Where does the line get drawn between real innovation and tacky gimmick?

Ah, eating out. It’s an all-encompassing experience for the senses involving a beautiful medley of flavours, intricate plate presentation, top-notch service and exquisite wine pairings.

As our palates yearn for more, so do restaurants get more adventurous in their offerings, wowing with techniques unheard of and even more obscure ingredients. But where does the line get drawn between real innovation and tacky gimmick?

It’s all in the finesse of how things are executed we think, but having said that, here are 5 trends (read: faux pas) we can definitely see less off.

Liquid nitrogen

It draws oohs and aahs, it’s a sight for the Gram and it’s a pretty way to keep things chilled, but that’s all it essentially is – smoke and mirrors – and we’re done with illusions. Properly used in churning ice cream, it does make for a frozen treat that’s more velvety and smooth and lasts longer, a welcomed change in our hot weather. But when you’re freezing jelly and seafood and even the decorative rocks on a plate with it with no particular objective other than to wow, well, like we said, there’s no objective.

Edible flowers

Sprinkled a little on top of desserts or coffee for a whiff of roses and lavender and we’ll let it pass. But when you’re layering it into cakes, baking it into waffles, building it into sandwiches, stirring it into pasta, we really wonder if that slight veil of floral will help all that much with what you’re eating. In case you haven’t realised, flower petals (fresh or dried) are quite bitter to chew…

Melting chocolate shell

We get the impact of a seemingly unassuming ball of chocolate being melted by more chocolate to reveal treasures inside, but it’s honestly too much work and most times, due to the difference in temperature of the chocolate shell and molten chocolate, what you get is a weird (messy) inconstence in chocolate texture that also messes with the flavour as an aftermath. Also, what did you think was going to happen to chocolate when you pour hot liquids over it? Crumble gracefully? We continue to be amazed… not.

Deconstructed anything

Sometimes, a classic dish is a classic because it’s been tried and tested and proved the best way to be served. Taking it apart and serving its components separately do little to add to its value, just the time needed to consume it. After all that work, it might not even taste as it’s supposed to be because what do we diners know about proportion?

Pop rocks ice desserts

We think this is the lazy person’s way to a granita. It’s like some dessert chef somewhere got too lazy to crystallise the sugar and fruit juices properly and decided to just freeze it in the freezer. Oh no, now it’s lacking that coarse granulated texture, what do we do? Throw in pop rocks (never mind that it will completely throw the sweetness level way off balance) and let it thaw out. Now it’s also crackly and brings you back to your childhood – people will love it.