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Why This Top Restaurant Just Banned Instagram

“What about the flavours? A picture on a phone cannot possibly capture the flavours.”

Phoebe Hurst

Phoebe Hurst

Photo via Flickr user J. Annie Wang

For many of us, taking photos of our dinner has become as second nature as grabbing a napkin or sprinkling the salt shaker. And don't pretend you've never scattered pomegranate seeds over an otherwise uninspiring salad or plated your pasta in a more colourful dish, just for the 'gram. We're obsessed with photographing what we're eating, and if it has a yolk we can break or cheese we can pull, all the better.

But if you happen to be eating at The Waterside Inn in Berkshire, you'll have to put your phone away. The three-Michelin-starred restaurant has recently introduced a new rule in its dining room: no photos, please.

No, literally—no photos. Brothers Michel and Albert Roux, founders of The Waterside Inn and described as the "godfathers of modern restaurant cuisine in the UK," have installed a new sign by the door of the restaurant that reads: "No photos, please."

Speaking to The Daily Mail, Michel explained that the new rule was designed to encourage diners to enjoy the taste of the dishes, rather than getting distracted by Instagram. He said: "Maybe once during the meal, you want to take a little photo of something because it's unusual. But what about the flavours? A picture on a phone cannot possibly capture the flavours."

Michel might have a point. Founded by the brothers in 1972 and now headed up by Michel's son Alain, The Waterside Inn is one of only five operating three-Michelin-starred restaurants in Britain, along with Heston Blumenthal's The Fat Duck and one of Gordon Ramsay's restaurants. A six-course tasting menu costs £167.50. When you're handing over that kind of cash for a meal out, there's a good argument for focusing on the flavours, not the filters.

The Roux brothers aren't the first restaurateurs to instigate a no-photos rule, either. In 2014, Michelin starred French chef Alexandre Gauthier introduced a small image of a camera with a line through it on his menus, urging diners to "Tweet about the meal beforehand, tweet about it afterwards, but in between stop and eat." Back in 2008, David Chang famously banned photos at Momofuku Ko, telling would-be food bloggers: "It's just food. Eat it."

But if you eat something and don't Instagram it, does it really exist?