Most restaurants would benefit from a secret weapon on their menu. This is what I mean: based on the cuisine of every restaurant you expect certain foods and you don’t expect other foods. You wouldn’t see sushi in a Spanish restaurant. You wouldn’t see pizza in an Indian restaurant. You wouldn’t see burritos in French restaurant. But having a dish from another cuisine on your menu is a perfect secret weapon.
If you saw a dish that seemed like it was on the wrong menu, your eyes would jump out of their sockets. Something like that is remembered. Customers’ curiosity goes wild, and the courageous try out the dish. Everyone everyelse is eager to take a taste.
Of course, you want to serve a Spanish interpretation of sushi or the Indian interpretation of pizza. This may present a special challenge to your chef in interpreting what the French version of a burrito looks and tastes like. This dish will be under the microscope and your chef should take his/her time in deciding how to mix cuisines. That being said, don’t put it on your menu until it’s perfect as it will get a lot of attention from your regular customers. But if you pull it off, the customer will undoubtedly tell many of their friends and family.
You don’t have to be a “fusion” restaurant to do something like this. In fact, it has less marketing punch if you are a fusion restaurant with a menu full of surprises. Also, high-end fine dining restaurants and “authentic” restaurants would be best to keep to what customers expect. Still, many other ethnic restaurants can distinguish themselves with a dish that borrows from another cuisine.
Indeed, if you are able to create a new “fusion” dish and a good one, the temptation is to promote it as much as possible. Unless you are a restaurant that appeals to novelty seekers, this isn’t the wisest course. You ruin the fun if you sell the dish even before they see the menu and customers believe you created the dish only to promote it. Instead let word of mouth do the work for you. You can also encourage your servers to suggest the dish if the customers’ are having a hard time deciding on what to order.
If you get a good response, you may think about expanding the special dish. That doesn’t mean adding more fusion dishes but if it is a pizza in an Indian restaurant you may want to try to do a couple other Indian-inspired pizzas. Make sure the second and third are as good as the first as there will be a lot of expectation around this dish. Also, along the way, try to get as much feedback as possible.