Picture yourself suspended in the sky, savouring a sumptuous meal within the confines of a hot air balloon. Envision being enveloped by the mesmerizing cascade of a waterfall as you indulge in delectable delicacies. Or perhaps, imagine feasting your eyes upon the enchanting spectacle of the Northern Lights while sipping on the finest cuisine.
To tantalise your taste buds and take you on a culinary odyssey, we’ve set out to find some of the most unconventional restaurants scattered across the world.
1. Bird's Nest Restaurant, Soneva Kiri Eco Resort, Thailand
Bird's Nest Restaurant © Soneva YouTube Channel
The Bird’s Nest Restaurant is located in Soneva Kiri Eco Resort in stunning Thailand. This restaurant gives you a very different experience to the standard restaurant on the ground, as you get the chance to savour a meal sitting in a nest, suspended amid a leafy rainforest canopy. The small pods are private, hanging at the top of trees, nestled over 16 feet above the ground where waiters even use a zipline to deliver your foot and drinks.
The panoramic view makes it one of the most romantic restaurants in the world with its spectacular view of the sunset. The staff are incredibly attentive and go above and beyond to make your experience just as unique as the setting. We recommend going for the Chef’s recommendations which change regularly and you’re bound to get the freshest ingredients. Many of the ingredients are in fact grown in the resort's garden - Soneva Kiri is eco-friendly and committed to sustainability. We also recommend booking high tea, which is precisely what it says on the tin and you can enjoy a beautiful homemade tea at a height. It’s an absolute must to make a booking for this restaurant.
2. Hot Air Balloon Restaurant, Culiair, Netherlands
Hot Air Balloon Restaurant © CuliAir Skydiving, Hot Air Ballon Restaurant I since 2003
There’s nothing like being in the sky, facing the sun in a totally unknown destination in the sky, floating above stunning meadows and beautiful views of Holland. Culiair is the only hot air balloon in the world where you can eat at altitudes of up to 2.5 kilometres.
The Chef, Angélique Shmeinck is one of only two female master chefs in the Netherlands. The most interesting part of the experience is in fact how all your senses are stimulated. Not only are you up in the air with one of the best glasses of wine you’ll ever taste but you also get completely taken over by the scents of spices that invade your nose. The same heat that is flying the balloon is also cooking your main course. The menu consists of draw-dropping lobster with roasted red pepper with glasswort, avocado, lettuce hearts and lime ‘moussaise’. Another stunning fish is the wild sea bass with green asparagus, cream of carrot with clams, fennel, tarragon, and saffron sauce with cardamom. If you are more of a meat person then the guinea fowl is a must-order, prepared with Vadouvan spices, summer harvest mushrooms, white asparagus, watercress mayonnaise, and pistachio.
We also highly recommend going for the wine pairing which is carefully curated to compliment your senses even more.
3. Northern Lights Bar In Ion Hotel, Silfra, Iceland
At Ion’s Silfra Restaurant and Nothern Lights Bar, it’s all about “slow food”. A menu of fresh local ingredients served with a twist, accompanied by spirits, beers, and liqueurs from Iceland’s many microbreweries. This is the perfect restaurant if you want to truly immerse yourself in Iceland's local flavour and spirit. The cuisine is modern Nordic with a strong pull to purity, freshness, simplicity and ethics as a guiding light to represent everything this part of the world has to offer. The restaurant’s name derives from the Silfra rift in Lake Pingvellir. The rift is the most popular fiving side in Iceland, partly because it is the crack between the American and Eurasian content and because of the magnificent visibility that isn’t anywhere else under the circumstances.
The kitchen is led by chefs Snaedis Xyza Mae Ocampo and Práinn Freyr Vigfússon. It is important to note that this restaurant isn’t just popular because of its food, but because it’s a wonderful spot to try and see the Northern Lights. Although the Nothern lights aren’t guaranteed, they are likely at the right time of year.
4. Labassin Waterfall Restaurant, Villa Escudero Resort, Philippines
When we see a waterfall, we’d be lucky enough to swim in it but Labassin Waterfall Restaurant goes one step further, it gives you a chance to dine right in the middle of it. Right in the middle of Villa Escudero Plantation and Resort, a one-of-the-kind restaurant serving authentic seafood on bamboo tables while you enjoy a cool splash from the waterfall.
There’s nothing quite like enjoying a homemade meal with your feet dipped in cold water and the rarity of having a no-shoe rule. The menu is very simple but delicious, you can tuck into a ‘kamayan’ style buffet of fish, barbecued chicken and bananas and fresh fruit all spread across banana leaves. Even though it’s a bit touristy, it’s well worth the unusual dining experience and the food doesn’t try to be anything it’s not - simple and delicious.
5. Dans Le Noir, multiple places around the world
Dinners in the dark have become very popular in the last few years, Dans Le Noir being the most popular and by far the best. Dans Le Noir ranks among the 10 most original restaurants in the world. Dans Le Noir has been offering the very unique experience to taste gourmet food in complete darkness, accompanied and served by unexpected guides. The biggest lesson here is around our perceptions of taste, and what that feels like when you don’t have your sight. It’s an importunity to reinvigorate your relationship with the world. For example, sometimes your eyes could deceive you and judge the food before you’ve tried it and go from memory. In contrast, this experience allows you to have a completely new taste experience.
Another important experience is about quantity. Usually one experiences ‘being full’ and not wanting any more food when they’ve cleared their plate regardless of whether there’s too much food on it. Whereas with this experience, you can really get in touch with your gut instincts and eat or drink only as much as you want, which can later reveal how much you’ve eaten and drank when the light comes back on.
It is interesting to see that the most unusual restaurants in the world have a strong pull towards nature. They go beyond the normal and push the limits to not just making it about food, but about showing the natural world in all its glory. When you have both fantastic food and drinks and a beautiful setting, something incredible extraordinary happens.
Want to find out about some of the best gourmet restaurants? Check out our ultimate travel guide to the six best gourmet restaurants around the world.
Credits for the Main photo: © Jon Handley, Unsplash