Sometimes, going out to eat is less about the sustenance and more about the style. For those occasions, and in honour of our new Design Issue, we’ve picked our favourite designer restaurants in cities around the world where food may be king, but the design is every bit as striking. The following restaurants are undoubtedly destinations in their own rights.
Sake No Hana, London
The Hakkasan group is something of an institution, and Sake No Hana is no newbie to the mix. Designed by famed Japanese architect Kengo Kuma, this slick restaurant and bar oozes contemporary-cool with linear bamboo ceiling panels, cypress wood and patterned screens, creating a tranquil space with hints of Japanese heritage.
To spice it up and show London’s restaurant industry who is boss, Sake No Hana transforms itself annually to mark the cherry blossom season. Guests can dine under branches and falling blossoms from a specially curated Sakura menu featuring modern Japanese cuisine, cocktail pairings and it goes without saying, sake.
Mexico’s Day of the Dead takes on a new meaning at Hueso in Guadalajara. Translating as ‘Bone,’ the interior of this particularly unusual restaurant is focused on – you guessed it – bones. Design studio Cadena + Asociados took on the refurbishment of this 1940s building alongside the founder’s brother, chef Alfonso Cadena.
The Darwinian design reflects a double layer; the exterior is coated in a ‘skin’ of artisanal ceramic tile, while the interior is more organic – bare brick walls, natural wood furnishings, and some 10,000 collected animal bones. It may sound a little macabre, but the overall effect is serene and minimalist.
Twenty Five Lusk, San Francisco
Take a refurbished meatpacking warehouse originally built in 1917 and add vintage brickwork, reclaimed timber and a good dose of industrial-chic furniture, and you’ll begin to get a sense for Chad Bourdon and Matthew Dolan’s San Francisco restaurant, Twenty Five Lusk. Designed by Cass Calder Smith, the space is overtly masculine, with rough concrete walls and bold modern fireplaces. A glass-walled kitchen lets diners check out the chefs, who prep a menu focused on modern American cuisine with seasonal ingredients.
Located in the SoMa (South of Market Street) neighbourhood, Twenty Five Lusk’s clientele tends to be young and hip – a perfect match for the restaurant’s interior.
The Jane, Antwerp
Antwerp may call to mind diamonds, but The Jane is every bit as sparkly as the city’s signature trade. Indisputably the restaurant to be seen at in Belgium, The Jane boasts a Michelin star and has acclaimed chefs, Sergio Herman and Nick Bril at the helm.
Set within the chapel of a former military hospital, The Jane blossomed under the styling of Piet Boon and now attracts an international clientele. Rough oak, natural stone and leather feature heavily, while 500 unique panels translate antiquated stained-glass windows to modern day glory. Food is delivered in seven-course tasting menus that are every bit as fresh and surprising as the setting.
Ammo, Hong Kong
Ammo is unlike any other restaurant you might find in Asia, inspired by the cinematic sci-fi masterpiece Alphaville by Jean-Luc Godard. The space is designed with a stunning array of polished copper and bronze structures – the highlight being dramatic, spiral staircase-shaped chandeliers.
Ammo is simultaneously elegant and industrial, reflecting the building's history as a former 19th century explosives compound. An Italian menu includes homemade pasta made onsite using fresh, organic Italian eggs with a lengthy selection of wines and spirits to match, but their speciality is signature sous vide and oriental-inspired cocktails featuring homemade, ginseng-infused gin.
With a monochromatic colour palette synonymous with haute Swedish design, Richard Lindvall’s Usine restaurant in Stockholm is a lesson in minimalist, urban style. Situated inside a stripped back sausage factory, the restaurant spans 2,000 square metres and includes a bistro, tapas bar, café and meeting spaces. Concrete benches, black pendant lighting, galvanized steel and exposed pipework are key, softened with plants, maple wood and leather furnishings, glass façade and artistic photographs.
Seeing his vision through to the finest details, the bespoke furniture was designed by Lindvall and built by a Lithuanian carpenter. The result is a city-slick, international ambiance, with a variety of gastronomic concepts all united cohesively in a singular space.
The Lighterman, London
The ongoing restoration of the Kings Cross area has seen many a new bar and restaurant appear in the neighbourhood. Take The Lighterman, which opened in March 2016 on Granary Square in a striking grey-tiled pavilion. Encompassing a pub, dining room and bar, The Lighterman spreads across three floors with alfresco seating on a wraparound terrace overlooking Regent’s Canal on one side and Granary Square on the other.
Designed by award-winning architect Stanton Williams, the exterior gives way to industrial interiors, exposed concrete walls, floor-to-ceiling windows and a neutral colour palette. The all-day dining menu features modern British cuisine created by chef, Diego Cardoso.
Words By Annie Biziou and Baldwin Ho