Earlier on in the month, we made our way through the hustle and bustle of the Hotelympia crowd and took a seat at the Hospitality Futures stage, for The Ultimate Dining Experience panel discussion. The panel was led by one of our very own Beans, Susan Bolam, MD, along with Ben McCormack (Editor of SquareMeal) and Dave Rooney (Creative Director and Founding Partner of LXA). Held in the heart of Hotelympia, one of the premier foodservice events in the calendar, we set out to discover what the perfect restaurant would look like and asked ourselves ‘What is The Ultimate Dining Experience?’

The journey to find the ultimate dining experience began towards the end of 2017, when Hotelympia commissioned SquareMeal to carry out a survey of 1,500 foodies. The results were then given to LXA to design and create a restaurant concept using this insight. LXA constructed their interpretation of the data on the Hotelympia show floor for guests to observe and experience for themselves. This concept was named as ‘Violet’ – an immersive restaurant experience and looked amazing – managing to showcase a number of takes on the ultimate dining experience.

Throughout the discussion, our panellists debated what makes the perfect dining experience. The overall consensus of the research was that we want a dimly lit, well designed, casual/yet sophisticated ‘bistro’ restaurant with a good reputation and low-level music. Where we have the option to eat outside, choosing from a simple contemporary paper menu with wine-paired traditional dishes which detail both ingredients and provenance. We want to enjoy our food presented on simple tableware, served at our own table by friendly, efficient, smartly turned out staff, while we admire the contemporary artwork on the walls. At the end of which, we get the bill and pay in a speedy fashion.

McCormack of SquareMeal said ‘the perfect experience represents a kind of alchemy where everything comes together: the service, food, environment’ and we couldn’t agree more. Dave of LXA stressed the importance of people, both those serving who become your brand and the company you are in (of course, restaurants can only influence the former!). Hotelympia’s Ultimate Dining Experience combined insight and innovation, giving visitors a clearer understanding of what diners really demand when eating out of home and how to drive their businesses going forward. Dave’s final pearl of wisdom for budding restauranteurs – do your homework and work with the right people. Sound advice, indeed. We walked away informed, inspired and just a little hungry.