November 25, 2007

What's your favourite restaurant?

In my family there are quite a few Foodies. What's a Foodie? According to Wikipedia a Foodie: "is an informal term for a particular class of aficionado of food and drink. The word was coined in 1984 by Paul Levy, Ann Barr, and Mat Sloan for their book The Official Foodie Handbook."

We eat well and healthy. The most fun part is the discovery of great restaurants and the back-stories of the passionate people involved. We've experienced many great establishments. It's no surprise that I'm frequently asked for a restaurant recommendation. When this happens I talk mostly about food. In response I'm invariably asked about the restaurant design - the furniture, lighting etc...

As in the hotel business, the trend in restaurants is unwittingly towards undifferentiation. If you wake up in the middle of the night, even in a boutique hotel you some times won't be able to discern if you were in New York City or Shanghai. The same is true of eating establishments. Re
staurant owners source furniture at the same suppliers or follow the advise of the same designers and focus groups. When it's followed by hiring of staff of the same age or attitude the effect is complete. The result is a place that looks like many others, often in the same city.

I'm not saying that the furniture is dumpy or that the staff is arrogant. It's almost as if restaurant design is set up to compel a patron to automatically think the food will be as good as the furniture. It's not necessarily so. My expectations drop when I enter such a cookie cutter location. In these cases the style always is often better than the substance.

When it comes to food (and business) it pays to tune out the style and focus on the substance...the food. I'll take two orders of substance please.

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