I agree with most everything everyone else has said, and aside from some messy typography and spacing I think the first version is MUCH better than your second.
I think that the first version will say better things about you and your business
I love the bites out of things, thats a cool touch, but I’d keep the colors consistent.
I’d steer away from pictures in the menu like chili’s or any other chain restaurant. I wouldn’t look to them for much more than organization of information.
Also printing on a off white paper could really bring out some warmth and allow you to drop the ‘watermarks’.
I also dig the logo. I wouldn’t frame the story but I would keep it. People need reasons to care about you then they’ll have more reasons to go back to you. There is a kind of dry but really great book on the subject called, Emotional Design.
A good graphic designer will be a good menu designer.
Projects that tend to really shine have a solid plan; design, by definition, is a plan to create.
Important elements include:
Â» definition of brand (who, what, where, why and hows)
Â» research (competitors, visual styles, voice)
Â» strategy (how to communicate the brand definition)
Â» written and visual communication (the design itself)
Â» iteration (third time’s a charm for a reason)
Stay away from 99designs, and don’t look to your printer for design. As a designer myself, you may expect me that reply but I’m say it because people come to me to fix what they’ve gotten from these providers. I’m not convinced it’d be much better than what you have.
Just my two cents, I made some quick notes that should help your menu perform better. Like Nick, I’m willing to quote if you’re interested in more help.
Best of luck