by Rachel Walker
An unusual image has filled-up my Instagram feed recently: French toast with bright green ice cream, served on a blue and white china plate. The photograph is the only pudding on offer at London's modern Japanese restaurant, Shackfuyu.
Restaurant reviewer Grace Dent declared: "I'm calling the kinako French toast the greatest new pudding in London for 2015." Instagrammer, Clerkenwell Boy then followed-up with a photograph of the iconic dish, along with the caption: "Completely agree with @gracedent ... the Kinako French Toast @shackfuyu is my favourite thing right now!"
Soon there were queues round the corner as Londoners lined up to try the dessert. Only the allure was more than just the opportunity to try the dish – but the opportunity to photograph the dish too.
Instagram and Twitter are both arenas for restaurant-goers to showcase what and where they've been eating. And amassing photographs has become akin to collecting stamps or filling a never-ending sticker album.
It's in restaurants' interests to develop a signature dish which is instantly-recognisable. Something which allows guests to post a photograph, and for their followers to immediately know they've managed to get a seat at Bao London, or MEATliquor.
A glance at the photograph of matcha green ice cream and French toast can, for instance, only mean Shackfuyu. Similarly a shot of 'meat fruit' is instantly recognisable as Dinner by Heston Blumenthal, as well as the crispy duck leg confit, which is unique to Duck and Waffle.
Another tactic is to have easily-identifiable tableware. It might be the Berlusconi Tiki mug at Bunga Bunga, or the pine-filled baskets which The Clove Club serve their buttermilk chicken in. But by creating some sort of signature serve, restaurants entice guests to come and 'collect' that iconic photograph for themselves.
With lists like 'London's 30 Most Instagrammed Restaurants' having a lot of sway, and restaurant-goers increasingly keen to furnish their instagram feeds with recent dinner experiences, it's more important than ever for a restaurant to have a strong, colourful and dramatic signature dish. Particularly one which works well with Instagram filters!
Photo credits: Rachel Walker, Matcha French Toast