In “Menu Mind Games,” William Poundstone dissects this Balthazar menu (full size PDF) and tells you the logic behind its design.

menu Can you guess the tricks being used here? Click image to find out.

The piece offers a revealing look at how restaurants use typography and layout to drive customers toward high priced items. Also interesting is the strange jargon used by industry insiders, like puzzles, anchors, stars, and plowhorses.

A star is a popular, high-profit item—in other words, an item for which customers are willing to pay a good deal more than it costs to make. A puzzle is high-profit but unpopular; a plowhorse is the opposite, popular yet unprofitable. Consultants try to turn puzzles into stars, nudge customers away from plowhorses, and convince everyone that the prices on the menu are more reasonable than they look.

Priceless: The Myth of Fair Value (and How to Take Advantage of It) by William Poundstone [Amazon]
Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping by Paco Underhill [Amazon]