Staying ahead in the restaurant business means staying on top of your game. Creating exquisite dishes is, of course, a perfect way to express your originality and imagination. After all, food is your core business. But some restaurants take their creativity to the next level, introducing concepts that not only surprise guests, but leave them in awe. It might just inspire you to try something new. Without further ado and in no particular order, we’d like to surprise you with our five favourite newcomers and their amazing concepts!
Iconic window to an underwater world
In Under, Jules Verne’s ‘Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea’ seems to be brought to life. In this restaurant, partially sunken beneath the ice-cold North Atlantic waters of the Norwegian municipality of Lindesnes, guests dine five and a half metres below the surface. Not only do they enjoy a fine establishment, they experience a unique panoramic view of the otherwise rarely visible marine ecosystem and all its inhabitants.
So don’t be surprised when, during dinner, a flock of elder birds swim by, peering inquisitively at the contents of your plate. Or when a diver drops by to do some serious window cleaning. Under turns its restaurant experience into a fascinating submersion into the rarely seen Atlantic marine ecosystem. The restaurant focusses equally on marine research, architecture and gastronomy and is designed with a great deal of consideration for its aquatic neighbours. As time passes, the structure will merge with its environment. The concrete shell will slowly become an artificial reef and a welcoming home for limpets and kelp.
Fresh ingredients and pure, naked flavours are of the utmost importance to Under. Guests can enjoy one set menu, as Head Chef Nicolai Ellitsgaard is convinced this is the best way to showcase the uniqueness of each season and its produce. And who are we to argue? Under is a restaurant you just want to dive right into.
The fun, emotional and provocative hotspot in Chicago
Alinea started back in 2005, so how did the gourmet restaurant (3-star rating) in Chicago earn a spot on this list of our favourite newcomers, you wonder? In fact, Alinea recently reinvented itself with a total redesign and rebuild. The result is an intentional juxtaposition of classical architectural references and modern touchstones. Alinea is a timeless and sophisticated hotspot where every visit is a new, thought-provoking experience.
At Alinea, you don’t go for a specific menu: you go for one of the three unforgettable experiences. First: The Gallery Menu. Built around a multi-sensory 16-18 course menu, the gallery combines fine dining with experimental moments. The Salon Menu in one of the three salons consists of a 10-12 course tasting menu. A more approachable experience, but nevertheless very innovative and satiating for both mind and body.
The final and most intimate, immersive and cutting-edge culinary adventure to experience at Alinea is the new Kitchen Table. Parties of up to six guests enjoy a completely private dining expression, unrivalled anywhere around the globe. Of course, such exceptional experiences come at a certain price. Menu prices range from $190 to $395, but we have been told it’s worth every penny!
3) Restaurant of Order Mistakes, Tokyo
Empathy and awareness are always on the menu
Did you know that approximately 35 million men and women from all over the world suffer from dementia? That’s a huge number of individuals, who are often met with lack of understanding, lack of patience and an abundance of mockery. Not in Restaurant of Order Mistakes. Here, every member of the service crew has been diagnosed with dementia and they may or may not get your order right. It’s a risk, but one you’d love to take!
Instead of seeing the error probability as a negative, the restaurant and guests embrace all the flaws as a delightful part of the experience. Everything on the menu tastes delicious, so no harm done if the wrong dish ends up at your table. But even more important than the food being served is the increasing awareness around dementia. A level of openness and understanding that the owners of this compassionate restaurant hope will spread across the globe. We couldn’t agree more!
4) Glow in the dark Ramen Shop Experience
A legend brought gastronomically and glowingly to life
Over 500 years ago, the Nakamuras, a family of supernatural creatures named yokai, ran a popular ramen business for other mystical creatures. That is, until a storm separated the parents from their children, leaving the shop to be closed. Years later, the Nakurama siblings reunited at the shop to honour their parents. Suddenly strange things started to happen and their produce started to glow. Someone or something was determined to teach the Nakurama children to make ramen just like their parents.
That’s the spooky, spellbinding story behind the award-winning Glow in the dark Ramen Shop Experience. An experience that is taking the world by storm after premiering in Atlanta in January 2019. If you’re lucky enough to secure a seat, you’ll enter a dining experience showcasing high-end glow-in-the-dark food and cocktails created by prize-winning chefs and designers.
All food and drinks are prepared on-site at the mobile kitchen, using only natural ingredients. Before serving, a lumen aspect is added that heightens the senses and brings the ancient story of the Nakamuras to life. Even though the actual dinner only lasts 30 minutes, the total immersive glowing experience, including theatrics, storytelling, art and folklore, will last a lifetime!
5) Dr Smood
Organic foods and drinks for your body, mind and soul
The goal of Dr Smood? Bringing unprocessed, organic food and beverages to the entire world. And, unlike many of its rivals, Dr Smood, founded in 2014, backs this healthy claim by offering a carefully crafted menu of organic performance (super) foods and juice programmes, supported by real science and in-house nutrition experts. The concept is built around a menu with specifically tailored health benefits, mapped to six moods. You can boost your power, beauty, immunity, detox, energy, or your general health.
All products at Dr Smood are USDA certified organic, certified kosher, non-HPP and non-GMO. The menu is bursting with highly nutritious superfoods complete with above average levels of vitamins and minerals. Highly nutritious and highly scrumptious.
Not just the food – from breakfast to pastries, from smoothies (‘Smoodies’) to hot bowls and everything in between, the environment also oozes health. The cafes in Manhattan, New York (five locations) and Miami (also five locations) are all created for guests to relax in an effortlessly cool space. No time to relax? The Grab & Go section and instore Smood Market is stacked with healthy products to take with you.
Share your favourites
There you have it: five extraordinary restaurant concepts that successfully stand out in creativity. Their original way of incorporating compelling storytelling in their establishments might just give you that spark of inspiration needed to discover, develop and share the unique backstory that makes your restaurant shine. We’d love to read all about your favourite creative restaurant concepts. Share them below to inspire your fellow food professionals!