What draws you to a particular restaurant? For many people, it’s not just the food and drinks but also the decor and design. So, restaurateurs lay as much emphasis on the ambiance of the place to elevate their customers’ dining experiences.
Here are some of the finest restaurants from around the world, whose tasteful interiors and scenic locations strike a soothing balance with their choicest dishes.
Gucci Osteria da Massimo Bottura, Florence, Italy
The one Michelin-starred restaurant is located in the city’s Piazza della Signoria, a historically significant square that is one of the most bustling parts of Florence. Part of the Gucci Garden museum and the retail outlet, the interiors of Gucci Osteria are lavish with the colour green and its multiple shades dominating the furnishings, wooden panelling and walls. Overlooking the Palazzo Vecchio is the restaurant’s outdoor covered space with a delightfully immersing decor where furniture and colours have a more earthy tone.
For those eager for a royal dining experience, the private dining room called Sala degli Specchi is the best option. Twelve seats placed here in the centre are surrounded by antique gilded mirrors that add dimensions to wood-panelled walls. This is one of the most ostentatiously decorated restaurant rooms anywhere in the world. The second floor of the establishment is designed for business meetings or private receptions. The wallpapers, furnishings and overall aura accentuated by natural and artificial lighting give the room a royal feel.
Beige by Alain Ducasse, Tokyo, Japan
The classy restaurant located in the Chanel Ginza building is a product of the association between legendary chef-restaurateur Alain Ducasse and iconic French fashion label Chanel. It has been designed by Chanel’s boutique designer Peter Marino and reflects the “simple and elegant” philosophy that both the renowned names share. Items made by traditional Japanese and European craftsmen blend to create a contemporary environment within the elegant atmosphere of the restaurant. It is designed keeping in mind that natural light can freely play inside during lunchtime and the night lights of the Ginza skyline illuminate it at dinner time. Crystal, chinaware, silver, gold, rubber, wood, copper and lacquer are among the materials of the tableware.
Do visit the rooftop, which is called Le Jardin de Tweed. There you will see a giant installation with multiple Chanel logos on one side and the Ginza skyline around you. Sit at one of the tables in a perfectly manicured terrace garden and enjoy light bites with Perrier-Jouët champagne.
Steirereck, Vienna, Austria
Steirereck is undoubtedly a masterpiece among architecturally beautiful restaurants and it serves the finest Austrian cuisine. It is located in the Stadtpark, a central park in the heart of the city, and it is this setting that PPAG Architects employed in their Contemporary design during renovations and extensions to the main building in 2004. As a result, you have four extension blocks (or pavilions) with exterior walls made of reflective metal allowing the entire extension to merge with the parkland around it. Massive windows, which electrically slide vertically upwards, make the overall design not only futuristic but also in balance with nature.
Every pavilion is designed to allow maximum movement for the staff. Bays have been created to let the guests in the pavilion feel both privacy and amity with the environment around them. Movable curved wooden partitions placed strategically in the seating area help in quick modification in the arrangement if needed. The design incorporates complete transparency as diners can watch chefs prepare food at a section connecting the extension to the original part of the building.
Eleven Madison Park, New York City, US
If you are a fan of the Art deco style and good food, this place should be on your list. Opened in 1998 in the Metropolitan Life North Building at the corner of 24th Street and Madison Avenue, the restaurant underwent a major renovation, including modification in its design, in 2017.
Since the iconic building was constructed between 1929 and 1950, the main dining hall looks like a part of a magnificent palace with windows that are almost as high as an average two-storey house. The interiors are inspired by the historic status of the building and the location. Thus, the warm palettes and textures of the walls, chairs and tables along with the lighting together create a 1930s feel.
There are three private dining spaces that can accommodate up to 18, 34, and 50 guests. Adding depth to the architecturally beautiful restaurant’s latest space is a Sol LeWitt installation. The intimately glamorous charm of the bar complements the luxuriousness of the dining hall.
Azurmendi, Larrabetzu, Spain
The architecture of Azurmendi is as essential to the sustainable philosophy of the restaurant (and chef Eneko Atxa Azurmendi) as the menu. From the outside, it resembles a large greenhouse located on a hilltop in the Basque Country where the landscape appears like an uplifting portrait of the countryside. Glass walls allow diners to enjoy scrumptious dishes in the company of the beautiful views all around while natural light plays in the spaces throughout the day.
Designed by Naia Eguino, the building is bioclimatic. On the roof is the restaurant’s own greenhouse, along with a garden of vegetables and aromatic plants. A germplasm bank at Azurmendi stores over 400 seed varieties from the Basque Country. Rainwater is collected for irrigation and cleaning work. Sunlight is used for energy and there are charging points for electric vehicles at the restaurant as well. Recycled materials and certified local wood panels have been used in construction, including interior panels. The atrium has an interior garden where tree sculptures conceal air vents and plants are nurtured by rainwater. For its design and construction, the restaurant has been certified by Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED). It has twice won the Sustainable Restaurant Award given by The World’s50 Best.
White Rabbit, Moscow, Russia
Situated on the 16th floor of a building in central Moscow, the upscale White Rabbit has a massive glass dome shielding its two-level main dining area. From here, guests can get a 360-degree view of the Moscow skyline. The interiors are glamorous, reflecting Russia’s baroque and rococo architectural history. The upholstery of the sofas is velvet and in colours of red, yellow and emerald. Rabbit-themed art and traditional matryoshka dolls are part of the decor, and so are flowers and artistic models of the country’s architectural heritage. While natural light comes from all sides during the daytime, the night becomes enchanting with intelligent use of artificial lighting that includes candles.
Atelier, Munich, Germany
Atelier is a part of the Bayerischer Hof hotel in Munich. The building of the hotel was conceptualised by King Ludwig I and built in 1841. It is today one of the most famous addresses in the city and a symbol of grandeur.
Atelier, which is situated at the backside of the hotel, was designed by Axel Vervoordt, a renowned Belgian interior designer and art dealer. Vervoordt’s love for art reflects in every corner of the restaurant. Befitting its name, the panels, the blinds, the walls and all furnishings together appear like the atelier of an artist. ‘The Garden’ of the restaurant is a cosy little terrace separated by a mobile wall made by Dirk Vander Eecken.
Emporio Armani Caffè and Ristorante, Milan, Italy
Located in Via Croce Rossa, the luxury fashion brand’s 21 years old exclusive eatery is divided into two sections. The first section, which is on the ground floor, houses both the café and the lounge. The first floor houses the restaurant with the new ‘champagne bar’ at the entrance.
The interiors of this lavish restaurant will captivate you the moment you enter. Emporio Armani Caffè and Ristorante is in a building dating back to the 1930s. This was the reason why in its most recent re-imagination, Giorgio Armani’s architects brought in the colours and style from that period. Spaces have been re-conceptualised and the entire atmosphere has become warmer and even more sophisticated.
La Maison 1888, Đà Nẵng, Vietnam
The magnificent building of La Maison 1888 is a merger of East Asian architectural style and French design. The antique mansion is situated on the side of a mountain and was designed by Bill Bensley, who imagined it as the home of a fictional French-Eurasian family. The interiors of each of the private dining rooms reflect the tastes of the children of the family. For instance, The Traveler’s Room was conceptualised keeping in mind a playboy son of the family. This room has original Stetson, Knox and Churchill hatboxes, travel posters and books such as The Story of a Bad Boy by Thomas Bailey Aldrich.
Similarly, the Le Boudoir de Madame dining room has Vietnamese embroidered puff stool, bronze lanterns, antique screens and wooden canopied Chinese bed — things that the ‘daughter’ of the family would be at home with. Long windows rise on all sides of the building as if touching the pagoda-style roofs, making La Maison 1888 a major attraction of Đà Nẵng.
Tori Tori, Mexico City, Mexico
The façade of this sushi restaurant in the Polanco neighbourhood is a sight to behold. Two self-supporting layers of intricately cut and handcrafted steel plates form a lattice-like structure around the walls of the restaurant. As daylight pours in through the façade, it creates mesmerising shadows inside. Violet light illuminates this unique structure in the evenings, giving it a psychedelic feel. The structure forms a unique combination with the natural ivy that covers the retaining walls.
(Main image credit: White Rabbit)
This story first appeared on Lifestyle Asia Hong Kong.