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Queries: Are SF Restaurant Designs Boring? If So, Why?

Right on cue with Coi's four-star accolades yesterday—and Bauer's description of the interior as "understated"—someone hits on a topic of conversation that we've been recently thinking about lately too, especially when it comes to the heavyweights of the dining scene taken as a whole: the visual aesthetics of the many great Bay Area restaurants, or rather, the lack of aesthetics:

Point is, I think the Bay Area has some of the best restaurants in the world. Period. But while all the focus seems to go on the food and service, the architecture and design are, simply put, boring. I can't help but wonder why.
You can blame the city's laid-back style, our intransigent building codes or simply the local cost of business. The fact is, in America's most forward-thinking city, when it comes to restaurant design, our heads are well buried in the sand.
The past year has seen a few newcomers with flashier designs, but there's no denying that most restaurants—including many of the four-stars—aren't too concerned about aesthetics. Instead, they opti to put the focus on the plate, which it should be said, has worked out just fine for most of them. We suppose this phenomenon can be attributed to a number of things, be it the fear of being labeled gimmicky (see: Waterbar), the Chez Panisse effect, or as surmised, simply a laid-back attitude. So we ask you: are restaurant designs here particularly boring? If so, why? And more importantly, would you want to see more noteworthy designs?
· Entremet: Why so boring? [No Salad]

[Photo: Coi/David Wakely]