It’s nothing like this.
A meal out at a fine restaurant conjures up warm memories for almost everyone. Whether your mind wanders to a first date, the atmosphere tentative and electric with possibilities, or to a relaxed affair with good friends, with the wine and conversation flowing.
Toilet Food Anyone?
A meal out is usually a pretty comforting experience, and we know broadly what to expect from the night; the chatter of other diners set against some unobtrusive light music; scrutinizing the wine list carefully for the second-least expensive bottle and pretending price played no part in the decision; wishing you’d known how bad goat’s cheese tasted before ordering the sophisticated sounding tart covered in the filth – all happy times. But for a truly unforgettable night, we sometimes need more, more than “This pancetta is a revelation”, more than “Another bottle can’t hurt”, even more than “Sir, you’re upsetting the other diners. I think it’s time to leave.” For the adventurous, or mentally maladjusted, these are the restaurants you need to visit.
Diners feeling their way to the table.
Dining in the dark is said to enhance the flavour of the food, as you’ll be concentrating only on what you can taste, not what you think you will taste. It also sounds like an excellent way to save on having to refurbish, as the dark isn’t ever going out of fashion.
Dans le Noir looking imposing.
There are a number of pitch-black diners in the world, but “Dans le Noir?” in London is the largest. The restaurant is staffed by blind waiters, the people best equipped to serve in pitch blackness.
Dinner is served, 150 ft up.
Ever wanted to eat suspended 150 ft up in the air, table and chairs dangling on a wires? Nope, neither have we, but then heights were never our strong point. This novel approach to high-class cuisine has its home in Belgium, but the 22-seat platform can be hired out anywhere there is enough nice flat ground to accommodate the 120 tonne crane.
The views are pretty impressive up there.
The downsides of this experience include the lack of toilets and the price of around £10,000 per event, which excludes the catering. Great views and bursting bladders don't come cheap.
Health and Safety is less important than tea.
Everybody loves a cup of tea. We've been known to bravely heat the water up in a pan when the kettle packed in, or courageously forgone milk the odd time it failed the smell test. We thought there wasn't an obstacle in the world that would get between us and a nice, hot cup. But just look at the way up to this tea-house.
This had better be good tea.
Seriously, look at those wooden boards stuck on the side of the mountain that serve as part of the path – the stretch that goes straight up using potholes – and even then there is a narrow path along the top of the mountain to the tea-house itself. We think we might stick to the PG Tips.
Totally worth the climb.
Erotic art at Te Mataré Ramirez.
The pleasures of the flesh are celebrated at this erotic-themed restaurant in Argentina that keeps diners entertained with live nude dancers, “whispered” audio sex shows and sexy video projections.
Red – a sexy colour.
You'll also have fun getting your tongue around the “aphrodisiac menu”. Try starting with “Childish and of insolent vocabulary, she emanated the aroma of her secret fluids” (gravlax), followed by “You indecently drank the eruption of my pleasure” (double cooked lamb), and finally finishing with “My mouth that implores beneath your feminine heaven”, a “phallic chocolate cone”.
Red – also a scary colour.
If you’ve ever sat watching a satanic ritual in a horror film and thought, “I’d really like to eat there”, then you have two choices: you can either get some professional help or take a trip to Vampire Café in Japan.
The vampire-inspired food designs.
Here, everything is designed to chill, from the gothic décor and creepy Baroque music, to the ghoulish dishes themselves. Cobwebs, coffins and broken mirrors litter the place, whilst waitresses dressed as evil French maids take your order. For those with a taste for the macabre, this place is a must visit.
Tasteful restaurant décor.
It could be said that scouring the globe for ancient Christian artefacts, then dragging them through Tokyo’s red-light district is more sacrilegious than anything the Vampire Café could dream up. That’s the deal with this church-themed eatery. Stained-glass windows, medieval alters and Virgin Mary statues surround diners whilst organ music keeps things sounding holy.
Keeping things holy at Christon Café.
A crucified Jesus lit with neon and crucifix drink stirrers may seem like the devil’s work, but as so few Japanese are Christian, these images don’t seem as odd as they do to Western eyes.
This looks friendly.
Tokyo is famous for its themed restaurants, and “Alcatraz ER” was one of the first and weirdest. The theme appears to be a prison hospital, but I don't think you'd find any of this happening at our Majesty’s Pleasure.
Just your everyday blood-soaked bar.
On arrival, a Benny Hill style sexy nurse will handcuff you, “inject” your behind with a giant needle, and lead you to your cell. When safely locked up, you will be able to order delights such as severed penis and human intestine (both really just sausages – it isn't that insane), and perhaps wash these down with a Nounai Hassha (“brain buster”), a cocktail served in a life-sized mannequin head, or a Hitori Asobi (“play by yourself”), a wine cocktail garnished with a couple of vibrators. Classy.
A tasty dish?.
If the pretend penis on offer at Alcatraz ER wasn't enough to satisfy your lust for adventurous eating, you should get yourself over to Guo Li Zhung in China. The name means “the strength is in the pot”, but you had better hope your stomach stays strong too, as this place specialises in cooking the genitals of male animals. If you want to avoid dishes containing penises from dogs, yaks, donkeys, seals and many other animals, then you'll have to plump for a testicle dish instead.
More genital delicacies.
For the nervous beginner, staff recommend the hot pot, a heady stew of six different phalluses and four types of testicles. We wonder what they would recommend for a more cocksure connoisseur.
Frighteningly realistic bread heads.
This disturbing clash of severed head and fresh-baked bread is the brain child of artist Kittiwat Unarrom. As his parents ran a bakery, the idea that folk might want troubling bread came naturally to Unarrom. The pieces use extras like chocolate, raisins, cashews and edible paints to create the pretty darn realistic body parts.
More Gruesome baked goods.
We wouldn't recommend replacing the loaf in your granny's bread bin with one of these, but it could liven up a drab Sunday round for dinner.
A burger the size of your head.
Founded in 2005 with the intention of serving “nutritional pornography”, this diner makes no bones about how unhealthy it's food is. In fact, that is their whole marketing ploy. The menu consists of a choice of four burgers, “single bypass” to “quadruple bypass”, served with flat-liner fries, which are cooked in pure lard. The quadruple bypass is two pounds of beef patties, with the option of 20 slices of bacon, and contains around 8,000 calories. You can wash all this down with the world's highest fat milkshake.
Anything tempt you?.
Anybody weighing over 350 pounds eats free in this hospital-themed church of saturated fat, though the waitresses dressed as nurses have had to call for the real medics a few times, for a couple of heart attacks in early 2012.
Not a great way to serve a brown stew.
And finally, who doesn’t love to be reminded of their bodily functions whilst enjoying a bite to eat? After finding out about this chain of eateries, we decided to try out some of the ideas for ourselves. Perching guests on a real toilet to eat out of a toilet shaped bowl and plying them with drinks served in mini urinals is enough to build a small empire of 12 restaurants in Taiwan, Hong Kong and Japan. However, this was apparently considered “inappropriate” when it came to our latest dinner party. Oh well, more toilet food for us.
All designed to get the appetite going.
There are more insane restaurants out there than you would have thought possible, and they haven't left too many weird ideas uncovered. There must still be crazy depths to reach, though we are out of ideas. Any suggestions to top these?