I think in certain settings it is great to see what you eat before you order it, like any place that has a menu that contains the words “basket”, “bucket” or “combo” for example. The main risk in this practice is mis-reprisentation, if you are going to put pictures of the food on menu, make them pictures of your own food.
I am reminded of the first place I at at when I moved to Miami, a Peruvian burger place in South Beach. I remember seeing things like blood sausage along side burgers and fries, which I was okay with. What drove me insane was when I ordered the double cheese burger and fries by pointing to the picture of a juicy burger with melted cheese and the standard lettuce tomato and pickels and something that was not what was in the picture was brought out to me. I clearly remember the brief exchange of words I had with the waitress:
Waitress- “What would you like?”
Jorge- “This” pointing at the picture and tilting it toward the waitress for her to clearly see me pointing at the only picture in that section of the menu.
Waitress- “You want that?” pointing at the same picture I was pointing at
Jorge- “Yes, I would like that” again pointing at the picture
What was brought to me was not a double cheese burger but a mountain of french fries on an oval plate with two bare beef patties on either side. I was in shock, my mind couldn’t break down the events that lead up to this moment:
1. Someone designed the menu and put a cheese burger on it with a picture of a cheese burger.
2. Later on they decided it was more cost effiecient to make a cheese burger without cheese or bread, and just kept the name and picture on the menu without telling anyone.
3. I order the cheese burger
4. The waitress grabs my plate of food knowing that it looks nothing like the picture based my order.
5. I go blind with confusion.
I could have chalked it up to a mix-up with the orders, or maybe the waitress is new and she doesn’t know how things are done there, but what drove me over the edge was when I asked for bread, she looks back at me and asks, “Why?”, like she couldn’t concieve why someone would want bread on their burger that was just brought to them breadless.
While I am sure that this is an isolated incident, and most places who put pictures on their menus actually serve the food as presented in the picture, this is something that haunts me to this day.