food vs design – what matters more for a great dining experience?

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I’d heard some great things lately about one of Queen West’s new additions Nyood www.nyood.ca. A girlfriend and I decided to check it out a few weeks ago. The space itself was pretty fantastic. It felt distinctly un-Toronto. True, I was only a day back from New York and was likely still wearing my rose coloured NYC glasses, but it did seem to encompass that distinctly New York warmth. An oxymoron in most other capacities but when it comes to their restaurants, they know what they’re doing. Some design classics like one of my favorites the wishbone chair combined with high impact features like the lighting and ceilings, cleverly distract from innovative but economical details. I wasn’t blown away by the food, however as a vegetarian I didn’t really get to try what seemed to be the top picks. The bartender suggested a great bottle of red, both well priced and full bodied and we loved every drop. I’ll be going back for the atmosphere alone. It’s worth a visit. I’d suggest reserving a window table or just sit at the bar.

5 responses

  1. It does look New Yorkish – a little like the ‘Gotham Bar and Grill’ I thought?

    Food versus design is an interesting debate that applies to packaging design for foods on the shelves as well as interior design for eating places. Design definitely has a lot to bring to the table!

  2. I’m constantly giving myself a reality check, a disappointing head shake at myself…..
    I’m as guilty as the next for buying a bottle of wine because I love the label or going back to the same brunch joint for the low light and big benches. the food disappoints me everytime….
    As a designer I like to think I have an excuse!

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  4. I think you can forgive yourself for buying wine based on label – most people, including myself, don’t have much of a clue about wine and how to select the best for your price point, so we’re all easy prey for marketing tactics like “Strut” or “Stiletto” or whatever happens to be pushed on the shelf…. but, I have to say, I’m quite surprised that you’d eat persistently disappointing food purely because of design concerns like low level lighting and big benches…. If the question is “What’s more important when eating out? Food or design?” I would be surprised – and a bit disgusted – if anyone would genuinely answer design…. but let me clarify: If the question is “Would you be prepared to compromise food for other factors?” then we’d all answer yes surely – I compromise on food in every meal because I can’t afford the best restaurants or all organic local produce, for example. There’s a level of acceptability in food that cannot be compromised (relative to each individual to a certain extent) and if your big bench/ low level light place delivers food you consider so poor or inedible yet still you choose it, then there’s a problem. There’s something uncomfortable about the notion that we would compromise what we put inside our bodies because of someone’s choice of lampshade. But, if the food is adequate enough and the ambiance and other factors make up for it and you’re interested in having an ‘experience’ above and beyond just ‘eating’, then it’s justifiable. It’s not as simple as food vs design because what you’re really asking is “What experience do you want to have?” May I recommend dumping the place that consistently disappoints? There are so many amazing places to eat in Toronto, some so good that you could be sat in a warehouse on a crate and it wouldn’t matter what the design. Life is far too short for experiences that don’t meet all your expectations.

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