Time to Dine: the world’s most beautifully designed restaurants

The world of gastronomes is in agreement: fine dining is no longer all about the food. From the moment you walk into a restaurant to when you’re polishing off the last bite of a dish, the best meal is a full-on sensory experience, and establishments across the globe have stepped up to the plate with gorgeous settings, theatrical presentation, and – of course – interiors that can truly transport you. We’ve rounded up four of the most inspiring restaurant interiors to set the tone for the coming year.

OneOcean Club, Barcelona

While executive chef Cesar Guillen serves up delicious Catalan cuisine made from fresh, local ingredients at this wellness and F&B destination’s restaurant, the highlight for us is the Blue Wave cocktail bar and terrace overlooking the marina. Designed by El Equipo Creativo, the bar’s interiors were inspired by the local landmarks by Antoni Gaudi as well as the shifting tides of the nearby ocean. Blue, scale-like floor tiles and stylishly uneven panels on the ceiling add interest, while the white concrete latticework creates an interplay of sunlight and shadow not unlike that of sunlight on the water. The bar’s intriguing design earned it the titles of best overall bar and best European bar of 2016 from the Restaurant and Bar Design Awards. In addition to the food, the club also features a spa and fitness centre.

Sketch, London

The brainchild of Pierre Gagnaire, this bar and restaurant complex at the heart of Mayfair is still as fresh and intriguing as when it first opened its doors over a decade ago. Formerly housing the Royal Institute of British Architects and, later, the London atelier of Christian Dior, Sketch carries the creative heritage of the building forwards with its daring design and art-centric concept. The two Michelin-starred Gallery restaurant – one of five distinct areas – is perhaps most striking, featuring sumptuous interiors by designer India Mahdavi and over 200 works by Turner Prize-winning artist David Shrigley. Rather than merely showing his pieces in the space, Shrigley also contributed in other ways to the design – the whimsical salt and pepper shakers sitting on each table, for instance. The tea room, bars, and other restaurant offer up even more to explore, from the sensual warm tones and textures of The Lecture Room & Library to the sleek, ethereal vibe of The East Bar. The menu provides a gastronomic experience just as exciting and experimental as the aesthetic, spanning Japanese and European cuisines with modern French fare squarely at the forefront.

Photography by Brett Stevens

Bennelong, Sydney

When leading Australian architecture firm Tonkin Zulaikha Greer was appointed to refurbish Bennelong restaurant within the Sydney Opera House, they faced a unique set of challenges: seamlessly integrating with the landmark as well as highlighting the culinary creations of Australian executive chef Peter Gilmore. When the restaurant re-opened after the multi-million dollar revamp in 2015, the result was a space that preserved the opera house’s heritage and iconic elements – such as a memorial pole artwork by local aboriginal people that has anchored the restaurant since 2002 – while exuding an air of contemporary cool. Tables are made of Marblo, a translucent resin, and Melt lights by Tom Dixon adorn the ceiling. Comprising three levels – with a bar for theatre-goers on the top floor – the restaurant echoes the building’s colour palette of ochre and natural tones while the furnishings are pared back, keeping the focus on the iconic concrete, bronze and glass shell.

Ammo, Hong Kong

Since opening in 2012, Ammo has become a household name among local foodies and the culture cognoscenti alike. Designed by Joyce Wang, the restaurant features dramatic, copper-toned interiors with a uniquely theatrical effect that diners would be hard pressed to find at another establishment anywhere else in the world. Inspired by Alphaville, a 1965 sci-fi flick directed by Jean-Luc Godard, the restaurant presents a fascinating contrast with its lush surroundings – especially with its vast, floor-to-ceiling windows that make sitting down for dinner at Ammo not unlike looking out from inside a greenhouse. The spiral staircase pieces hanging from the ceiling and feature wall behind the bar grab the eye as soon as you walk in, while the black-and-white patterned flooring and plush seating add texture. A perfect spot to enjoy either a nightcap or a multi-course meal of Italian and Mediterranean dishes concocted by chef Roland Schuller.

Leading image courtesy of Sketch