Divine Dining Design

Llewellyn Lambert
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“We eat with our eyes” is the defining phrase of my culinary lecturer’s monologue, and whilst I’m sure he meant we need to focus on food presentation and design of the diner’s plate, it’s a mantra that has stuck with me on many levels.

Often today we begin our journey with food from the moment we enter an establishment. The decor, the staff uniform and overall atmosphere is what really feeds into the dining experience.

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Source: missmoss.co.za

Whether it be at one of my favourite eateries, such as El Burro in town with their quirky Mexican decor, or the sultry waitresses dressed in their traditional Mexican Huipil, a meal doesn’t seem quite as impressive or authentic if the environment itself doesn’t complement the intended food experience. Having a chilli margarita and some goat tacos wouldn’t be so delicious at a chic, all white ocean restaurant with no donkey in sight.

Whilst I may be able to take a stab at what the food trends for 2014 may be, I cannot be so certain of the continuously evolving theatre of eating out and how restaurants will adapt their dining experience to the latest trends. I simply have to eat out more to truly discover the future of dining design.

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If I look at what has done well in Cape Town it’s easy to see that the hipsters have well and truly taken over. They have gone back to basics by keeping the decor, much like the food, as natural as possible. Simplicity in design by Liam Mooney is one of the greatest appeals at Clarke’s burger bar & Dining room. It makes my Bloody Mary and cheesy fries seems less blamphemous and more righteous.

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Source: Claire Mack

But what if these elements were to all fall away and instead of paying for good food, wine and amazing surroundings, we were charged for our time spent enjoying all these touches and not being charged for the items themselves.

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Source: @ziferblatlondon

Cafe Ziefeblat (clock face in Russian) has recently opened at a space in Shoreditch, London, and it’s here that you enter a “Tree house for grown-ups, or everyone’s living room”. On arrival guests collect an antique clock and jot down the time they leave. This is then all you pay for, not a meal nor spot of tea. The time you’ve spent chatting to the twink you met on the bus or reading up on whose nerves Miley Cyrus is tweaking on.

“In Ziferblat, you don’t pay money for service. Nobody serves you; you help yourselves. By paying for time… you participate in the existence of this space, so it’s like we all rent this space together.” Says Ivan Mitin, Cafe Curator.

Is this what is needed? Covertly avoiding being the subject of a Simon and Garfunkel track.

” People talking without speaking, People hearing without listening” us sitting down, making friends whilst making food. Is there anything better?

Will this be feasible in most cities or only the artistic, eclectic and eccentric cities like London and Cape Town. Communal dining is certainly finding its way onto our food scene and I hope it’s here to stay. Don’t you?

About Llewellyn Lambert

A twenty something South African bloke, who loves Foraging for good food, quaffing the best local wines and sometimes even falling in love, with boys obviously. Often found procrastinating on Twitter or lost in a small town. Chef, restauranteur, hipster wanna be and now, artisan of words, self proclaimed of course.