Restaurant reviewers tend to be myopic creatures: They can't see past the food. Sure, they may remark on the service or the plating. But when was the last time you read a write-up that mentioned the menu design? Fortunately, the James Beard Foundation Awards corrects that oversight by honoring the unsung collaborators -- the designers -- who make dining experiences that much more enjoyable.
This week, the ad agency Love and War won the Outstanding Graphics award for their work on Midtown Manhattan's National Bar & Dining Rooms, whose identity is that of an old-school bistro with a quirky, hipster twist.
The New York?based Love and War worked closely with Geoffrey Zakarian (chef and officious judge on the cooking-competition TV show "Chopped?), Denihan Hospitality (owner), and Rockwell Group (restaurant-design czars) to create everything from the logos emblazoned on the staff uniforms to the '50s-style tableware. A consistent motif in the brand design is a series of turn-of-the-century etchings that the designers deployed subtly and sparingly, placing them on the inside cover of a matchbook and the center of a drink coaster. So how's the food" Uh, we didn't notice.