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The Search for the Perfect Dining Experience!

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Whilst trying a new restaurant or café can be exciting, it can also feel like a bit of a risk; with so many opportunities for disappointment! What if the food is bland, the wine list overpriced or the atmosphere uninspiring and underwhelming?

Thanks to the internet, we can easily research menus and past diners’ reviews (often complete with pretty photos of the food!), however, the interior fit out and atmosphere is usually still a bit of a mystery until arriving at the eatery. And in my humble opinion, these two elements can vastly affect an eating experience despite the fact they are not necessarily connected to the food!
During the past few years, Christchurch has seen an influx of new eateries opening (and some closing just as quickly!) and it seems those that have a point of difference have the most success. The places that have focused not only on the food but also on the experience of dining at their establishment. Thought has gone into ensuring the dining space feels comfortable and welcoming.

There are many ways to do this but my favourites include using the warmth of timber as opposed to the harder industrial styling that has been popular in recent years. And to never, ever underestimate the power of fabric! It can be used on walls, squabs and seating (please!). Plants help to bring life, colour and a feeling of luxury to a space; as long as they are looked after and not half dead! I think Black Estate in North Canterbury is a great example of this balance; with spectacular food in a refined, stylish and welcoming space. An environment where diners want to spend time relaxing and enjoying themselves.

Lighting is another massive factor when it comes to enjoying a space. There is nothing romantic about requiring a phone torch to read a menu! Natural lighting is fantastic for daytime dining and when it comes to evening eating, more than a candle on the table is desired! I quite like when eateries split their dining room into two spaces; breakfast/lunch and dinner. Morning to evening. This way, the interior fit out and design can reflect the time of day you are dining. The Birdwood in Beckenham does this well. An Eastern orientated eatery for breakfast and lunch, with muted décor and large street facing windows allowing plenty of sun to enter the space, energizing diners. Conversely, the pizzeria is dark and moody, with private booth seating, a lowered ceiling height, and narrower west facing windows catching the last glimpses of sunset, the space perfectly sets the tone for dinner (whilst still providing enough light to read the menu!).

When an eatery has considered their fit-out and created a welcoming and relaxed atmosphere, their food can truly shine, and, in my opinion, often tastes better! And, of course, friendly service is a must too!

-Campbell Jones

Published on Wednesday, July 10th, 2019