The Dinner Game
Concept restaurants are recasting the experience of dining out
Life / 3 Dec 2010
As food has become a main event globally, even making its way into famed Madison Avenue holiday windows, it’s no longer just what’s on the menu that’s compelling restaurant patrons. While name chefs and farm-to-table ethos are still luring foodies to the table, there are a growing number of innovative restaurateurs devising new concepts in dining out. Here’s a look at the latest restaurants based on big ideas rather than particular cuisines.
Test Kitchen
: Proof that dining has become a form of entertainment akin to music or theatre, Test Kitchen is as much a venue for culinary performance as it is a restaurant. “The most interesting opening of the season,” proclaimed LA Weekly. Test Kitchen boasts a different visiting chef every night in a manner similar to how rock clubs book new acts each evening. A small staff of expert mixologists creates the appropriate beverage pairings for each chef’s unique menu. Of course, just as clubs need sound engineers to ensure the best performances possible, Test Kitchen also has an offstage leader, chef/owner Ricardo Zarate, who works with each visiting chef to ensure the nightly transitions are as smooth as the meals are delicious.
The Loft Project
: The private supper club trend has emerged from the underground. Consisting solely of one communal table that seats 16 guests, The Loft Project is affording London’s gastronomes the intimacy of a home dinner party—but with the marquee talent of Michelin star restaurant chefs. First established as a personal test kitchen-cum-pop-up supper club, chef Nuno Mendes has since transformed the experiment into a sort of culinary gallery where international young talent from premiere kitchens can take up residency. Past talent includes Ola Rudin (WD-50, Aquavit) and Samuel Miller (Noma). Next month will see chef Magnus Nillson introducing guests to the signature foraged feasts of his restaurant, Fäviken Magasinet. His creations are likely to be more refined than that of his country’s most widely recognized chef.
The Dock Kitchen
: Before hungry American urbanites became obsessed with chasing trucks around town, Londoners followed roving pop-up supper club Moveable Kitchen. The speakeasy series became such a hit that chef Stevie Parle decided to root his kitchen. Although it now has a permanent home, shared with several design studios and showrooms in a former Virgin Records recording studio, The Dock Kitchen has retained its penchant for whimsy. Dinner series are “inspired by the season, an author, or a favorite place.” Recent runs included “Great Dishes of the World,” based on Robert Carrier’s classic cookbook, and “Olio Nuovo,” a paean to freshly pressed olive oil. As Parle will be travelling to Morocco over the holidays, we expect diners to be treated to some toothsome tagines come 2011.
©The Intelligence Group