Tincan: the restaurant serving only tinned fish

I don’t know about you, but I’m a big fan of niche cuisine restaurants. They’re like the musical sub-genres of the food world. And Tincan in London is totally the underground Japanese Ska. I would say it even rivals the Cat Cafe in uniqueness. 

From a designer’s point of view, I’m all for it. Now, I’ve never been a particularly big fan of food that comes in tins, aside from the occasional can of soup. If you tried to get me to try Spam, for example, there would need to be a pretty clever ruse involved, otherwise you’d be able to find me across the street. However, the thought of being surrounded by hundreds of well-designed and eclectic tins of all shapes and sizes has me wanting to burst through the bounds of my comfort zone in favor of preserved seafood. Who woulda thunk it?


Would you ever guess that we’re huge foodies over here at City Dining Cards?  Yesterday our in-house cheesologist/tacologist/espressologist, Robin, introduced us to ChefSteps - a series of instructional videos and recipes by an experimental group of chefs, scientists, and artists.  If you’ve ever wanted to learn how to make a classic French macaron, butcher a large lingcod (who hasn’t?), or concoct the perfect apple gin gimlet then search no more.  ChefSteps does an amazing job at explaining the science of food, and I think we can all agree that high school chemistry would have gone a lot better had we been watching these videos the whole time.  Check out this video explaining why your hand won’t instantly freeze from dipping it in liquid nitrogen, and beware the clickhole.


Our co-conspirator Ryan likes beer, and you know City Dining Cards likes beer! 


As the weekend approaches, my mind—and I suspect many people’s minds—begins to wander towards thoughts of the myriad delicious adult refreshments that I could be enjoying in the coming evenings.
As a designer, beer drinker and full-time hell-raiser, the marketing of these products has always fascinated me, now more so than ever with the craft beer revolution in full swing. This explosion of micro-breweries has created an unfathomably competitive market with thousands of major players where the look of your product is somehow even more paramount than it always is in any other market. Your bottle label now has to tell a complete narrative about where your beer came from, how it was made, what kind of values your brewery holds et cetera in order to inform would-be consumers awash in a ocean of craft beer to choose from and inspire them to pick your sixer over the others on the shelf. That sure sounds like the perfect recipe for some really cool packaging design and marketing to me. 
In my opinion, one company who is really championing this idea and successfully executing it with the utmost in taste and elegance is the Spoetzl Brewery, the Texan producers of Shiner Beer. They are a long-standing player in the craft beer game with roots dating back to the turn of the century (and I mean the 20th century) but they recently had a bit of an identity crisis following some big expansion which caused them to fall out of favor with the modern beer drinker and his obsession with small craft microbrews.
In a stroke of brilliance, they hired the amazing Austin-based agency McGarrah Jessee to completely refresh their brand and rethink everything from their logo to product development and put together a fully integrated advertising campaign—totally a dream job for me (I can think of a few Buffalo breweries I’d love to have a crack at). The results they came up with are beautiful, elegant, successful and, most importantly, delicious (the Wild Hare IPA is a personal favorite). One look at any of their beers or the marketing collateral built around them and you instantly get the following facts about Shiner loud and clear: a) It’s definitely from Texas; b) It’s also somehow German (think Christoph Waltz as Dr. King Schultz); c) It’s been around for a really long time and has a rich, proud history, d) It’s clearly not made by a corporate giant; and e) It’s super cool/hip/modern/exciting/and probably a really great beer. All that in a beer label. Now that’s good design!  

You can see McGarrah Jessee’s complete campaign for Shiner here, or you can dive right into the awesome web experience they designed for them, complete with full-frame video, gorgeous environmental product photography, and all the things that really get us hot & bothered here at Block Club.