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Am I the only one who peeks at the online menu prior to visiting a restaurant?

These days just about every restaurant has its menu available online. Now I've found myself constantly checking the menu to any restaurant I visit regardless of the meal (breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner).
Friends call me to meet them somewhere? I always defer to their choice, of course, but check the menu first anyway out of simple curiousity. Unless the menu is seriously out-of-date, I usually already know what I want to try or I obsess all day between this or that.

I'm starting to wonder, is it just me? Sure it lacks sense of surprise and spontenaity but it arms me with enough information and anticipation of what I'll be ordering later that day.

Frankly, I just can't. help. myself.

Oh, and I'll be eating here tonight (first-time)... Choices!


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  1. I don't think so. I do it all the time.

    p.s. The pork chop and Flatiron Steak at Duo are great!

    1. You are not alone. I love looking at menus before I visit a restaurant. At Mediterranean restaurants I love to order entress with pasta and shellfish/calamari. The menu will give me an idea of wat to expect. i love dick at Chinese retaruants, and like to see the price range of sushi at Japanese restaurants. I don't usually decide what I am getting until I get there, but it is nice to get an idea of the choices.
      IFor you dinner tonight, I think the pork chops and the duck entress look good- and the risotto fritters sound great as a starter. Enjoy!

      9 Replies
      1. re: macca

        I can't help myself-- I'm dying to know what Chinese restaurants you go to!!

        1. re: madisoneats

          A local favorite of mine is Out of Asia in Saugus ma. A few months ago, a freind took me to King Fung Garden in Chinatown for the peking duck- it was so good!. Not Chinese, but I also like the Duck Walk in Wakefiled. The stuffed chicken wing app is really good- and I like all of their duck entrees.

          1. re: macca

            I'm sorry macca--I was poking fun-- no cruel intent .... it was just a great misspelling/typo.

            1. re: madisoneats

              Duh- did not even notice the typo

              1. re: southernitalian

                They are so good. Have no idea how they do it, as when they come out, they are HUGE- they must steam them for a bit, then pull back the skin, and stuff them with spices, scallions and who knows what else- then fry them. I think I have their menu in work, and will check it out tomorrow. Will post back.But they are about two to three inches wide and two to three inches high.

                1. re: southernitalian

                  Found the menu- here is the description:
                  Marinated chicken wings in homemade herbs and spices, stuffed with chicken, shitake mushrooms, celery, onions and Thai spices wrapped with tofu skin, then deep fried.
                  So delicious- served with dipping sauce. I think I may have to get a take out order on my way home tonight.
                  As a matter of fact- I have lots of menus here at work- I guess it is kind of an obsessin with me, too. But a few Thai appetizers would make an easy, tasty dinner tonight.

            2. re: macca

              haha - Macca - you have a word mispelled in your post. I was beginning to wonder WHAT kind of Chinese restaurants you were going to???

              Popcorn - I do this all the time - even if it's a place I've been to before. You never know if they'll have new items on the menu!

              1. re: dallen

                I have new contacts on order, and I guess my eyes are not working very well. Will have to try and proff my posts until I can see again! Or than again, m aybe it was freudian slip!!

            3. are you kidding me? this is one of my all-time favorite hobbies. having access to menus only amps up my anticipation at eating at a place, and i really enjoy the anticipation. plus, i did weight watcher's for a while, so i always wanted to be able to go into a place with a game plan. also, i like to nose around and see what specific things on restaurant menus are recommended (by chowhounds and others).

              you are not alone, my friend.


              1. I do it all the time and often have already picked out what I want before I get to the restaurant. I think it's a disease...

                2 Replies
                1. re: sassygirl

                  Not only do I pick out what I'm going to have, I usually also decide what my dining companions are going to eat as well :)

                  In the Bay Area (and East Bay in particular), most of the good restaurants update at least on a monthly basis, and some change daily... sometimes I'll check out a menu for fun, and decide at the last second to go for dinner that day because I like what I see.

                  1. re: sassygirl


                    Obsessive On Line Menu Reading Disorder.

                    I suffer from it, too

                  2. I do it all the time too. I also love to look at menus posted in restaurant windows, even after I've just eaten a meal and am stuffed (my dad does this too). When my mom, who is not generally a food enthusiast, asks us how we can stand to look at a menu after we've just eaten, we reply "yeah, but we'll have to eat again."

                    Online menus are a great invention!

                    1. I never go out without looking at the menu first. I love the luxury of slowly thinking about each dish at home, and then anticipate the meal to come. Now I can enjoy the pre-meal conversation, glass of wine, ect. without interuption, and if I forget my reading glasses , it's no big deal!

                      1. If a menu is posted I always take a look, and ago in with a game plan for what I may try. Of course the plan may change once there and I hear the specials.

                        1. Oh, I do it all the time! Sometimes I'll pull up menus of places I'll never be able to afford/convince others to go with me and just drool.

                          There is this breakfast place right by my apartment that everyone raves about. I'm planning on going to it the day after the marathon. About once a week on my walk home, I walk by the place and re-read the menu. I swear, I'm more excited for that then the actual race!

                          1. Menus are my PORN, whether before an upcoming meal or just sitting at my desk imagining a future meal. they're inspiration for cooking too. friends (well, one friend) says it ruins the surprise, but luckily i have bad short term memory (even tho i too obsessively look at the menu multiple times all day before a meal) and by the time i get to the restaurant i'm pleasantly surprised by something that sounds familiar, or something that the restaurant actually added that was not on the online menu.

                            1. the flatiron steak and gnocchi look really good!
                              I love looking at menus online - one of my favorite things to do!

                              1. I do this every chance I get. I like to think about a particular meal all day, and consider what I'll order to drink with it and whether I'll have room for dessert or not - I don't mind at all if the menu turns out to be different once I get there, but I do love to obsess about the possibilities!

                                And yes, I know I'm weird. But at least I'm in good company.

                                1. Put me in the camp of "do it all the time".

                                  1. Jeez, I picked 5 items from the appitizer list! That would be dinner.

                                    Smoked Salmon 7
                                    sour cream & cucumbers with pickled onions
                                    on toasted black pumpkinseed bread

                                    Stuffed Dates 6
                                    wrapped in bacon and stuffed with goat cheese

                                    Risotto Fritters 7
                                    stuffed with shrimp & gouda and a tomato caper
                                    dipping sauce

                                    Seasonal Soup 6

                                    Arugula Salad 7
                                    walnuts, artisan blue cheese from St. Killian’s, roasted pears and warm bacon dressing

                                    I like to look at the menu before I go, but sometimes, after I get home, I look again! It might be a sickness.

                                    Oh - I found dessert, too.

                                    Lemon Caramel Icebox Cake 7
                                    layers of caramel and lemon cream topped with a brulee meringue

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: yayadave

                                      The sunnyside and the arugula salad would make me happy. both have bacon - yum.

                                    2. I do this all the time - although, I try not to get too excited, because sometimes what I've zeroed in on is not on the current menu and I'm sorely disappointed.

                                      1. Do it all the time. Part of being a hound I guess and being obseesed with food. My wife and I also do this to cut down on the wait time as more often then not we are dining with 2 hound toddlers. While they love to eat, they can get antsy.

                                        1. I love checking out menus on line. I find it very helpful when I'm dieting and trying to figure out my "Weight Watcher points" and I pre-plan what I'm going to have. It also helps when I'm on a budget so I can get a general idea of what I'm going to spend at a particular place.

                                          1. I do this all the time, too. I have to, or else my dining partners will starve to death before I finally decide what to order.

                                            1. When I travel, I'll often check out restaurants in the city in the afternoon to look at the menu, translate with phrase book if necessary before making a reservation and eating there that evening.

                                              1. I definitely do the same. I like to see what restos have to offer in terms of variety, but especially price. Being a student on a tight budget, it's helpful in keeping my finances in line.

                                                1. If it's the first time trying a place, dh and I will seek out an online menu. I suppose its our way of assuring we'll find "something" to enjoy.

                                                  Restaurant websites are a lot more interesting these days!

                                                  1. alternate camp here. i'm in the business and know very few restaurants host their own websites. frequent changes are expensive, so it's rare the on-line menu is up-to-date.

                                                    i can't tell you how many times i've had a guest complain a dish they saw on-line wasn't available. worse still is stuff written about in the paper or magazines, because the lead-time is so long.

                                                    i may peek, but i never set my heart on anything.

                                                    4 Replies
                                                    1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                      See, a lot of restaurants in the Bay Area tend to update their website at least once a week (and sometimes it's more like every day) with the changing menu, which is great for customers. Now I get annoyed when I see a clearly out of date menu on a website (or worse, no menu at all, ahem Dona Tomas), just because it's the norm around here these days.

                                                      1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                        I always look at the web site for an idea of the menu (don't particularly care if it is the current one). I'm turned off by places that have obviously not updated the menu for a few seasons. At least update every 3-4 months to give your (potential) patrons an idea of what seasonal items you might be serving!

                                                        1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                          You know, I'm sure the fact that they can't keep the menu up to date is one excuse some restaurants give for not having a web site, but come on. This is not some far out leading edge technology anymore. If you're the type of place that has a frequently changing menu, give me an example and state that it's a sample menu. Give me a few staples that are on there most of the time. Anything.

                                                          I do read menus online but that doesn't stop me from taking my time with the menu once at the restaurant. It may be different, there may be specials, they may be out of something, etc. But I want to get a feel for what to expect. That's what a web site can provide. Otherwise I might never know that I should be considering a certain place. Even a sample menu is enough to help make that decision. I sure don't need to know exactly what I'm ordering before I get there. But at least help me make the choice to go there in the first place!

                                                          1. re: CrazyOne

                                                            CrazyOne, I think you make a good point. I also like to see menus ahead of time to get a financial picture. Entree price points, wine price ranges, etc. Nothing worse than $ surprises for a first time experience. I think generally speaking a restaurant websites can be a helpful resource and when site owners take the time and trouble to create an exciting, unique website they may just earn a few intrigued customers in the process.

                                                        2. I definitely check out menus online before going to a restaurant- old or new. It helps me decide on several options, as I tend to be somewhat indecisive when it comes to ordering (I just want to eat everything, most of the time). It's a great tool- check out the prices and the style of the restaurant, especially when it's a first time visit. I do this obsessively before vacations, both when I've made reservations or just checking out places to eat in the area, and get myself excited.

                                                          1. Always. I also like to check a few reviews before going as well.

                                                            1. Nope, especially when I'm invited somewhere by someone.

                                                              1. LOVE online menus - in fact I'm kind of annoyed when a restaurant hasn't posted it! haha. I do it to try to plan my day around what I'll be eating at dinner - since I'm on weight watchers. I did it before that tho too - and I've always been the person in the office with all the menus at their desk. Just started a new collection today at my new job! :)

                                                                1. Uh-uh, I do it all the time, too, plus I check reviews, plus I check Chowhound. . . it's a definite mania!

                                                                  1. Absolutamundo.

                                                                    jfood basically has the mealplanned before he heads out the door. But please keep it a secret because jfood is ALWAYS asked what he thinks and if he needed to do this real time, the pressure would blow out his eardrums. He gives that perfunctory glances to make sure nothing has changed and confirms his choices. Then he starts to think what mrs jfood might like and that discussion begins.

                                                                    But without the on-line menus to research beforehand it would be a much more time-consuming ordering process.

                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                    1. re: jfood

                                                                      Jfood, I love ya. You sound like the 21st Century version of Sally - you know, sauce on the side Sally, from when she met Harry.

                                                                      1. re: maisonbistro

                                                                        my friends nicknamed me sally years ago for that very reason! of course, now that i can do advanced sleuthing thanks to online menus, it makes my crazy ordering process go a little more quickly :)

                                                                    2. I do the same thing!! always check them out, or on a night of just chack random restaurants. I sometimes even get annoyed when I can't fine a menu online! haha

                                                                      1. I love that there are so many of us who do this. I love to check online menus, especially when I'm going someplace new or haven't been to a particular restaurant in a while. I like to see what type of dishes to look forward to but realize that for some reason the dish may not be available when I get there. I also want to get an idea of how much I can expect to spend on the meal. Plus it's great fun!

                                                                        When we travel, my husband depends on me to have already researched the interesting places to eat. Sometimes, I print the menu so I can regale him with the list while we're driving!

                                                                        1. I always check out the on line menu and often call ahead to ask what the dinner specials will be.. I prefer to decide on a couple of choices ahead of time and then, once at the restaurant, spend more time conversing with family and/or friends.

                                                                          1. Do it all the time. I also read on-line menus of places I know I will never go.

                                                                            1. I don't understand why you're even asking this- are your friends offended by your doing this? T me it's pure common sense to check out the resto's website and menu if it's available. The question should be if you DON'T do this, and if not, what is wrong with you.

                                                                              1. Of COURSE! I'm usually looking for Something Different.

                                                                                Apropos to this topic, I'd like to know what sites people find useful to find menus if the establishment doesn't have their own website or if it isn't posted on CH.

                                                                                In descending order my favorites are

                                                                                IIRC these sites don't preload restaurant locations - if the establishment is listed, a menu is there. Very useful, just don't take the prices as gospel.