I learned years ago while working at the Cypress Inn Restaurant in Tuscaloosa that people will not order a dish if they are not sure what it is.
"Penne a la Vodka," for example, is a staple at almost every Italian restaurant in New York where I lived for almost 20 years. And it's an easy dish to make -- saute some garlic and minced onions in olive oil, deglaze the pan with vodka, stir in some chopped tomatoes, add a little basil, salt and pepper, cut with heavy cream. When I made it for the kitchen staff they loved it. So did the owner. He knew his customers however, and insisted that we could not put it on the menu, even as a special, with "vodka" in the name.
Call it "penne pasta with a creamy tomato sauce." Which we did, and we sold it out every time we made it.
Cardamom truffles. I should have known that most people don't know what cardamom is. Those that have heard of it could not describe it. And instead of asking to try it, they just pass it by. Feed them a sample and they think it's great. Samples often result in sales. But given the choice of a sample of pound cake and a sample of cardamom truffle, and most people here will take the pound cake.
We also made chili-jasmine truffles...can hardly wait to explain that taste.