We are fortunate to be home to some of the world’s finest restaurants, but the cost of dining at our four top venues almost adds up to the amount needed for a flight to Europe – and that’s no lie.
So, with that in mind, you may wish to pony up for a plane ticket and venture offshore for a ‘bucket list’ dining experience instead – one that you’ll remember forever. I’ve put together a list of international restaurants that certainly tickle my fancy. If you’re an armchair traveller like me and probably won’t ever have the chance to visit these venues, well, I thought it might be nice to share them with you as inspiration.
Now, as chefs can come and go as restaurants are bought and sold, I thought I’d focus more so on the venues themselves, with food a very close second. So feast your eyes on these visionary venues.
5. Ekstedt, Stockholm
Ekstedt blends modern cuisine with traditional Scandinavian cooking. It’s a perfect combination of old and new – and when we say old, we mean old. The chefs at Ekstedt use no electricity to cook the food, as they have chosen to go back to their roots and cook in fire pits, or with wood-burning ovens and hot coals.
And they really do present the method of cooking as a feature, as expressed on the delectable menu. Presently, Ekstedt is serving dishes such as ‘From the ashes wild duck, truffled cabbage and tarred vinegar’ and ‘Blackened langoustine (Norway lobster), kohlrabi and smoked butter’. Sounds nice. Most of us will never taste its food, but it’s still nice to dream!
4. At.mosphere, Dubai
I’m not sure how my stomach would react to eating a meal at 442m off the ground, and that’s precisely the challenge diners also face when eating at At.mosphere, which is situated on the 122nd floor of the Burj Khalifa.
Currently rated as the Guinness World Record Holder for the Highest Restaurant from Ground Level, At.mosphere offers the chance for fine dining connoisseurs and lounge lovers to literally dine in the clouds, so if you’re not afraid of heights and find yourself in Dubai some day, book yourself a window seat, enjoy the view and get high on the fine fare offered by highly respected French chef Jerome Lagarde.
3. Per Aquum Huvafen Fushi, Maldives
To be honest, I’ve never heard of Per Aquum Huvafen Fushi – in fact, I can barely pronounce the word itself, but boy, does this island location in the Maldives look dreamy. At its signature dining venue Salt, which is set in an open-water pavilion over the crystal-clear waters of the Maldives, chefs will “lavish you with luxurious flavours from land and sea”. You can dine on al fresco decks or reserve a private dining cove and watch the cooks at work in their open kitchen.
And if that doesn’t sound decadent enough for you, then the next night you could dine under a perfect tropical island sky in the boudoir of the Cardamom Lounge, or under the palms, or on a man-made sand table and recliner, with one of Per Aquum Huvafen Fushi’s destination private dining experiences. They’ll organise your idyllic dining experience (just look at the pics to see what I mean) and provide you with a private chef for the evening.
You can then finish off your night eight metres below the sand, choosing wine from a range of 6000 rare vintages located in the Vinum underground wine cellar. Now, how does that sound?
2. Sketch, London
I just love the look of this place. It’s colourful, decadent and luxurious and, when its walls aren’t adorned with the work of highly respected international artists, Sketch is a work of art in itself.
Located in the heart of London, it’s not only the interior of the restaurant that is amazing, but also the food served by Michelin-star-awarded-chef Pierre Gagnaire promises to be imaginative, bold and delicious. Oh, and if you’re lucky to dine at Sketch, make sure you check out the bathrooms – they’re an experience all to themselves.
1. White Rabbit, Moscow
Located under a glass dome on the 16th floor of Smolenskiy Passage, White Rabbit is an Alice in Wonderland-themed restaurant which embraces Russia’s amazing natural produce and presents it in a fantastic (literally) package. Head chef Vladimir Mukhin claims to have borscht running through his veins, but if traditional soviet food is what you’re after, then you may be in for a shock, as the Russian staples are given a modern makeover through the use of contemporary techniques and international ingredients.
White Rabbit’s eclectic menu blends traditional Russian produce such as borodinsky black bread, borscht and barrel cucumbers, with sumptuous ingredients such as caviar, truffle and foie gras.
But it’s the dining room lifted straight from the pages of Lewis Carroll’s famous fairy tale, complemented by rococo furnishings, quirky portraits of rabbits and a 360-view of historic Moscow that makes White Rabbit so beautiful, modern and daring in a truly unique way.
What do you think of these restaurants? What’s the most favourite place in which you’ve dined? Do you have an idyllic dining experience?