Ambiance, how important is it? part one
Taking all food things equal, ie good, food and service and reasonable prices, How important is the way a restaurant looks to if you go back? If a place is elegant with nice pictures and plants and a fireplace to you visit that more often than the place that is plain or worse? Or are there circumstances that fit one or the other and what are they?
For me it is not so much "looks". Comfort would describe it better. Some very elegant places feel comfortable, while some very casual are not. Part of comfort is how well the surroundings mesh with the food. A picnic table with fresh corn on the cob and just out of the ocean lobster is a perfect combo! If I am having a leisurely evening at a place with a focus on more complicated presentations I prefer an atmosphere that helps accentuate the experience. But if it is between two places (and I am just pleasing me) then the food will be the deciding factor!
There are other aspects to the atmosphere than just "looks". Tables/chairs -how close are they positioned and are the chairs conducive to relaxing or designed to make you eat & run. The volume level and choice of music. Professionalism (or lack of) in the waitstaff. Choice of tableware - I kind of like a real glass for my Bourbon! Many layers of nuance. None of them really matter much if the food doesn't measure up!
I'd have to say my order of importance is service, food and then ambience. I've had some of the most wonderful food in the world in a restaurant that was similar to a football field with tables. Then, I've been annoyed by the chintzy pour in a restaurant where the servers wore white gloves.
Nope, ambience not so much.