Good Design: Swiss Chalet Menu


If you have grandparents, you have been to Swiss Chalet. If you haven’t, your grandparents lives could possibly be devoid of all meaning. For those with grandparents living desolate, lonely lives subconsciously longing for the quarter chicken dinner that will complete their existence, Swiss Chalet is a restaurant that commonly looks like a Chalet and may or may not have originated in Switzerland. It is stereotypically frequented by the elderly but will also hospitably accommodate younger people as well, without bias.

Perhaps something they are not well known for is graphic design. Recently, however this all changed as a hungry representative of Elbowruminations had the opportunity to visit Swiss Chalet accompanied by the token grandmother who stubbornly refuses to eat anything not made of chicken. Upon being seated it was immediately apparent that the menus where not only new but they were very well designed! Perhaps the most creative approach to restaurant menus seen in quite some time.

Swiss Chalet Menu

This menu was more like a food based fairy tale detailing the experience you were about to have rather than a linear inventory of available items. The front and back of the menu was printed with a brickwork similar to what you might find on a classic rotisserie oven. It opened out-wards, like double doors, revealing removable current specials on inside panel – a practical solution that serves to highlight what customers should see first. The size of the menu was also unusual, being a square shape rather than a traditional tall rectangle.

Inside flap

Clean layout

The interior pages of the menu were comprised of classic, simple text treatment and a clean, open layout. A straight, square, two column layout made reading about eating easy. The lack of clutter and consistent style sheet – red titles and black descriptions on a white background – was quick to navigate.

The photography chosen for this menu was bright, powerful, and plentiful. Every odd page contained a full page photo that was not only relevant to the food listed next to it, but it was also complementary in colour. The careful planning of each detailed shot exposed the food’s flavour to its fullest visual potential and told a tale of texture and taste in each crisp pixel.

great photography

From the non-traditional format of this menu, to the great photography, and the elegant layout, Swiss Chalet has created a perfect sales pitch that could intrigue even the most fickle eater enough to find himself with a fork in his fist. We give it five stars. The food was pretty good too.