Author William Poundstone dissects the elements of information design and marketing built into restaurant menus:
“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,” Poundstone explains. “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.”
Poundstone uses the menu from New York eatery Balthazar as an example.