Savour Simplicity - Making Your Restaurant Great.

Some of the Best, If Simplest, Restaurants in London

“Nothing is more simple than greatness; indeed, to be simple is to be great.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson

In our last post we talked about what it takes to write great copy, and the same rules apply to having a great restaurant – define your brand, make it simple and appealing, and convey that brand identity without sacrificing substance in the interest of style. We have found that restaurants with a clear message and a simple brand can often be the most successful. Take Tortellini Cup, for example, consistently in Trip Advisor’s top 10, it serves only six dishes – two types of pasta, two types of bread, a salad, and a dessert – all of which are authentic to the brand’s home town of Modena. Another good example might be MeatLiquor in Soho – which went from street food van to a chain of restaurants people queue to get into – all because of its famously first-rate burgers.

  Le Relais de Venise, L’Entrecôte

 Le Relais de Venise, L’Entrecôte

People like choice, it’s true, but with over 16 thousand restaurants in London it can all be a little overwhelming - even TimeOut can’t limit its Best Restaurants list to fewer than 100! Keeping it simple will help you stand out and helps customers know exactly what to expect. Fewer items on your menu also means you have time to perfect those dishes and achieve that ideal balance of substance and style. This week I’ve chosen three of my favourite places to eat in London who hit this nail on the head.

Zeret Kitchen - £ - Casual dining

This little restaurant in a – frankly – slightly dodgy-looking part of Camberwell has become a firm favourite with London-dwellers, and not just those from south of the river. Serving delicious, authentic food, as well as having some of the friendliest customer service I have experienced, Zeret Kitchen’s offering is simple – traditional Ethiopian food and a warm welcome. The menu is a good length (enough choice but not overwhelming) and caters for both vegetarians and meat-eaters, there are some excellent beer choices, and you can enjoy the traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremony, complete with frankincense and popcorn, at the end of your meal.

Zeret Kitchen -  Vegetarian Selection

Zeret Kitchen - Vegetarian Selection

Le Relais de Venise, L’Entrecôte - ££ - Smart dining

A restaurant which only serves one dish is pretty much the definition of simplicity. And, I have to say, for me it pays off. One of the London branches of this French favourite, Le Relais de Venise serves only steak and chips and both are delicious. The steak is served with the restaurant’s secret sauce and you also get a starter salad with mustard vinaigrette. There is a good, short wine list and a nice selection of French desserts and that’s it! The décor is nothing to write home about but there is still a queue out of the door most nights – why? Because they focus on making the perfect steak frites. Simplicity at its best.

  Le Relais de Venise, L’Entrecôte -  Steak frites.

 Le Relais de Venise, L’Entrecôte - Steak frites.

Indigo at One Aldwych - £££ - Fine dining

On the surface, Indigo at One Aldwych looks like your standard, fine-dining joint. You know the sort, simple but elegant, shines a light on ‘seasonal British produce’, yadda yadda… but there’s a catch – everything is entirely gluten- and dairy-free. Not that you can tell – banish ideas of grainy sauces and cardboard cake, the main selling point for Indigo was that it went totally gluten- and dairy-free and – at least according to the Evening Standard – “no one noticed”. It also caters for both vegetarians and meat eaters. From a marketing perspective, this is excellent. Fancy a fancy meal but you’re coeliac or lactose-intolerant? One quick Google (say “dairy free fine dining restaurant London”) and Indigo pops up. It has a strong, simple USP and hasn’t sacrificed the quality for it.

Indigo at One Aldwych -  Pan-fried pigeon with celeriac pur é e, parsnip crisps, and a Madeira jus.

Indigo at One Aldwych - Pan-fried pigeon with celeriac purée, parsnip crisps, and a Madeira jus.

Indigo at One Aldwych -  Dairy-free chocolate mousse, with honeycomb crumb and c rème fraîche ice cream.

Indigo at One Aldwych - Dairy-free chocolate mousse, with honeycomb crumb and crème fraîche ice cream.

Keeping it simple doesn’t have to mean only serving one dish or one cuisine – it means finding something that makes your restaurant unique, investing in that wholeheartedly, and making sure that it’s the best it can be. Not sure where to start? We know some people who could help you out…

The Clear and Simple Truth of Good Copywriting

Copywriting Tips Straight From The Epicure Desk

‘If people cannot write well, they cannot think well…’  - George Orwell

Putting a pen to paper can bring out the worst in us. Sometimes when we write it is almost as if we have woken up in the midst of a fancy tea party for aristocrats where we feel an impulse to sound more intelligent than we are, speak more florally than we normally would or use big words when smaller ones are more appropriate.

Writing can be a space in which we attempt to flex our vocabularies and flaunt our smooth and sophisticated styles whilst throwing everything else – including meaning – to the wind.

The secret to good writing is communicating meaning. Yet for many the myth of good copy writing; i.e. style over substance, is the more appealing, intuitive option.

The Elements of Style with Epicure Digital Marketing

From what we can discern from Orwell’s quote above, writing well requires thinking well. It turns out that thinking well is probably a lot easier than you would have thought.

Thinking well does not mean – necessarily – solving an impossible math equation or offering an illuminating interpretation of a poem or painting. It can merely be stating the obvious; for instance, that you prefer coffee to tea, or that you enjoy beach holidays.

Expressing something simple cogently and clearly is thinking well and it is this basic skill that is your greatest asset in all your writing endeavors, including restaurant copywriting.

Restaurant copywriting shares the same scope as journalism. When writing a news story, the writer is advised to pretend s/he is speaking to her/his friend at the pub – simple, almost colloquial language. For instance: ‘You are never going to believe who I just saw whilst walking past Exeter College, Oxford… Thom Yorke!’ Granted the structure of this is not necessarily appropriate for publication, but the ingredients are all there.

Yesterday Thom Yorke was seen walking by Exeter College, Oxford, reports Chris O’Leary at Epicure Digital Marketing. That’s better. Not the most lyrical line ever written but its meaning is as clear as day.

In this same vein, when you approach copywriting either for your restaurant or a client’s, begin with the most basic, fundamental parts of what makes the restaurant special or worth visiting for a meal.

Imagine, for instance, that you are dealing with a client that specialises in authentic Neapolitan pizza. The message that you must communicate is: This restaurant serves delicious authentic pizza from the Mecca of pizza, Naples.

Let’s consider a relevant headline: Pizza from Napoli. Don’t be fooled – there is nothing wrong or unfashionable about telling your reader exactly what it is you are offering, particularly given that this three word headline would be reinforced by a high-resolution image of a mouth-watering authentic pizza, and hopefully supported by fantastic design and branding.

Where possible, it never hurts to add a bit of flair to one’s copywriting. Just don’t force it. If you would like to add another layer of meaning or intrigue to your headline – without sacrificing its original impactfulness – why not try something like From Napoli, with Love? This example, when added to a marketing framework that unequivocally shows that we are dealing with a pizza restaurant in London, clearly expresses that the pizza is authentically Neapolitan and is made with love. This headline also benefits by being placed within a popular and fashionable British cultural framework; i.e. James Bond and its range of British, sexy and on-trend significations.

Great writing takes style


An example of a really good, but concise and basic headline is on the New York City burger chain Five Napkin Burger’s website. Their homepage leads with MEET THE BURGERS in clear, large font laid on top of a high-resolution image of a big, juicy and delicious burger. The language is simple – three words – and the message even clearer  – this place does a damn good burger.

Let’s consider another NYC restaurant (which shall remain unnamed) that is arguably better than Five Napkin Burger – a stylish wine bar that serves great wine and flatbread pizzas. Instead of just telling us about the quality food and drink they offer, they write: Savor The Sensations. Our extensive wine list includes exquisite bottles from around the globe. Our sommelier has traveled the world collecting only the finest wines… It continues in this style for a good deal longer.

Let’s play spot the difference – one example offers us three words that combine to not only give us pure, unadulterated meaning, but also one heck of a reason to pay them a visit (that is, if you like burgers).

The other example hides from us the truly excellent reasons why we should drop by for wine and flatbreads through nearly 70 meaningless and self-consciously-styled words. This not only gives the reader a nearly meaningless message, it renders its digital marketing impotent.

The clear and simple truth of quality copywriting is that all you need to do is pretend you are telling your friend over a drink at the pub what your restaurant is about and why it is worthwhile.  Do this, and you will be well on your way to the evocative and captivating copy your restaurant’s marketing craves.