu-hacking."

While some diners chose to hack their dinner by adding extras or swapping for healthier ingredient options, the survey found that most just wanted to ask for dishes with certain bits taken out. The item most frequently requested to be removed was sauce, followed by mushrooms, meat, seafood, and vegetables.

Could "menu-hacker" just be another name for "picky eater"?

READ MORE: You Might Be a Guest in My Restaurant, But I'm in Charge

Despite how annoying it must be to make a no-mushroom-no-tomato-no-prawn paella, it seems Britain's chefs are happy to accommodate our increasingly needy eating habits. The study also reported that 94 percent of restaurants would customise dishes to suit diners' tastes.

Speaking to The Daily Telegraph on the findings, Fred Sirieix, general manager at London's Galvin at Windows restaurant and cliche-spouting TV dating show host said: "It happens very regularly, people have dietary requirements or things they don't want to eat. It's not a big deal, I think its good service and good manners. Long gone are the days when a chef would cook something a certain way and there was no budging from that. The guest is king now and that is important."

Just don't tell your "broccoli allergic" ten-year-old cousin.