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Awesome or annoying? New York restaurant encourages photo-taking

An image taken from the #ComodoMenu Instagram hashtag feed.


It's widely accepted that we eat with our eyes and now, it seems, we can eat with our Instagram.

A New York restaurant has cleverly integrated the photo-sharing site into their dining experience, encouraging people to Instagram pictures of the dishes with a designated hashtag, #ComodoMenu.

By using the hashtag, diners can see the food – Latin American-inspired fare like mezcal octopus with kale and poblano pepper pasta – before ordering (or backtrack even further, before making a reservation) while also engaging in a distinctly modern communal activity.

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The restaurant has created a short video.

As James Collier of the blog Adzag explains, "Obviously acutely aware that Instagram only has three uses, food porn, baby snaps and cat photos, it has looked to capitalize on the food angle."

At the bottom of the menu – where fine print often suggests alerting the kitchen to allergies – are three words: "#ComodoMenu on Instagram." No further explanation or instruction. Either snap-happy patrons know what this means and play along, or they don't even notice and hand the menu back to their server.

Either way, it's as optional as ordering the flourless chocolate cake.

But with an official hashtag, the restaurant now has a way of tracking and collecting all the pictures. It also ensures that the dishes never leave the kitchen without looking photogenic.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, husband and wife Felipe Donnelly and Tamy Rofe formerly worked in advertising before opening Comodo a few months ago. The restaurant represents the evolution of the small dinners they hosted and blogged about in their New York home.

The #ComodoMenu idea is ultimately a crowd-sourced update on takeout menus where you order by image. There are those who bemoan the fact that dining out has devolved into an amateur photo shoot with flashbulbs disrupting the ambiance. Certainly, the restaurant's initiative will encourages even more of this behaviour.

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But it didn't seem annoying enough to affect the restaurant's review in The New York Times last week. The critic described Comodo as "that little out-of-the-way place you search for from the moment you move to New York, that you stumble upon one hazy night and make yours."

Well, the searching part will certainly be easier now. The question remains: How quickly will other establishments follow suit? And then how long before restaurants bar photography altogether?

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