For a bucket-list meal in out-there surroundings, we’ve rounded up some of Europe’s top destination restaurants
Under, Norway: If ever you needed further proof that Scandinavia is well and truly ahead of the design curve, take a look at this pioneering project combining architectural brilliance and kitchen wizardry. Under is semi-submerged in the flinty Atlantic waters off of Norway – a stark, concrete block dipping into the sea and bolted to the seabed, placing diners besides a wall of glass where they can stare at the shifting colours and shadows in amongst just 40 others. Guests enter via a 40ft gangway – where the spray of the sea will blast them on a wind-soaked day – and will duck below the waterline, emerging in a space where the styling is restrained, and the panoramic view opens to fluttering seaweed. A darker, eerier feel than some of the plush underwater restaurants drawing starry-eyed honeymooners in the Maldives or Dubai, Under is fortified with metre-thick walls to withstand the wild sea conditions whipping up around Norway’s remote southernmost point, and over time, this cube-like space will morph into an artificial reef, covered in clusters of mussels, limpets and kelp. Since launching last April, things have been busy: you’ll have to wait months for a table and cough up £200 for a big-flavoured set tasting menu, dreamt up by Danish head chef, Nicolai Ellitsgaard, that plays on ingredients gathered close by (shellfish, sea arrow grass, sea rocket, sea kale, wild mushrooms and berries). And each course – of which there could be up to 18 – will be a surprise until the night. Taking you closer to Scandinavia’s elemental drama, this might just be one of Europe’s most exciting – albeit moodily lit – eating destinations.
Dinner in the Sky, Brussels: Expectations are soaring as this flying dining experience returns to its founding city in 2020 with a series of dates around its legendary suspended table (11-21 June). Guests will be strapped into their chairs and hauled above the busy streets to polish off modern European plates whilst swaying from a crane in the balmy summer air. Chefs will stand at its centre, rustling up the dishes in a dining experience that’s become something of tour de force in cities around the world, from Singapore to Sydney. Sure it’s gimmicky, but with exceptional plates from Brussel’s top chefs, you’ll be talking about this thrilling leg-dangling experience, long after descending back down to earth. From €295 for five courses, paired with wines and Champagne and served by the chef in the sky.
Sketch, London: In a former guise, the 18th-century townhouse of 9 Conduit Street was the London Atelier of Christian Dior – a space of fashion dynamism and haute couture. Today the address retains that spirit of innovation as Sketch – Mayfair’s outlandish food and arts destination, that despite opening back in 2002 by French masterchef Pierre Gagnaire and restaurateur Mourad Mazouz, is still hogging the press. There’s the enchanting Glade restaurant, with fairytale-like trees artfully covering its walls; there’s the all-pink Gallery eatery, framed with prints by acclaimed British artist David Shrigley; and there’s the Parlour, where diners order flaky pastries and perch on chairs with ballet-shoe-legs. Then there’s the egg pod-like toilets that are always turning up on Instagram. With all its extravagance, is it style over substance? Hell no: Sketch’s Lecture Room and Library wins the gastronomy plaudits for its rarefied three Michelin stars.
Aiyanna, Ibiza: The idea of Ibiza might make you shudder, but the white isle has a burgeoning farm-to-fork foodie scene far beyond the party crowds and a rural spirit that’s firing on all cylinders. Take this beachside hangout on the island’s north coast – a jungle of rattan pendant lamps, hanging plants, natural woods and psychedelic parasols peppered around a terrace with killer views of Cala Nova Bay. You can flop in giant beanbags, lie in the shade to stare at swaying palms, or bring a haul of friends and gather round its long tables in amid the easy breezy atmosphere. Unsurprisingly, the modern-rustic menu focuses on seasonal and local produce, taking ingredients plucked from its very own organic garden out the back. And given Ibiza’s no stranger to seafood, there are delicate, on-the-nose plates of chargrilled octopus over black Spanish rice, spit-grilled sardines with wasabi, and lobster pepped up with paprika and garlic. For off-grid bragging rights, Aiyanna is one of Ibiza’s top restaurants to seek out.
Chetzeron Switzerland: A former abandoned gondola station, perched high above the Valais resort of Crans-Montana, Chetzeron – a remote restaurant with rooms – is reached via two ways. You can glide here on the ski lift, huddling in your winter garb to gaze at visions of forests and peaks emerging into view. Or you can catch the heated snow cat and trundle uphill, alighting at this serene mountain top with the twinkling lights of the Crans-Montana far below. Everything about this place is formidable – especially if you wind up on the high-altitude restaurant terrace, draped in furs and ogling cloud-smudged views of the Rhone Valley and Alpine mountains clawing the sky. When the cold bites, head for an indoor table beside the roaring fire, and mull over the seasonal menu with cracking dishes such as ravioli with morels and kale, veal coated in borage, and lashings of local Valais-produced wine. The good news? The adrenalin-thirsty can easily zip to the slopes via the private lift. Or you could escape to your room with a view – staring at distant skiers beetling down the mountains.