Style over substance?

To quote food critic, Jay Rayner, in this article he wrote for the Observer:

In the world of Instagram everything is delicious.

Like most (or all) food bloggers, I like to take pictures of my restaurant meals and post them on Twitter and Instagram. Presentation is always key – you only have to watch an episode of Masterchef to know that it’s hugely important. A lack of presentation style has seen many chefs bow out earlier than they should have, simply because they couldn’t nail their presentation.  Customers nowadays are discerning and they expect a certain standard. Pretty, delicate plates are no longer just confined to Michelin starred establishments.

We eat with our eyes BUT, as pretty as a dish may look, it’s really how it tastes that truly matters for any bona fide foodie.

Dare I say it but I do feel, more and more, that some chefs are so concerned with how their dishes look that they are prioritizing style over taste. I have had lots of dishes this year that looked stunning – a colourful masterpiece but not, sadly, a culinary masterpiece.

Is there anything more disappointing than being presented with a beautiful plate of food, that clearly has had love and attention paid to it in the plating up only for instant disappointment the moment you have that first bite? Bland, tasteless or over-seasoned are the main culprits. Take this dish below. It’s a polpo (octopus) salad from a recent trip to Italy. Looks gorgeous – lots of colour, beautifully presented but it tasted of nothing. Seriously. Such a disappointment….

Octopus salad

I understand that chefs, and restaurants, are now more concerned than ever over what their dishes look like as they are likely to be photographed and posted on social media or in a blog post. It’s free marketing for them and it does work. I’ve discovered new restaurants and gone to try them based on a blogger’s review or even just Instagram pictures and I know that my readers and friends have tried restaurants based on my reviews and recommendations. However, if you cannot get the balance right then style should always take second place to taste when it comes to food, in my opinion.

I think it’s important to offer constructive feedback if you are disappointed with your meal. It shouldn’t be about trying to get it taken off your bill or getting a free dessert, but rather helping the chef/s to improve the dish. After all, a restaurant is nothing without its customers and if you don’t enjoy your meal, you won’t return. Posting pictures of food that actually didn’t taste that great is doing nobody any favours. I promise you that all the food I post on Instagram was indeed delcious!

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *