Oh my, are these hand made?

Transparent Kitchen
4 min readFeb 27, 2021

It is often said that you can discern the quality of a restaurant by their steak knives. I believe this to be true, albeit in an age where steakhouses are just as rare as vegan restaurants once were, that statement has taken on a new form with the changing times.

I am not an interior designer, nor am I a graphic designer, but I’ve worked in some beautiful dining rooms. Now owning a design-centric technology platform, I have come to appreciate the nuances and complexities that differentiate something unique and beautiful from something unimaginative and sterile. Many scratch kitchen restaurants are the driving force behind culinary excellence and exploration, but they are also diverse sources of design inspiration, recognizing the importance of the environment where a culinary experience occurs.

“Nothing is missed and nothing is coincidental. In such a setting, chance equals surprise and surprise, most often, equals disappointment.”

If you have ever had the privilege of dining at a French Michelin restaurant, you would have observed the silent dance of the serving staff as they waltz across a carefully laid out dining room, where the distance between tables, serving stations, and light fixtures are measured not in feet, but inches. This level of detail extends to the handcrafted cutlery and plate ware, which is often custom made to fit the specifications of the tables themselves. Even the very way the serving staff communicate the intentional plating of the food is planned intimately. Nothing is missed and nothing is coincidental. In such a setting, chance equals surprise and surprise, most often, equals disappointment.

Following every fine dining experience, Michelin or not, I find myself bringing out my good cutlery and dusting off some of the large format plates I only use when entertaining. It reminds me that I too can implement culinary design into my everyday life.

“The last 10 years have heralded the age of the Instagram dining room.”

It is not just the top restaurants that have made a statement about design and the important role it plays in defining an experience. Across North America, from coffee shops to more affluent restaurant groups, the last 10 years have heralded the age of the Instagram dining room. This is not to undermine the value of these designers and architects, but it is to point out that many dining rooms were designed so beautifully, that they themselves have become worthy of our attention, bordering on pieces of art. It is almost inconceivable to open a restaurant today without a clear vision of how the interior design flows with your service, menu, and customer experience. The old saying ‘first impressions last’ could not be more true in this case.

Now it is important for me to reiterate a point from my Restaurant Economics 101 article. Customers need to understand that this new level of expectation around design comes at a massive cost, one that has to be reflected in the price of the experience when dining out. Restaurants simply cannot continue to create these elaborate spaces for us to enjoy, without charging accurately for them; they are not charities. All said and done, we cannot deny the immersion a unique dining space can create with the food we enjoy, but we must have an elevated understanding of the value of what we are experiencing.

Although I find myself enjoying my new wine glass set I got for Christmas, I am certainly sick of sitting at the same dining table night after night. I can’t wait to get back into a high ceiling, airy, open-concept dining room for a duck confit, or a dark, moody, basement bar for a manhattan. When dining reopens, I for one will not take these spaces for granted again.



Transparent Kitchen

Parent company of TABLZ, a premium guest service tool, changing your dining room economics….forever.