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 DC 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.)
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 fresh water rivers meet the salty sea; a blending of opposites.
An ‘Estuary’ of Great Menu Design
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 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 [PRO Guide to 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, are 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.
But I can’t help returning to that lovely screw-post binding, a technique that allows you to add as many pages as you’d like to a project, mixing stocks to your heart’s content. It’s just one of your many, many binding options. See them all – including page counts and relative costs involved – when you download our free Binding Cheat Sheet.