10 of the world’s more unusual restaurants
1. s’ Baggers, Nuremburg, Germany
Making slow service and difficult waiters a thing of the past, this fully-automated restaurant in Nuremberg boasts hassle-free dining and fast, highly efficient service (well this is Germany). Food is ordered by touchscreen and dishes whizz straight from the kitchen via a system of metal rails that loop across the ceiling before spiralling down to be promptly delivered at each table.
2. Fortezza Medicea, Italy
Restaurants don’t come much more exclusive than this. Just to dine at Fortezza Medicea customers must have intensive background checks, clearance by the Ministry of Justice, and then pass a series of security checkpoints, looming watchtowers and a barrage of surveillance cameras. All to dine inside one of Italy’s top security prisons. Running since 2006, this rehab project has proved wildly popular, although with Mafiosi, armed robbers and murders as chefs here, unsurprisingly complaints are seldom voiced.
3. Da Ping Huo, Hong Kong
Amongst the best of Hong Kong’s private kitchens, this little hideout is a local favourite. Behind an unmarked door the dimly-lit basement flat is covered with paintings by the charismatic owner-artist Wang Hai (instantly recognisable by his quirky horn-rimmed glasses). His wife, Wong Sui King serves up twelve courses of eye-wateringly spicy Sichuan favourites such as carrot and jellyfish in chilli before startling guests by bursting out into haunting Sichuanese love songs.
4. Dans le Noir, London
Taking the blind date concept one step further, London's Dans le Noir promises to transform your dining experience by serving supper in total darkness. Diners can chose from four secret menus (fish, meat, vegetarian or surprise) before entering the blacked-out dining room and being guided to their seat and served by blind waiters. Being enveloped in darkness will heighten the senses, while tasks such as pouring your own wine and leaving with a clean shirt may take on a new dimension.
5. Modern Toilet, Taiwan
From hospital-themed diners to restaurants where ninjas swing from the rafters, Taiwan is no stranger to absurdity when it comes to eating out. Now with over ten locations, Modern Toilet amuses and disgusts in equal measure. Customers sit on toilets around bathtub-tables, while bathroom paraphernalia protrudes from every wall. For those who can stomach it, the food is an onslaught of poo-themed delights, with wonders such as turd-shaped bread and “haemorrhoid” strawberry ice cream gracing its menu.
6. Dinner in the sky, Belgium
Imagine dining whilst floating 150ft off the ground, legs dangling freely as your seat gently sways in the breeze. This unsettling concept promises to elevate the dining experience for the 22 strapped-in dinners that perch around a six-ton table suspended by a giant crane. Based in Brussels, the restaurant can be hired anywhere in the world from Paris to Niagara Falls – all for sky-high prices, of course.
7. Sarastro, London
Opulent, gaudy and unforgettably theatrical, this over-the-top opera-themed restaurant has been entrancing diners since 1996. Private boxes and elegant balconies in a myriad of styles, from Rococo to Byzantine, overlook the bustling restaurant. Every nook and cranny is crammed with gold furnishings, velvet drapes, a multitude of ornate lamps and an overwhelming hotchpotch of stage props, flamboyant artworks and theatrical curiosities. The ladies’ toilets also seem to be decorated with scenes from the Karma Sutra.
8. El Diablo, Lanzarote
Taking the barbeque to the extreme, Lanzarote’s El Diablo restaurant cooks its meat over an active volcano. Built over a hole in the ground, nine layers of volcanic basalt were needed to fortify the grill against the singeing 500-degree temperatures emitted from the bubbling lava below. And the views aren’t bad either – the restaurant boasts panoramic vistas of Timanfaya National Park’s expanse of red sands, rocky peaks and gaping chasms.
9. Muru’s "pop-down", Finland
Putting a fresh twist on the urban obsession with pop-ups, Muru became the world’s first "pop-down" restaurant. In the southern Finnish town of Lohja, customers were invited to plunge 80 metres underground, to dine in an old limestone mine. In the sultry, rocky enclave lit with suspended lamps and flickering candles at each table, diners could enjoy a menu inspired by "Elemental Earth" featuring imaginative dishes such as flambéed escargot in Pernod.
10. Cat Café Calico, Japan
Once the preserve of eccentric spinsters, surrounding yourself with a posse of feline friends is now big business in Japan. In fact, fluffy havens like Cat Café Calico are fast becoming dating hotspots, with weekend reservations essential for those wishing to sip a latte or surf the net amongst its twenty-odd cats. Like Tokyo’s other fifty or so popular cat cafés, this place helps to fill the void left by the city’s cramped no-pet apartments and hectic lifestyle.
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