Candlelight and dim lighting might set a romantic mood for restaurant diners, but a new study has suggested that it may mean foodies think their meal tastes worse.
Turning the lights down is a common tactic used by restaurants to create an atmosphere and even, some studies have suggested, make us stay longer and eat more food.
But now, experts in the Netherlands revealed that diners found the taste of their food more intense when eating it in a brightly lit restaurant compared to a dark one.
The new research showed that ambience is not the only thing affected by changing the lighting settings.
For the study, 138 customers were served the same four-course menu at a fine dining restaurant, but the lighting levels were changed on different evenings.
After the meal the customers were told the menu was new and were asked to fill in a questionnaire on how much they had enjoyed their meal.
The overall “taste intensity” of each dish was rated on a scale of one to nine by the diners with the higher score meaning the experience was more enjoyable. Guests were also asked to rate the pleasantness of the lighting.
The authors, from the Maastricht University School of Business in the Netherlands, said: “Guests in the bright ambient light condition rated the overall taste as more intense as opposed to guests in the dim ambient light condition. “The illuminance level was perceived as equally pleasant in both the bright and dim ambient light condition.”