Close this search box.

New app helps ‘dish-stressed’ diners make informed food choices – and makes restaurants more sticky

This is an archived article - we have removed images and other assets but have left the text unchanged for your reference

A quarter of restaurant diners admit they have walked out before ordering as they don’t understand what is on the menu. In response, Barclaycard is testing new prototype ‘Transplater’ app that shows diners what ingredients and dishes are and whether they may like them or not.

Research by Barclaycard suggests that restaurants are missing out on custom due to over-complicated menus, as a quarter (23%) of diners admit they’ve walked away because the dishes on the menu were unfamiliar or too confusing.

The data shows Brits are eating out on average three times a month, yet 42% say they’d be unlikely to return if their food order was different from what they expected – proving just how important it is to get the dining experience right. In addition, almost four in ten (39%) believe that fewer dishes would be sent back to the kitchen if menus included more detailed explanations of ingredients and dishes. 

Solving diners’ dish-stress

Restaurant-goers are calling for menus to include images and descriptions so they can find out what ingredients are without having to ask. Almost half (45%) would also like to see an app created that can provide this information for them.

In response, Barclaycard – which processes nearly half of the nation’s credit and debit transactions – is testing new prototype ‘Transplater’ technology to help diners make more informed menu choices before they order.  

Transplater works by serving up images of unfamiliar ingredients with descriptions so diners can make informed choices before they order. The app, which is currently being tested with London-based restaurant Frederick’s, works in three simple steps:

• Diner opens ‘Transplater’ app

• Diner takes picture of unknown ingredient they want ‘transplating’

• An image and description of the ingredient appears on the screen 

Integrating technology into the dining experience should be a key consideration for restaurants, with 44% of customers also wanting apps that allow them to pay via phone or tablet so they don’t have to wait for the bill. Interactive digital menus built into restaurant table tops (38%), and menus that use Augmented Reality to help visualise food items before ordering (27%) are also popular requests.

The world of retail is beset by choice and many consumers are starting to crumble under the pressure. How many times have you entered an empty car park and not been able to pick a spot? This is a 21st Century problem in need to a solution – and naturally we turn to our phones. 

While Barclaycard are targetting restaurants, the idea can translate across all retail sectors, helping connect shoppers with information about provenance, style, reviews and more using phone recognition. It certainly is food for thought.

Foodie fear

The research also found that stewing over ingredients results in misinformed choices for more than half (55%) of diners who have been left disappointed by a dish when it arrived because it wasn’t as they expected. It’s a matter of pride though for a quarter (25%) of restaurant-goers who admit they are too embarrassed to ask waiters to explain ingredients or dishes to them. Almost one in five (19%) even shy away from asking their friends.

A further nine in ten diners (91%) admit they don’t always recognise items on restaurant menus; so much so that only 10% can identify every ingredient on the menu each time they eat out, despite a third (33%) considering themselves to be a ‘foodie’.

The majority of British restaurant-goers have never heard of Guajillo Chilli (73%), Girolles (62%) or Kimchi (50%), even though these foods are becoming popular additions to many restaurant dishes. Similarly, although Brits tend to be known as a nation of cheese lovers, around half of diners get into a pickle with the different varieties, not recognising Burrata (57%), Manchego (49%) or Pecorino (48%). 

Kirsty Morris, Director, Barclaycard Payment Solutions, explains: “We know that restauranteurs pour their heart and soul into creating new and exciting dishes, but it’s clear diners can be put off by the embarrassment of having to ask what certain ingredients are. This is why we have developed a prototype app that restaurants could adopt to help diners feel more confident in their menu choices.

“At Barclaycard, we are always looking for new ways to help both merchants and consumers, whether that’s allowing diners to skip the wait for the bill with Dine & Dash, or shopping without visiting a checkout with grab+go. We hope that our research and Transplater will provide valuable insights to help restauranteurs create the best dining experience possible for their customers.”

Joe Hurd, TV Presenter and Chef, adds: “As chefs, we now have more ingredients at our fingertips than ever before. Menus are becoming more exciting but complex with foods that no one has ever tasted or even heard of. Whether it’s Tiger Milk, Buffalo Worms, N’Duja or Salsify, it’s no surprise that menus can be baffling for diners. Technology like Transplater could be revolutionary for both diners and restaurants. Not only will it help customers get the most out of a menu but also take the pressure off wait staff who need an ever-expanding encyclopaedia of foodie knowledge.”

Matt Segal, Owner of Frederick’s, says: “Our customers welcome trying new and varied dishes so we frequently introduce interesting ingredients while ensuring classic favourites that they know and love are also on the menu. We’re very excited to test Transplater, it would be a great innovation to see in the future to encourage customers to be more adventurous when ordering and try different foods. It would be a menu winner for us.”

Image: Barclaycard

Read More

Register for Newsletter

Group 4 Copy 3Created with Sketch.

Receive 3 newsletters per week

Group 3Created with Sketch.

Gain access to all Top500 research

Group 4Created with Sketch.

Personalise your experience on