Are you someone who appreciates when a meal is as pleasing to the eye as it is to the appetite? Then check out our list why we think presentation matters!
— Justin M. Wilson
We at Dining Out love food. Some (most) might say a little too much, and many of our waistlines might agree. But like I’ve always said, cholesterol and trans fats were invented by Hallmark to sell cards. Simply put, we don’t worry about a couple lunches before dinner.
Unencumbered by belts, we’ve developed both an appreciation for the amazing roster of menu items at the establishments we frequent, as well as an admiration for how they’re so artfully showcased. From appetizer to dessert, we thought we’d share a few things we’ve learned about the importance of good presentation and what it adds to a dining experience.
An ice breaker:
Being out on the town with a new companion can be a bit awkward. Not all of us have the McConaughey-esque ability to turn any conversation into a verbal massage. But food is a natural conversation starter, so if you’re able to work through the small talk about your phone plans until dinner, a visually unique feast can kick-start the conversation. After all, the simplest comment about a meal can springboard into talk of favourite foods, grandma’s secret recipe and your sister’s decision to become a vegan.
Appreciation for the arts:
More specifically, abstract art. Having dined in a few eateries that utilize some very intricate presentations, I can honestly say I’ve had some of the most visually stunning AND great tasting dishes in recent memory. Personally, my favourite form of abstract presentation goes vertical with the main towering over veggies or other items, accompanied by a vibrant garnish, sauce or spice. Speaking from experience, these are the meals that bring about concern that there’s not enough food to fill up on due to the area of the plate left visible. A fair worry, but most of the time, when I’ve finally given up, I feel like I’m in the throes of my second trimester.
Go ahead. Play with your food:
Forget what your aunt who married into the family told you; some meals are meant to be played with. Whether the meal involves a Raclette (a granite stone on which you place an array of fine meats, cheeses, veggies, etc.) or the experience of drizzling hot caramel over a spherical chocolate ball melting atop an arrangement of colourful fruit and in-house made whipped cream, dishes that involve participation are almost always more fun. Not only do they foster connection to the dining experience, but even if something doesn’t go quite as planned, you still get to eat it.
A social media blitz:
In this age of handheld technology, the better a dish’s presentation, the more likely it is to be uploaded to social media. I’m sure we’ve all seen – or been – the person with their phone out in the restaurant looking for just the right angle to hammer home the pure majesty of a Hungarian flatbread with truffle oil and blackened buckwheat. For a restaurant that prides itself on its menu and the quality of each dish, this free digital advertising brings with it the opportunity to show off their creations to a broad audience, many of whom might go right ahead and book a table for themselves. So please, change your profile picture to a Caesar salad, tweet about that shrimp po’boy, swipe right for sushi or go #unfiltered for upside-down pineapple cake.
Visuals influence how we taste:
Now to get a little science-y. Back in 2001, a French PhD candidate named Frédéric Brochet conducted an experiment focusing on the way we taste. The sneaky devil added red dye to white wine and had a panel of more than 50 wine “experts” provide tasting notes. The result? Their comments were almost completely red wine focused. Brochet’s study is referenced a lot when people talk about the wine industry and the validity of wine tasting as a whole, but it’s also still used today for insight into the influence visuals have on taste and smell – two things that come in very handy when enjoying a meal. With this in mind, it’s easy to see how a dish’s presentation can influence taste. Various seasonal colours, the positioning of the main and the general layout of a place-setting can set the tone from the moment you first sit down to your last sip of (hopefully dye-free) pinot noir.
Have you ever had a meal so visually stunning it took you a few seconds to remember it was food? We’d love to hear about it! Or better yet, next time, share it with us! Visit us on Facebook at facebook.com/lifestyleyyc or Tweet at us @lifestyleyyc.