Bevans Branham | Restaurants & Clubs

Lorie and Bevans Branham in the Restaurant Industry

Author: Bevans Branham

Why Small Plates and Portions Are In

smallplate_imageLet’s face it.  We all remember a time when plates were bigger.  Plates?  Yes, chances are you have been to a restaurant in the last month that featured a plate no bigger than a saucer.  And it had food on it.  The food portions have shrunk in the name of the small plate craze.  Gone are the days where you had a heaping pile of spaghetti on your plate that would actually allow you to ask for a take home box at the end of the meal.

Why has the culture changed?  This question could have any number of answers so with the ever changing dining out culture, let’s explore the possibilities.

Smaller plates save money

While purchasing smaller plates at home may save you money in food cost, (unless you like to see how high your food can go), this only translates to saving money dining out if you order less.  While many restaurants are not making as much of a percentage on the smaller plate (losing 10% more on average compared to a normal portion) it is up to the consumer to buy less in order to save money.

Many customers buy small plates to sample more of the menu at less cost.  However, restaurant owners must make up their losses in other spectrums.  Most owners believe that the smaller the plates the quicker the customers eat the faster the turnover.  In the end many restaurants are spending the same amount of money for chefs to produce less food per plate and are paying dishwashers more hours due to the increase in dirty dishes.

It keeps you healthier

There is no denying that taking in less calories is a good thing.  Many restaurants have shown that they benefit from having half and whole entrée choices.  By ordering a few small plates and a half glass of wine instead of a whole glass you have saved yourself from calorie overload but were able to sample more than one menu item.  Restaurant managers have noticed a drawback to the process however.  Servers, when recording the order, may write incorrect information leaving customers unhappy when a whole portion comes out after only asking for a half.

You’re too busy

We are all getting busier.  Going out to eat has become more nostalgic but in the event that you are in a schedule crunch you can order tapas style or a small plate and wine combination and be out the door in reasonable time.  No more worrying about waiting for the person across the table to finish their Chicken Parmesan.

The culture has changed in the foodie world.  Small is in.  Large is gone.  There will always be those places you hold dear.  Places where you can stretch your elbows on the table and without hitting your neighbor or spilling their four-ounce water.  There are reasons, valid reasons, for the culture to change however.  Health is always a conscious factor as well as the ability to share and enjoy in short amounts of time.  Plus who can ever be upset about saving money?


Exploring Fast Food Across Cultures

Fast Food LogosAs a chain restaurant expands to different cultures, it will have to adapt to the local tastes. In India, where most hindus avoid eating beef, McDonald’s made a Big Mac using chicken meat, renaming it the “Chicken Maharaja Mac.” It was successful. Meanwhile, in Mexico, where Mexicans are surrounded by traditional dishes, Taco Bell has never successfully opened a location. They couldn’t adapt to and stand out from the local foods. The lesson is: chain restaurants have to change some of their formula from time to time if they want a global reach.

Let’s look at Japan, a country that highly values novelty and aesthetics with their food. Here are a few ways chain restaurants have adapted to Japan’s local flavor:

1) Their McDonald’s cheeseburger is a Cheese Katsu Burger. It’s a hamburger bun with a deep-fried pork cutlet stuffed with cheese, a layer of cabbage and some curry sauce.

2) Their KFC chicken is still the same chicken, but its often dusted with yuzu schichimi.

3) Starbucks, which rarely changes its menu, offers a Frappuccino with squares of coffee jelly (a local favorite).

4) The pizza topping possibilities in Japan are incredible. Pizza Hut toppings include mochi, shrimp, mentaiko sauce, Mayo Q, nori, corn and mayonnaise. At one point, Pizza Hut even offered mini corn dogs stuffed into the crust.

5) McDonald’s menu items heavily features shrimp, and they even made a burger out of it. The Ebi Filet-O is made from a patty of battered and fried shrimp with Thousand Island dressing and lettuce.

6) McDonald’s also has a Mega Tomago burger, a big mac with the addition of bacon and an egg patty.

While chain restaurants don’t change in many international markets, they almost always do so in Japan. The Japanese people have a distinct taste for exotic foods.


Best French Fries in Palm Springs- With Bevans Branham


Seriously, we all know that french fries aren’t the best for you, right? But I say,
“tell somebody who care” – some things are just worth the indulgence and french
fries are in that category. Our friends over at Palm Springs Life had a recent blog
post on the best fries in Palm Springs and we thought that it needed to be shared.
Not because the list is groundbreaking but because, well, we thought they needed
some help.

Now, we did just say that fries are an ‘indulgence’ up above – but the folks over
at Woody’s Burgers have some delectable sweet-potato fries that by themselves
are a little bit better for you than white potato fries. The fact that they put some
maple syrup on these guys definitely does give them an interesting flavor.

I don’t know how I feel about a chain restaurant bringing up the list in the second
position, but I have to admit In-N-Out Burger’s fries are legendary. Made fresh
every day and complimented by one of the best burgers this side of the continent
– order these fries ‘animal style’ for a true indulgence. Drive down I-10 until you
see a giant golden arrow @ Bob Hope, and please, for the sake of your spud-
starved taste-buds, stop inside.

The three other victors include Morgan’s in the Desert, La Brasserie Bistro & Bar,
and Pappy & Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace (tied with Johnny Rockets). I have to
say the “heart attack style” of the cheese fries at Pappy & Harriet’s is worth the
drive if you’re into ranch dressing, green onions and cheese all over steak fries.

Not on the list, but on my list of personal favorites are the hand made, extra
crispy fries at Tyler’s in the parking lot of the very first shopping mall in southern
California, between Indian and Palm Canyon in downtown Palm Springs. I also
crave the sweet potato fries with parmesan that Roy’s in Rancho Mirage serves
with Kobe sliders during happy hour (the best value in the desert!)

Eat more french fries!

Bevans Branham

California Coming Up Strong In Zagat’s List of Romantic Restaurants

Restaurant Recommendations for Valentine’s Day by Bevans Branham

Bevans Branham here, and just in case you haven’t realized it yet (or your significant other hasn’t hinted it to you quite yet) Valentine’s day is just around the corner.  I was reading through one of the Zagat Blog’s latest articles on the 10 must-visit romantic restaurants around the world.  Not only did they name some amazing restaurants that you and your better-half need to try ASAP, but I was extremely excited to see that California-based restaurants were represented very heavily in the article as well!

If you’re like us and based in California, it might be worth your time to check out some of these delicious restaurants and (possibly, if you’re lucky) get some reservations for this Thursday.  Some of my favorites on the list:

Stonehouse Restaurant, Santa Barbara, CA
900 San Ysidro Ln., Santa Barbara; 805-565-1724

The Stonehouse Restaurant is a 19th-century stone house, with a built-in wood burning fireplace- making this restaurant one of the most atmospheric places to have a romantic Valentine’s Day dinner.  You and your special guy or gal can eat beneath the stars on Stonehouse’s ocean-view patio (if the weather permits) and can enjoy some California cuisine- complete with a palette of herbs and veggies harvested from the on-site garden.

Auberge du Soleil, Napa, CA
180 Rutherford Hill Rd., Rutherford; 707-963-1211

Restaurants in Napa have their own special hint of romanticism, but Auberge du Soleil, featuring California/French cuisine stands out from among the crowd. Their outdoor-patio offers breathtaking views of the surrounding wine hills that make this location superb for romantics and wine-lovers alike.

Joël Robuchon, Las Vegas, NV
3799 S. Las Vegas Blvd., Las Vegas; 702-891-7925

Well, ok, it’s not in California but it’s close enough for us.  If you’re willing to make the drive from LA to Las Vegas you will not be disappointed.  Joël Robuchon’s decadent plates of New French cuisine and the restaurants absolutely breathtaking atmosphere bring this restaurant to the apex of fine dining in and around the state of California.  Along with the exquisite food, the purple-velvet curtains and golden chandeliers will make you and your partner feel like royalty.

These are just some of our recommendations for this coming Valentine’s Day, if you have any other recommendations please don’t hesitate to leave them for our other readers in the comments section below- and we’d love to hear about them as well!  Have a wonderful day, and we hope that you and yours have a wonderful, loving Valentine’s Day.

-Bevans Branham

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