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How important are online menus to you?

I'm wondering when you look at online menus? Whenever you pick a new restaurant? When planning a trip? To pre-plan a nice night out?

Personally I search for specific menu items when I have a craving for something specific, but what about you?

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  1. I mostly look at online menus to meal plan at home and "reverse engineer" dishes I like. I bookmark them and plan my meals for the week.
    Otherwise, I sometimes look at them when trip planning, but not so much for what I would order, but for the cost of the different tasting menu options.
    Many really terrific restaurants don't update the menus often enough and on more than a few occasions, I have been surprised.

    1. I check out the menus regularly to see if the restaurant fits our budget, our dietary needs, serves alcohol, etc. I often decide against a restaurant if I can't preview their menu online.

      1 Reply
      1. re: ola

        While I have made several "leaps of faith," I am with you.

        If we arrive late, and only have so many choices, I live with it, but if we arrive early, then I search for menus, that fit our tastes, to the best of my abilities.

        Hunt

      2. I read them all the time. The way some people read sports scores or stock prices, I read online menus. Just to see what's out there.

        7 Replies
        1. re: small h

          Any particular sites or do you just go to the reataurants' home pages?

          1. re: jgradieoakes

            The restaurant's website is my first stop. If there are no prices listed, I'll also check Menupages. Are you doing research for an article or a business?

          2. re: small h

            HAHAHA!!! I thought I was the only one who did this. I am obsessed! You can tell how stressed out I am by the number of menus I read. :)

            UGH this was supposed to be in response to small h.

            1. re: justme123

              Not only do I survey menus, but the wine lists, as well. Now, I know that vintages might change, and even availability will disappear, a wine list will give me a good idea about the restaurant's commitment to wine with their food.

              As we often host dinners abroad, I always want to see a wine list, with a menu, and when it's on a Web site, so much the better. Sometimes, however, I have to get a PDF, to make the choices.

              Hunt

            2. re: small h

              Ha! I thouight I was the only one that did that, small h.

              1. re: EWSflash

                There are a lot of reasons for it. It's a good way to procrastinate, obviously, and I'm always grateful for options in that area. It keeps me abreast of menu trends. It gives me ideas for things to cook at home that I might not have come up with otherwise. And it's a way to live vicariously through those whose wallets are fatter than mine (and whose hips are skinnier).

                1. re: small h

                  LOL- I agree completely, small h- sometimes you can make that dish at home, but mostly it relieves Menu Shock, where one can't decide for being left out on the best dish. I admit it's dumb, but I dont' get to dine out much and I like to do some research when possible.

            3. Because I have a couple of dietary restrictions I really appreciate online menus. Its so much easier to find out what my choices are ahead of time and not have it be any kind of issue while my order is being taken.

              1 Reply
              1. re: weezieduzzit

                Same here. Between dietary restrictions and being picky, I like to have an idea of what's available ahead of time. If they don't have exactly the same item that's on the website, there will usually be something close enough to make me happy.

              2. I like to see them as a reference, but many restaurants around here are seasonal, and don't always update. It's not a huge thing, mildly irritating.

                I like them to either order delivery, or to try a new restaurant.

                1. Huge.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: sal_acid

                    +1 And they MUST be up to date. I really, really hate it when I plan what to get based on the website's menu and get there and it's totally different.

                    1. re: rockandroller1

                      I agree unless it says sample menu. One of my favorite places updates weekly which I love!

                      1. re: rockandroller1

                        What about a restaurant that changes its menu daily?

                        1. re: majormajor22

                          The better restaurants will change the menus on their sites daily as well. Our favorites here in NYC do. Otherwise, as melpy said, it should say "sample menu."

                    2. I'll check them out when considering a new place (new to me anyway), when trying to decide between two or several different restaurants or, when I know where we're going, to have an idea of what I may want to order because otherwise I could take a long time deciding at the restaurant itself. Also, as you mentioned, if I'm looking for something particular and want to see which restaurant has it.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: Jasz

                        Time is a big issue for me, too. With four kids, it helps to know the menu ahead of time and just give each of them a couple options when we go out as a family. And I take forever to pick what I want!

                        1. re: SAHCook

                          I love this. Where do you usually look at menus? On a restaurant's site or another page?

                        2. re: Jasz

                          Ditto for me.

                        3. I'm looking for options when I'm traveling, so a menu gives me a notion of whether it's worth a detour. I especially appreciate a map and directions.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: sr44

                            What sites do you use when you travel? Are they the same you use locally? How accurate do you assume online menus to be?

                            1. re: jgradieoakes

                              I mostly use Chowhound, although I sometimes venture into Yelp. I just got a couple of possibilities for the wasteland between Erie and Pittsburgh from Chowhound. Ideally, the menu should reflect what is being served, but I find it a good indication of the tone of the place. There are also issues around when I will be in the vicinity: do they serve lunch or just dinner?

                          2. I use them a bit. Sometimes to decide whether to try a place I've not been too. More often if I'm dining with a group. I often study the menu ahead of time and have several things in mind as possibilities. Very helpful when I'm busy chatting and it is hard to look closely at a menu.

                            Pet peeve: Restaurants participating in a Groupon, etc. offering and not having a menu posted on line. If I can't see the menu and have heard nothing about the place I'm not going to purchase the deal!

                            1. I read them all the time - but in a total food fantasy way. Jerusalem is a city that suffers greatly from restaurant menu fatigue and so I love reading menus from restaurants to be inspired by new food or also 'traditional' foods that I don't have regular access to.

                              1. Online menus are very important to us.We want to be able to look and see if a restaurant is something we would be interested in dining at prior to planning a trip there. Unless a friend or family etc.has raved about a place and given me specifics about certain dishes they believe we would enjoy then yes I want access to the menu and the reataurant photo gallery to see if it appears to be worth my time money and attention.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Lillipop

                                  Great point. Looking at a menu really helps you understand the concept of a place, even if the menu changes a lot and isn't up to date.

                                2. I read them whenever we travel for sure. If I can't find a menu for a place we usually don't go. One of us has dietary restrictions and often we're travelling for hockey with 16 yr. olds so we need to take that into account as well. I'll look locally on occasion with a new restaurant.

                                  1. I use them, especially when traveling and trying to decide on a place to eat.
                                    I used the McD's online menu to see if they had smoothies last week (they do). I'm not feeling great and hubby went to pick up b'fast for us. He got to the drive through, and they told him they didn't have smoothies! aarg. Good thing BK is in the same area!

                                    1. A couple of restaurants I like post their special menu items on their website, if i've had a hankering for corned beef and cabbage or roast pork I might check to see if anyone has that during a given week. Other times I'm just not sure what sounds good, but scrolling thru a few on line menus I suddenly realized what sounds good, kind of like standing in front of an open refrigerator. At first nothing looks good, then your eye settles on something. Finally as the 'resident foodie' in my friendship group I'm often asked where we should go for something. A lot of times I know, but its good to check out the menus of a few suspects and not only make sure its there, but what other places have it.

                                      1. all.the.time. :)

                                        1. They are fun to look at and make for a fascinating hobby, but not important at all. If a place is near me and easy enough to visit, I will do so regardless of any preconceived notions. If a place is far and takes some effort, I am most likely to rely on Chowhound and some other sources for clues about cost and content.

                                          I also don't like seeing pictures of places I plan on traveling to. So I avoid those Eyewitness guides with lots of color photos on every page.

                                          I guess I enjoy being surprised.

                                          1. Online menu is very important to me. If it's an area or restaurant I'm unfamiliar with, I will immediately dismiss any without an online menu.

                                            I use them to determine general price point and look to see what variety they have and the general way dishes are prepared. I don't expect the online menu to be exactly the same as what's currently in the restaurant; but I do expect them to be similar. If it is updated daily or weekly, all the better, but it's not critical.

                                            I use the restaurant's websites because I'm also looking for hours, address (it is shocking how many sites don't include these) and to get a feel for atmosphere.

                                            I will add though that I usually just do this for nicer dinners. For a casual meal, I'm more willing to take a shot in the dark and just show up. Especially if fellow chowhounds have given a place a thumbs up.

                                            These days though with the availability of websites, social media, etc, I find it almost unforgivable for a restaurant not to have a website or Facebook page.

                                            1. We use them pretty often at our house.

                                              1. I look at online menus whenever I visit a restaurant.

                                                Online menus are also critical for my job. I coordinate food orders for our crews and need an accurate menu to do so. Prices on menus are also important. I can understand and work with a menu that isnt totally up to dat, but I need an idea of pricing and available food.

                                                I agree with the comments expressing surprise at the number of restaurants with an inadequate web presence. (Menu, hours, prices, address) I just don't visit those establishments. The only time I do is if I'm in a small town and there are no other options around.

                                                1. I will read them just to reminisce, to meal plan, to choose which place I want to go, to compare prices. I'm rather obsessed. I it is a new place I will pore over the menu before going. If you don't have a menu I am somewhat loathe to go unless I have heard about you from reliable sources.

                                                  1. I'm a dedicated menu reader. Doesnt matter if its a place near home, somewhere further away or somewhere in another country that we were planning to visit.

                                                    I read....I lust...I reserve...I eat.

                                                    Research is everything to getting a good dinner.

                                                    I will even be happy with a place displaying a "sample menu". It will give me a clue as to the cuisine and whether I want to eat there on my trip to that town or eat at the next place.

                                                    1. I read online menus all the time, especially in trying to decide where to eat on any given evening, or even for lunch.

                                                      If a restaurant doesn't have a current menu online I am much less likely to patronize that establishment.

                                                      4 Replies
                                                      1. re: MonMauler

                                                        But doesn't that mean that they change their menu at least seasonally if not daily?

                                                        1. re: majormajor22

                                                          Around here, the local restaurants who offer seasonal menus & also have the business savvy & courtesy to post their menus online, provide a seasonal "sample" menu, to give an idea of what might be offered during each season.

                                                          It's better than nothing, & gives a prospective diner an idea of the offerings.

                                                          1. re: Bacardi1

                                                            For sure. You can't update every day but you can definitely give an idea about what's going on at the restaurant. That's certainly the case, as it should be.

                                                            1. re: majormajor22

                                                              Yes. Even. The places near me that do change their menu daily will post a seasonal "sample" menu. If they do, that's good enough for me. If they don't, I don't patronize their establishment. If a menu from 5 years ago is not representative of what a place serves, then ill go down the road to some other place.

                                                              It's just good business...keeping an updated menu online. If a restaurant isn't capable of that I don't trust their ability to execute any of the dishes they might have on their mystery menu.

                                                      2. Imperative, especially when traveling on business. I usualy use urban spoon or the like to find a menu.

                                                        When traveling for pleasure they are a "nice to have" but half the fun of traveling is finding those off the beaten track type place based on where we are that day/hour.

                                                        1. I will be more likely to choose a restaurant that shows it's menu online over one that doesn't because that way i have an idea of what to expect in terms of food, and also in terms of pricing.

                                                          I'm not the kind of person who will choose what i'll eat days before going to a restaurant based on an online menu, but on the other hand, i won't go to a meat centric restaurant with someone who prefers fish!

                                                          1. Pretty important for me, as someone who eats pretty healthy and recently lost a lot of weight. I like to study the menu, figure out nutrition values etc, so I have a "plan" when I go in. If I don't/can't do that my willpower is gone and I order whatever sounds good, which is almost never healthy. Also I'm on a budget so I like to make sure I'm not walking into a place where I'll blow my entire month's restaurant budget on one meal.

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: juliejulez

                                                              I agree on both points: nutritional numbers and price numbers. I'm a Lifer on Weight Watchers, so I can look up the Points+ and make semi-informed decisions ahead of time (unless we're on vacation, then all bets are off). I also like to have some notion of the costs before having menu sticker shock tableside.

                                                            2. I have celiac disease and I'm intolerant to soy, so it's essential for me to see the menu first to know if I'll be able to dine there safely...particularly since more and more places these days have strict "no substitutions or modifications" policies. The one exception would be a standard steak house - I can always find plenty of options, so it's just a matter of confirming that the kitchen can keep my food free from contamination.

                                                              Dietary restrictions aside, I love to check out menus anyway to see if the food is exciting. I rarely eat out anymore, so when I do I want it to be different & special.

                                                              1. I LOVE looking at online menus!!

                                                                Even if they're not up-to-date, they still give me an idea of the restaurant's offerings/preparations - particularly with restaurants serving ethnic fare (Italian, Asian, Indian, etc.). One can get a pretty accurate picture of whether or not a restaurant is into authentic or "beyond the norm" cooking, or just the usual Americanized stuff. And I'm not snobby - sometimes I'm LOOKING for the "usual Americanized stuff" - lol!!

                                                                In addition, if I'm looking to order takeout, it's especially nice to be able to call up a menu online instead of going through my eternally-messy "Takeout Menus/Appliance Manuals" drawer looking for what I hope is a fairly current menu.

                                                                1. Whenever I'm planning to go out for dinner and considering places I've never been to before. Online menus are invaluable not just for showing what's on offer but telling what they will cost. They have no relevance to what I cook at home.

                                                                  1. Just to see what's in the area for when I get a craving for something...and to try a place I haven't be to before. I've got my favorites, but like to see what else is out there. Like watching TV...women like to see what's on...men like to see what ELSE is on (ala Seinfeld).

                                                                    1. l must look at an online menu before going to a restaurant. My choices are very menu specific and l see the usual subjects of salmon, steak, lamb chops, tillapia, sole, and chicken regardless of how go the review of the place, it is unlikely l will go. l cook very well and those items l can cook for myself and friends just fine.
                                                                      Sushi, Chinese, odd breeds of pork, unusual seafood, risotto, tapioca preps, vegetables done in unusual ways, these will bring me running. Sometimes l like them sometimes not, but will always try dishes listed that are out of the box.

                                                                      1. I use them quite often, and sort of dislike it, when some sort of menu is not available.

                                                                        As we travel about 200 days per year, we find ourselves in all sorts of cities, and many of those, we've never traveled to before. A bit of help can go a long way.

                                                                        Same thing for "hotel dining," as we often are arriving late, and leaving early, and to have some idea of what the various restaurants, bistros, bars have to offer, can be helpful.

                                                                        With some of our "old faves," I like to see how the menu might have changed, on a "seasonal" basis. This can be especially true for restaurants in cities, that we travel to often. I normally like to see something different, from our last trip.

                                                                        Some are just better than others.

                                                                        As for pre-planning dining on a trip - yes, and usually 2 - 6 mos. out. We are booking for Dec. 2013 now.

                                                                        Hunt

                                                                        1. With a few exceptions (e.g. Saison, é or Urasawa), are there actually restaurants with operational websites that do not have online menus?

                                                                          Like I said with exceptions for restaurants that do seasonal, rotational tasting menus or exclusive omakase, I would be very suspicious of a restaurant with a website that doesn't have a menu.

                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                          1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                            Unfortunately, yes. In the US, there are several, that I have encountered in just the last few mos. Most of those WERE at hotels/resorts, but enough for me to take notice.

                                                                            Hunt

                                                                          2. Generally, it's important if I'm not familiar with the restaurant and I want to get an idea of what they serve, and how much it costs.

                                                                            It's also important if I'm picking a restaurant where I'm picking up the tab, because I want to know what the upper end of the price range is, as I won't have control over what my guests order.

                                                                            1. Well, it gives me a great idea about what the place has, especially if they've changed it recently. If they're smart, they'll keep it updated and post the current prices.

                                                                              1. For when I wasn't just looking for a "hamburger," I used to use menupages to search menus by specific food.

                                                                                Living abroad has made me yearn for things that even NYC's menupages (to be fair, Queens is only a recent addition) won't cough up, so I end up searching for food in the primary language of the dish's origin.

                                                                                1. It really helps me access what I'll be getting myself into. I can be indecisive at times because I love food! So then I get a better understanding of what I might want.

                                                                                  Other reasons
                                                                                  When going with a friend who says, "can we go somewhere good but not too expensive" It helps to have prices but it's not necessary all the time

                                                                                  When wanting to recall the ingredients for talking about it on chowhound.

                                                                                  trying to make the dish at home.

                                                                                  1. When we are planning to go to a restaurant for the first time I always like to browse a menu to gat a vibe for the food.
                                                                                    With or without prices is not so important.

                                                                                    9 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: Motosport

                                                                                      I always read menus on-line, especially when a new restaurant opens in the area and I want to get a feel for their offerings.

                                                                                      On a side note, I am very dismayed by the seemingly current trend for restaurants to just use Facebook to post their menus. I think that is extremely short-sighted, as the whole world does not do Facebook (although I realize that I am in the minority).

                                                                                      1. re: ksbee

                                                                                        Well, we are together in that.

                                                                                        Hunt

                                                                                        1. re: ksbee

                                                                                          Agree 100%! There is a place for Facebook but any restaurant especially a new place should have a web page and a menu posted. It's part of doing business in this new age.
                                                                                          If I see or hear of a new place I'll Google it expecting to find a web site and some reviews by the "usual suspects"

                                                                                          1. re: ksbee

                                                                                            I also COMPLETELY agree with you this re: this. I'm one of the many who do not, have not, or will EVER join "Facebook" or any of the infamous "social media" sites.

                                                                                            Thus, if you're a business & are too lazy to put out an internet presence outside of Facebook, you won't be getting my $$.

                                                                                            1. re: Bacardi1

                                                                                              Tru dat

                                                                                              1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                                                                                                Quite frankly I find some of these responses absurd and babyish.

                                                                                                Let me remind you that Rogue 24 has no online menu or even a functioning website! These days there is so much information available about chefs and restaurants that, as much as I love looking at online menus, I am willing to accept a certain amount of mystery as well.

                                                                                                Of course, that is a rarity these days.

                                                                                                In traveling to far off lands, as you already know, a functioning website is hardly the norm. There are Chowhounds who limit themselves to eating in or near their hotel in those cases, but that is truly missing out on a lot of great experiences. That sense of middle-class entitlement (I MUST see an online menu!) will leave people in their own little First World cocoon when traveling.

                                                                                                I know you are not like that, so I am surprised you are giving the false impression that you are spoiled with needing the info spoonfed to you before you'll deign to eat there.

                                                                                                1. re: Steve

                                                                                                  Yes, there ARE exceptions, and I gladly accept those.

                                                                                                  OTOH, when I can access an online menu (I also like online wine lists, but know that things can change, and in a hurry), I like to have a few moments to reflect, before I arrive, and am immediately asked, "would you like to order a cocktail, or wine?" I usually have a game plan formulated, though I try to build in "wiggle room." Maybe it's an old Boy Scout thing, but I like to "be prepared," as much, as I can be.

                                                                                                  Hunt

                                                                                            2. re: ksbee

                                                                                              Yes! Facebook is great for special announcements, specials, etc (We will be closed for Christmas. Check out our special Valentine's Day deal!), but you also need a website with the standard menu.

                                                                                            3. re: Motosport

                                                                                              That is one of the uses, that I put on-line menus to. I want some feeling of the place, if I am not familiar with it, but do have to admit that some copywriters DO go way overboard, when describing the dishes. That is to be expected, I guess?

                                                                                              Hunt

                                                                                            4. very important. See, I probably wont go to this restaurant ~~ they are against pasta for some reason

                                                                                              "Anti-pasta Salad – sliced salami, baked ham and provolone over fresh lettuce and veggies"

                                                                                              drives me nutz.

                                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: laliz

                                                                                                Heh. And the fact that they would put this over vegetables & greens instead of pasta would make ME very happy! Definitely to each their own.

                                                                                                I love reading menus and reviews. And, while I understand seasonal and sample menus, I wish the standard ones would be updated more often, especially with prices! If I'm on a budget, but still wish to dine out, I plan what I'm going to spend pretty carefully. It's quite a blow when the actual hard copy menu is a good 20% to 25% more expensive because "oh, we never update the website!"

                                                                                                1. re: laliz

                                                                                                  Hahahaha. Tongue in cheek I hope

                                                                                                  1. re: laliz

                                                                                                    Oh, boy, I am SLOW! Just got it! :-D

                                                                                                  2. Mostly to make sure that they have a dish I would eat - especially expensive restaurants. Last thing I want to order at the upscale restaurant is chicken or salad.

                                                                                                    1. I LOOOOOVE online menus. I used to refer so often to a website in my city that has 4000 local restaurant menus that the CH coordinator asked me to cease and desist. It's great to know what the choices are and what the meal is going to cost. I definitely use the menus when I'm choosing a restaurant.

                                                                                                      1. They are very important to me. I use them when I am traveling since I often haven't been to a city before so I know nothing about the restaurant scene there.

                                                                                                        When I am going out at home I like to look at menus so I can see what a place is all about.

                                                                                                        I like a menu to include prices. The ones without make me nervous.

                                                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                                                        1. re: Disneyfreak

                                                                                                          Many small restaurants do not have someone to constantly update the online menu with current prices.
                                                                                                          It's important but with all of the chaos of running a restaurant it gets put on the back burner. Pun intended!!
                                                                                                          So, I completely understand menus without prices.

                                                                                                          1. re: Motosport

                                                                                                            The ones that bother me are the larger restaurants that don't post any prices. I think they are trying to hide something. I need to have some information up front when I am traveling on business. I don't mind when a place shows there menu and then says appetizers/entrees with a price range. At least then I know where I stand.

                                                                                                        2. We just spent about 2 days looking at menus for our trip to Aruba. We needed to make reservations!! It was such fun. We always look at the menus online for eating out here at home too. Some of the menus are extensive and I don't want to miss a great entree by oversight when there.

                                                                                                          1. It's only mildly important, usually I am attracted to a restaurant by the reviews so I know what to expect before looking at the menus. And the better restaurants tend to change their menu daily or weekly and most don't update their website so you wouldn't be seeing what they are serving anyways. And if the restaurant has a set menu that only changes 4 times a year then I can probably name 50% of the menu items without looking at it as long as I've seen some reviews.

                                                                                                            1. They're not 100% needed, provided I can get access to reviews that give me a good idea of what to expect, but I love them. I'm one of those people who will pour over the menu, reading it two or three times, going over my options... Online menus save me a TON of time once I'm there, so that if I'm with people, they don't have to wait forever for me to order.

                                                                                                              1. This is a very interesting thread, especially considering some of the responses.

                                                                                                                I am surprised that some of you insist on knowing what all your choices are before spending money at a restaurant.

                                                                                                                Here is a list of some places/experiences where that is not going to happen:

                                                                                                                In Washington, DC three of the best upscale restaurants do not post online menus: Komi, Minibar, and Rogue 24.
                                                                                                                Almost all Chowhounds, in DC or visiting DC, jump at the chance at eating at these places if they are seriously thinking about spending that kind of money. In some cases, they would consider themselves lucky to even get a reservation.

                                                                                                                Of course, places like that are a rarity in this day and age, but there are other examples which are far more common:

                                                                                                                Casual spots with no little or no web presence. This is when you often get into the category of some less expensive and/or exotic cuisines. Everywhere from Thai-Xing (in DC, a set menu which changes daily) to hole-in-the-wall Ethiopian joints. There must be many in every city.

                                                                                                                Upscale restaurants that fully update their online menu daily... however, they are so much in demand that you must reserve well before that menu is posted. Reserve a few weeks ahead and the menu could be 100% different when your night comes around. For a restaurant that completely revamps their menu four times a year, if you book a month in advance what you find online may be useless.

                                                                                                                In addition, here are a few other ideas to add fuel to the fire:

                                                                                                                What about omakase? Many serious Japanese restaurants will offer this. Where the chef decides for you after you arrive based on an introductory conversation about price/preferences.

                                                                                                                What about traveling to experience different cultures? I ate tapas at a few places in the Arab Quarter in Granada, Spain, and I doubt any of those places had a website. Same thing for table d'hôte in the French countryside. They offer lodging and dinner, but there is often no menu I can assure you. And once you get out of the First World, you are up to your own devices where some information can be found on the internet from previous travelers - but certainly no menu.

                                                                                                                And last, let me mention that almost every restaurant everywhere offers specials that are simply announced at the table. If they rattle off eight special, that could be a large part of the choices that are given... only when you are seated.

                                                                                                                Seriously, folks, some of you sound so uptight about this. What did you do before this became a 'mandatory' practice on the internet? It wasn't that long ago!

                                                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                                                1. re: Steve

                                                                                                                  I'm not "uptight" about it - just find it enjoyable to peruse a restaurant's offerings beforehand. It can make the difference between my visiting a place or not.

                                                                                                                  1. re: Steve

                                                                                                                    I started the post because I was curious what people thought. I agree that's it's interesting that people expect to see it. I know that yellow pages and AT&T did a study and they found that the number one thing that people look for when they look up a restaurant online is the menu. It's interesting to me when more expensive places don't pay attention to their online presence. Your Rouge 24 example doesn't have a menu on their actual website but they do have one on zagat (which is owned and pushed by Google) and menu pages. The menupages obe has to be submitted by the restaurant...if they change as a tasting menu they need to put "sample menu" or some language on their. People expect to be able to educate themselves about what a night out will involve. Keller gets his menus up by 3:00 PM daily.

                                                                                                                  2. I do it for fun looking at menus across the US and even globally. I get my ideas from Chowhound recent discussions, or while watching food related shows on various channels. Obviously, I check them at home before going out.

                                                                                                                    1. The further away from home base I'm traveling the more likely I'll want to see an online menu. Even then, I may call ahead with the intent to ask about reservation policies and to make sure the menu online is current.

                                                                                                                      Sometimes menu have more than just the dishes/prices too. Sometimes the menu highlights the chef, the special dishes and events.

                                                                                                                      1. We are dining at Guy Savoy, in Las Vegas, this Saturday, and I have been following the menu selections, to know what we have to choose from.

                                                                                                                        For me, online menus can be very important.

                                                                                                                        Hunt