It may be a craving for a dish or a hankering for a particular cuisine that triggers you to dine out, but it's the things you saw but didn't really see while you were there that affect you more than you might realise. The low lighting. The soft touch of the chairs. The gentle curves of the tableware. The smattering of greenery.
While what's on the plate or in your glass might be the star attraction, design is what often brings the space together and shapes your experience.
Designers Lisa Capezio and Aaron Copeland from Capezio Copeland are behind these experiences at many of Canberra's top eateries and bars.
If you've eaten out in Canberra, you've probably experienced their creations, from eightysix in Braddon, to XO in Narrabundah, or Badger and Co at ANU to name a few, plus recent refurbishments at Ostani and Lilotang in Barton.
The duo and their team work closely with hospitality owners to bring concepts to life, while striking the intricate balance of customer experience and venue operation.
"Sometimes we have clients with ideas about a concept but they won't have a space, so we'll help them find a space," Copeland says.
"Sometimes they have a space but not much of an idea, so we'll be heavily involved with coming up with the idea for the space.
"And sometimes they'll have a space and a very strong idea on what they want to do and we'll work with them to execute and bring it together with them."
A challenge in Canberra is the age of the buildings - or the lack thereof. While many venues in other capital cities make the most of heritage buildings or older warehouses by harnessing the character they bring, designers in Canberra often have to create it from scratch.
Sometimes, there's enough to draw on, like in the case of all-day eatery Morning Glory, which opened in late 2018.
Located in a heritage building in New Acton that burnt down and was rebuilt, Capezio and Copeland were able to easily incorporate the building's unique characteristics and capture the light from the neighbouring courtyard.
Sometimes the design is dictated by a key feature, like when eightysix opened not-so-quietly in Braddon back in 2013.
It was one of the first restaurants in town specifically designed around the open kitchen concept, and Copeland says they designed the rest of the venue around that, using a refined, industrial fitout.
Other times, the venue starts as little more than a concrete shell, like in the case of Lanterne Rooms, which has just reopened on Constitution Avenue in the Iskia development after a very successful stint at the Campbell shops. Stepping inside the brand new space, it feels surprisingly established.
"[Owner] Josiah Li wanted it to feel like you were stepping into an old building in Penang in Malaysia," says Capezio.
They've achieved that through the use of large cane ceiling fans, and the use of materials with a bit of history or age, like stained wood and floorboards which were literally ripped up and reinstalled as is, plus a series of arches which separate the space into smaller dining rooms, creating a more intimate dining experience.
"This was an example of a client who had a very strong idea and examples of what he wanted to achieve. He gave us all these amazing old books on Penang and the history and architecture or food to inspire us. So we had all this reference material to prompt and inspire the ideas," Copeland says.
While design trends are always evolving, the biggest change has been the rise of meal delivery services, which means more people are dining in.
"For many people the restaurant experience is becoming critical - it's all about having a memorable experience and entertainment. We have to give customers something different than they'll get at home so they make the effort to come out," Capezio says.
And while the design is intricately created to evoke a strong emotional reaction, subtlety is the key. In fact, you may not consciously notice any of this at all.
"I think when a concept is good, it's not something that smacks you in the face. It's something that grows on you and makes you feel something or evokes an emotional response, rather than being brutally upfront," Copeland says.