Casual diners may find it hard to digest, but a crisp linen tablecloth really does make food taste better!
A new study has revealed that what dinner is served on is almost as important as what is in it.
Diners were asked to rate their eating experience after eating off either linen or paper tablecloths.
Researchers found that customers who ate off linen were almost 10 per cent more likely to give their seal of approval to the meal.
The experiment was carried out among almost 250 paying diners in a real French restaurant.
Fabric and paper were selected as the most commonly used tablecloths in restaurant settings.
While food quality and choice of dishes were the most important elements of a meal for 94 per cent of diners, 90 per cent rated the environment highly, and three-quarters said the linen was key with white being the preferred colour.
The Danish researchers, led by Dr Jing Liu of Copenhagen University, said it showed that eating out was about more than just the food.
The study, published in journal Food Quality and Preference, concluded: "The cutlery, plate ware, glassware, condiment containers, menus, and atmosphere can have significant effects on people's perception of, and response to, foods and beverages.
"A better service, ambience and overall experience at the restaurant were obtained when the fabric table linen was used in contrast to the paper table linen."