One of the country’s three-star Michelin restaurants has erected a sign telling diners not to photograph their food.
The first instinct of many restaurant-goers when their meal arrives is not to eat it, but to take a mobile phone picture and upload it to Instagram.
At the Waterside Inn in Bray, Berkshire, where the six-course tasting menu costs £167.50 without drinks, the practice has been outlawed.
“I’m really getting so upset about people taking pictures. We put up a card at the door – ‘No photos, please,’” said Michel Roux, who founded the restaurant with his brother, Albert.
“What are they doing? Maybe once during the meal you want to take a little photo of something because it’s unusual. But what about the flavours?” he told the Daily Mail.
“A picture on a phone cannot possibly capture the flavours.”
The restaurant is now run by Roux’s son, Alain. Albert’s son, Michel Roux Jr, is chef-patron at the family’s other temple to fine dining, Le Gavroche, and is more relaxed about customers photographing the food.
He said last year: “If someone’s phone goes off, we look at them as if to say, ‘Switch that off or it goes in the ice bucket.’” But he added: “I don’t mind people taking pictures. I’ve been known to do it myself.”
The Waterside Inn has held three Michelin stars since 1985. Four other restaurants currently have the coveted three stars: Heston Blumenthal’s Fat Duck, also in Bray; Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester; Restaurant Gordon Ramsay in Chelsea; and newcomer Araki, a London sushi restaurant with just nine seats.
Araki is happy for customers to whip out their mobile phones or cameras, provided they do not disturb other diners.
A spokesman said: “This restaurant does not limit anyone who wants to take pictures. All that we ask is that people do not use flash.”
A food trends report issued last year by Waitrose found that one-third of those aged 18 to 34 regularly post pictures of their meals on social media.
The backlash against Instagramming food began in France, where a group of leading chefs banded together in 2014 to campaign against smartphone pictures.
Alexandre Gauthier, chef at the Grenouillere restaurant near Calais, said diners spent so long trying to get the perfect photograph that their food went cold. “Before, they took photos of their family, of their granny – now it’s photos of the dishes,” he complained.