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Menu Whispers: The Power of Design: “Given the importance of first impressions on judging people, places and experiences, Alina Kulesh explores the communicative properties of smart menu design – revealing just how much menus influence overall dining experience.” (The Genteel)

If you know me, you know I love food. Although I enjoy cooking it (when I make the time), I enjoy going out for dinner even more. And let’s face it…those chefs do it way better than I can. Going out for dinner is such a special thing. It’s the wine; It’s the company; It’s the food; It’s the pleasure.

When you walk into a restaurant, the first thing you probably notice is the decor. The furniture, the art on the walls, the lighting, and even the music, all of these elements build your perception and ultimately your experience. No duh, you think. We are aware of this, aren’t we? But what about the menu? When was the last time you looked at the menu and realized how much its design has to do with what you are going to order, how you feel about the restaurant, and how it’s shaping your dining experience?

A few of us think about this consciously. The menu though, holds most of the power in shaping our perception of the restaurant and the dining experience to come. I won’t rant about this too much because you can find my expanded thought on this here.

On a different, yet similar note…I have been doing some traveling in the last two months and I have had the pleasure (& privilege) to eat at some great restaurants, but here are the ones that have left an impression on me:

MONTREAL, Canada (Although currently my hometown it would be a shame if I didn’t mention one of my favourite places to dine.) — Restaurant LEMÉAC: Classic French cuisine at its best. The food is ah-maz-ing; there isn’t an item on the menu that you can go wrong with, my favourite is the panko crusted goat cheese, apple and walnut salad and the roasted cod, fennel and potato purée. Yum! The staff is always professional and the atmosphere is always lively.

SALZBURG, Austria — Café Tomaselli: Café Tomaselli is the oldest café in Salzburg located in beautiful Old Town. While in Austria I wrote here every day. It is the perfect place to eat great food, people watch, and work. Their ham and cheese omelette is really fantastic. But they are better known for their elaborate ice creams and deserts. Their food is always fresh and every bite is memorable. Not to mention being there you really feel like you are part of Salzburg’s rich history.

LYON, France — Le Grand Café Des Negociants:  This place is impressive in every way and detail. The entire establishment is done in an Art Deco style, but the patio has a very contemporary twist. The cuisine is familiar, but every dish has their own twist. My favourite here was the desert: Crème brûlée rose with a scoop of grapefruit ice cream. (I don’t think I need to explain why.)

TEMECULA, California — Ponte Winery Restaurant: I mentioned this place in my piece, so I won’t elaborate too much because you can read about it here. What I didn’t mention thought is the perfection of their rosé. It’s crisp, light, and has the best combination of sweet and sour.

A glimpse into Le Grande Cafe in Lyon.

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