Avant-Garde Restaurants That Tickle More Than Your Tastebuds
Is the thought of another sit-and-eat meal lulling you to sleep? Shake up your dinner with a multi-sensory gourmet adventure that not only arouses your taste buds, but also engages your senses in creative ways. Here are six progressive fine dining options that are experimental and whimsical, unlike anything you’ve eaten before.
If you see transparent helium balloons at Alinea, chances are, they’re part of a dish. Designed by chef Mike Bagale, these whimsical floating edibles (which are essentially desserts made of taffy and dehydrated green apples) offer just a taste of what Alinea is capable of.
Opened in 2005 by chef Grant Achatz, this three-Michelin-starred establishment in Chicago is an exemplar of culinary creativity, turning mere ingredients into unexpected plates that play with emotions of nostalgia and joy.
Case in point: Alinea’s high-end take on the classic peanut butter and jelly sandwich has left many jaws flat on the ground. Expect anything from artful platters with sauces drizzled in the style of Jackson Pollock, to elevated sweets presented in an ordinary popcorn box.
Dinner in the Sky
Elevate your meal, literally, with a Dinner in the Sky experience—the brainchild of culinary communications firm Hakuna Matata and The Fun Group, a company specialising in amusement park installations. Its first sky-high gourmet service took off in 2006. Since then, it’s flown to 45 countries for more than 5,000 events.
This novel idea started with a “flying dinner table” that’s equipped with secure seats (much like that of rollercoaster rides). Gourmet chefs are then invited up to demonstrate their culinary finesse to an intimate group of participants.
While it offers the ultimate roof-top experience with the most unparalleled panoramas, it isn’t for the faint-hearted or those with a fear of heights. You won’t want to upchuck your meal out right in front of the chef.
El Celler de Can Roca
Located in Catalonia, Spain, El Celler de Can Roca is more than a gourmet restaurant. In 2013, it combined the culinary arts with a diversity of multi-disciplinary art forms, such as electronica, opera, films, paintings, digital projects and analogue embellishments.
Earning a name of themselves as a gastronomic icon perfect for hungry adventurers, the establishment continues to innovate, dreaming up recipes that are inspired by perfumes and platters that include hidden motors and paper globes.
You wouldn’t think this flamboyant restaurant is, in fact, a family business, run by three brothers (Joan Roca the head chef, Jordi Roca the pastry chef, and Josep Roca the sommelier).
You’re in for a world of whimsy the moment you step into Los Angeles’ Barton G, an outlandishly over-the-top joint that breaks every rule and crosses every boundary. Sometimes, the reactions to what the waiter brings to your table are simply a schizophrenic swirl of confusion, amusement, shock and astonishment.
Constantly straddling the line between artistic and kitschy, Barton G’s creations include giant cotton candy made to look like a pink wig on an effigy, s’mores tarts that resemble gold bars, and three-foot forks that come with a plate of steak.
It’s almost like the real-life incarnation of Willy Wonka’s chocolate shop—except instead of Willy Wonka, the brain behind the leftfield restaurant is Barton G. Weiss, an author, concept designer and hotelier.
Established in 2012, this relative newcomer has already risen through the ranks as a worthy contender in fine dining, earning a spot in the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list just three years after its inception. Promising an immersive and exclusive treat, Ultraviolet boasts a minimalist setup of a single table surrounded by four walls of projections.
Images also light up on the table itself, while music flow through its multi-channel speakers. Even the scent of the environment is controlled. At Ultraviolet, no detail is too small. To further enhance the otherworldly atmosphere, diners are not told the exact location of the restaurant, instructed instead to meet at a designated point and wait to be escorted.
When it comes to the food, chef Paul Pairet spares no expense either. Each dish is sophisticated, yet witty, playing tricks on the eye while satisfying one’s taste buds.
Image Credit: El Celler de Can Roca