From the looks of things, there are some restaurants that have it hands down, with visually stunning food presentations that are truly so beautiful that eating them seems to be an almost sacrilegious slur on some level. When food is made to look this lovely and visually engaging, surely a significant aspect of the dining process must be to simply sit a moment or so, in silent repose, serenely taking in the absolute intention of colors, textures and shapes–and how they interrelate with each other upon the plate or serving device. Kudos, to these, and many more fine dining establishments that have gone the extra mile to deliver meals as a new art form that can not be ignored.

This menu item awaits an order by patrons of Chicago’s Alinea restaurant. It consists of a meringue made of exotic and rare black truffle in a process that causes it to look like concrete. And in much the same way that tiny blades of grass can sometimes be seen sprouting up through pavement, they’ve arranged spring veggies and herbs that spring forth through cracks of “concrete” merengue. Upon delivery, the server performs a theatrical modernist effect, whereby the concrete receives a sprayed-on carrot spray from a can–healthy, too.

Okonomiyaki Silver Dollars, Grilled Octopus, Kewpie Mayo
You’ll have to travel to NYC to dine on this exotic combo, where Alder restaurant offers this very popular dish. Don’t judge it by its name, as this dish arrives as a perfect stack of tiny pancakes upon a plate, with a nice pat of (Japanese mayo) “butter,” right on top. The “syrup” for these diminutive hotcakes exactly mimics standard pancake syrup–just like Aunt Jemima might serve up.

Corn Soup
Louisville, Kentucky is home to 610 Magnolia, where chef Ed Lee puts on a tableside production to add performance art to the fine art created by the soup with such a simple name. This super fresh puree of corn includes corn milk and their own buttermilk, speckled with green pumpkin seed oil. The performance is in the pouring of this delicious feast for the eyes into a bowl masterfully prepared with corn gel, dried corn silk and popcorn shoots, which are only three inches long sweet corn.

The Arctic Bird’s Nest
If you happen to find yourself going to or in NYC, you must visit the dining mecca Aquavit, where still kind of “newcomer” Chef Emma Bengtsson, in only a short span has earned two Michelin stars. With a rich experience as a former pastry chef, her eye for exact detail and composition is unmatched. This incredibly beautiful dessert is a brilliant assemblage of sea-buckthorn curd, goat cheese parfait, blueberry sorbet, honey tuile, dried brownie and–yogurt snow. Such a feast for both the eyes, and the soul!