fine food - Unique Dining
Written by Craig Butcher
From getting locked up for the night in a former jail to dining under the sea, the world’s most historic and unusual restaurants offer even the most jaded traveller something new to excite the senses.
Da Pancrazio, Rome
It doesn’t get much more historic than ancient Rome, and within the Italian capital there are few locations offering such a rich ambience as Da Pancrazio. Metres from the Campo de’ Fiori, the restaurant is built above the Theatre of Pompey, dating from 100BCE. Famously it was the location of the murder of Julius Caesar, but today it’s in the hands of a fourth-generation family specialising in local Roman cuisine. Dishes range from a home-made artichoke ravioli to beef fillet in the Rossini style to a classic Italian tiramisu.
Just over an hour away from London in this famous university city is Malmaison, a hotel and brasserie sited within the old Oxford jail and castle, dating from 1071. The most celebrated rooms are in the ‘A-Wing’, an archetypal jail wing replete with metal banisters and galleried walkways. Each room now occupies three former cells and boasts a luxury boutique finish. The modern British menu in the Brasserie complements the total makeover of this historic and vibrant quarter. In sunnier weather, enjoy your food outside – in the old exercise yard.
For an underwater dining experience without the breathing apparatus, venture to Ithaa restaurant within the Conrad Hotel on Rangali Island in the Maldives. The all-glass undersea restaurant five metres underwater is a world first, with coral and fish visible above you as you dine. The six-course modern European menu typically includes upscale ingredients such as caviar and truffle along with local delicacies including Maldivian lobster and reef fish. The remote location doesn’t preclude goose liver or fine beef, though; remarkably you’ll find it all available here, under the sea.
Restaurants of no fixed address
From sky-high dining with Dinner In The Sky, where guests dine suspended in the air (various locations, worldwide), to pop-up restaurants with their location revealed just an hour beforehand or chefs who bring the restaurant into your living room, the idea of what and where a restaurant should be is constantly evolving.