"Eating Out" is not just about the food anymore

The title of Gestalten’s latest release can either be read as a command or an exclamation of excitement at the pages awaiting the reader within. Read both ways it’s an economic comment as in, if you’re going to be picky about how you finance your nights out, you might as well go where you’ll get the most bang for your buck. In that way, “Eat Out!” is a gustatory directory worth its weight in gold, profiling some of the most thoughtfully designed spaces on the planet. But more than just a coffee table book on interior design, it investigates the ritual of eating and how your environment shapes that experience.

Divided into 9 categories: Pop, Rustic Chic, Straightforward, Perform, Open & Shut, The New Grandeur, High-Tech, Juxtapose and Graphic Spaces, “Eat Out!” explores how a restaurant communicates its ideas about food before you even open the menu. Some of these categories are less self-explanatory than others. The Perform category, for example, in which The Netherlands leads the way, features choreographed and experiential dining experiences in every type of meal from communal dining to the Dinner in the Sky to the breathable gin and tonic (inhale a full G&T in a mist-filled room designed to simulate the experience of being inside a cocktail glass).

Some spaces enhance the food served there and some are just plain over-designed, begging the question: when does the space overpower, or perhaps compensate for the food being served? When does design create the right atmosphere for a comfortable, enjoyable meal and when does it become a distraction? “Eat Out!” makes no judgment; It gives you a behind-the-scenes look at some of the most outrageous and some of the most stunning interiors and lets you make the call for yourself. After all, design, like food, is a matter of taste.