PaperSpecsGallery.com Presents: Estuary Restaurant Menu Design
I have to admit I am a bit of a foodie. And while the food itself is important, ultimately it is the whole experience, from the wait staff to the menus, that truly set a restaurant apart. Take these beautiful menus for the upscale Washington, D.C., restaurant Estuary. Their delicate intermingling of foil, textures, and illustration encourage diners to contemplate the Chesapeake Bay that inspires both the chefs and their cuisine. (Fun fact: You might recall Chefs Bryan and Michael Voltaggio from 2009’s season of “Top Chef;” the latter won. To date, they have teamed up for three restaurants in all.)
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Offering scenic views of the nation’s capital from the third floor of the Conrad Hotel, Estuary serves up unexpected dishes – crab stuffed in a toasted brioche roll with a garnish of crab-shaped plantain chips, for example – using ingredients from many different points along the bay. This gastronomic playfulness reminds us of what an “estuary” actually is: a place where freshwater rivers meet the salty sea; a blending of opposites.
In this menu design, we find a different type of blending. Let’s start with the covers, which show off the restaurant’s name in a luxurious copper foil stamping on a somewhat rough, highly textured Holliston Arrestox B cloth wrapped over 98-pt. binder board: a mix of the lofty with the down-to-earth. That said, even the foil alongside the name looks as if it’s been swiped against the fabric like paint along a wooden fence. The custom-ordered screw-post binding not only matches that foil, but further emphasizes the rough, handmade look of the menu design.
I’m sure it will come as no surprise to discover that opening the menu reveals equally impressive attention to detail, starting with an eye-catching fish-scale pattern foil stamped on the inside covers. One of the highlights, however, is the menu sheets themselves.
Many of their design elements are pre-printed offset with the ever-changing list of entrees and appetizers printed on them at the restaurant. The pièce de résistance? A gorgeous map of the Chesapeake Bay, including the animals sourced for the menu, as well as – you guessed it, its estuaries – all foil stamped and lithographed in the restaurant’s signature Copper hue.
Sabine Lenz is the founder of PaperSpecs.com, the first online paper database and community specifically designed for paper specifiers.
Growing up in Germany, Sabine started her design career in Frankfurt, before moving to Australia and then the United States. She has worked on design projects ranging from corporate identities to major road shows and product launches. From start-ups to Fortune 500 companies, her list of clients included Oracle, Sun Microsystems, Deutsche Bank, IBM and KPMG.
Seeing designers struggle worldwide to stay current with new papers and paper trends inspired Sabine to create PaperSpecs, an independent and comprehensive Web-based paper database and weekly e-newsletter. She is also a speaker on paper issues and the paper industry. Some refer to her lovingly as the "paper queen" who combines her passion for this wonderful substrate called paper with a hands-on approach to sharing her knowledge.