Forget beige booths and understated walls, the latest places to eat are utterly unique.
In the middle of Mark Hix’s new restaurant, Tramshed in east London, sits a Damien Hirst sculpture of a cow, preserved in formaldehyde with a cockerel sitting on its back (helpfully pictured above). The restaurant, which capitalises on the current trend for two-dish menus (à la Burger and Lobster) and has only two main courses of chicken and steak (chickenandsteak.co.uk), is the epitome of east London cool – as is the very well-connected Hix. “I texted Damien, told him about the menu and said ‘Got any ideas?’” he explained. “This is what we got.”
Then people started talking about Mari Vanna (marivanna.co.uk), a new Russian restaurant in Knightsbridge which could have been beamed straight out of Tolstoy. With its ‘babushka’ Russian home cooking and clutter-kitsch decor, it sits somewhere between your grandma’s sitting room and a vintage car boot sale.
In Bristol, something equally different is going on at 40 Alfred Place (40alfredplace.net), the UK’s only permanent pop-up restaurant – a contradiction which combines a static base with a changing weekly roster of chefs, themed nights and events (think Peruvian supper clubs and Campari bars). It is a shell of a building designed to house its ever-changing dining. It’s yet another version of foodie decor diversity.
The trend has been cemented by a plethora of new openings, including Manchester’s Burgher Burger (chefs re-imagining the burger in secret locations; jellyandgin.com/events) to Shrimpy’s in King’s Cross (pictured above, second right); a Latin American eaterie in a disused petrol station (shrimpys.co.uk). Don’t know what you’re doing for dinner tonight? You do now.