Niche “bars” are the new Third Places. Your preferred, distinctive, highly specialised places between work and home.
We’ve noticed restaurants, bars and services specialized in a not just a specific style of cooking, but on one ingredient, or one way of preparing an ingredient . Or one essential service. Or establishments that are taking the typical environment in a new direction. Doing something new, with a bold, clear focus. Not following others.
The images in this post are of BeefBar in Montre Carlo specialising in meat and established by European meat importer Riccfardo Giraudi who needed an uboring meat restaurant to showcase the best of meat and to entertain his clients.
The fairly recently refurbished interior is by Monaco-based Humbert & Poyet Agency. Especially impressive in the Monte Carlo BeefBar are the custom-made Murano glass chandelier and the marble bathrooms.
In our search for specialisation, we’ve encountered the Obika Mozzarella Bar in Rome/Florence/London/Milan/New York/Los Angeles/Toronto/Istanbul/Tokyo. We fell in love with their website’s sensuous Fabrizio Ferri-directed intro video about the art of making those delicious orbs of Mozzarella di Bufala Campana DOP, mozzarella made from the milk of the domestic water buffalo.
And the Poncelet Cheese Bar in Madrid with its cool, angular interior by Gabriel Corchero Studio.
Or San Francisco’s Coffee Bar, a coffee bar decidedly moving away from the atmosphere of scruffy armchairs and permanent residents with their laptops, to creating an elegant, minimalist stage for making an espresso drink .
We’ve also noticed the Asian Noodle Bar, Zozobra, in Kfar-Sabba, Israel, where chef Avi Conforti prepares Asian food based on centuries-old recipes in a shockingly vast and modern environment, designed by BK Architects.
Restaurant Farma Kreaton (Meat Farm in Greek)is the recently opened addition to the well publicized Fabrica Kreaton restaurant located in the center of the city of Komotini, (Adrianoupoleos 4) in northeastern Greece.
The architecture and interior design of both spaces are by Minas Kosmidis (Μηνάς Κοσμίδης) with offices in Thessaloniki and Komotini.
In the case of Farma Kreaton, graphic designer Yiannis Tokalatsidis created the minimalist, hand-drawn graphics and cut-outs of cows, chickens and the scenery of the countryside that set the whimsical barn-yard chic tone to the entire space.
The 270 square-meter (almost 3,000 square- feet), 150 seat new restaurant is in essence an additional open-concept eating area to the existing Fabrica Kreaton that, in turn, is themed around a Greek butcher shop. Both are housed in a renovated 1950s farm house with a large yard.
In Farma Kreaton, in addition to the graphic components, we were attracted to the lovely, white-painted wood floors and the overall feel of a temporary barn-raising supper.
The simple plank tables, the mismatched, unpretentious chairs, the humble potted plants and herbs on the tables, all exude a feel of a space dedicated — just for the moment — to sumptuous eating and enjoyment of good company.
The hay bales, pick forks, watering cans and cut-out animals remind the diners of the work done and to-be done on the farm, the dinner beings just a moment of celebration — perhaps of a good hay harvest or a successful calving.
In short, Minas Kosmidis and his team have managed to create a believable semblance of a working farm without going overboard and ending up with a contrived, pretentious “concept” instead.
The food at Farma Kreaton is typical Greek meat-based plates, and the diners are predominantly locals. Tuija Seipell.
Yoobi Sushi, London's first temakeria, opened last month on Lexington Street in Soho. Its interior design is an exercise in constraint that has produced a statement of clean minimalism at its best.
Temaki is fresh sushi wrapped in a cone. It is a take-out or eat-in variety of sushi that was born in Brazil where the largest Japanese population outside Japan resides.
London-based Gundry & Ducker Architecture Ltd. stripped the former warehouse back to its original brick and painted the walls dark steel-gray.
The designers were challenged to combine the vibes of Rio, Tokyo and London, and to reflect the Yoobi brand's color palette created by Ico Design.
They solved the riddle with a fusion of only a few distinct features. All key surfaces, apart from floors and ceilings, received a light timber covering. The only "colors" are added by the brilliant white sushi bar, by the on-brand color inlays in tables, and by the chairs.
The decorative touch that connects all of the elements is the on-brand angular detail on the floor, sushi bar, tables, and on the blocky benches and plinths. - Tuija Seipell.
Not being big meat-eaters, we may never become regulars at Yakiniku Master Japanese barbecue, but we do love the design of the chain’s latest, its third, restaurant, opened late last year on Shanghai’s Tianyaoqiao road.
The 300 square-meter (3,230 square-foot) restaurant seats 130 people. It was designed by Beijing-based Golucci International Design, lead by the Taiwan-born, London-trained designer, Lee Hsuheng, with team members Zhao Shuang and Ji Weng.
The interior of Yakiniku Master Japanese barbecue is a harmonious combination of minimalist modern design and references to both Japanese and Southern Chinese architecture and traditions.
We love the use of the wood frame structures of traditional Japanese architecture, and in particular, the oak lattice work or screens that simultaneously divide and unite the restaurant’s various sections.
We love the half-moon shaped ceiling light fixtures designed by Golucci and referring to small, traditional Chinese boats.
The seemingly random, rectangular patches of meticulously arranged pebbles create cool interest on the floor and resemble a typical Zen-like feature in a Chinese garden.
We like the large, black-and-white mural behind the bar area that shows the beautifully curving silhouettes of typical Chinese roofs.
But most of all we love the stunning, ink-black wall of stacked traditional Japanese barbecue coal. It is absolutely beautiful.
All of these quietly elegant elements are not just beautiful to look at, but tactile and interesting, with texture and life and stories to tell.
Lee Hsuheng established Golucci International Design in 2004. Its portfolio includes a number of high-end restaurant and hospitality projects. - Tuija Seipell
Wine tasting is passé and the English have already perfected the High Tea, and nothing surpasses the Japanese tea ceremony. So what’s next? The creative minds at L'Hôtel de Vendôme in Paris set their eyes on “High Coffee.” They don’t call it that, but it certainly looks and feels like it.
Every afternoon, superior gourmet coffee varieties are served according to the expertise of France’s Best Roaster of 2011, Antoine Netien, and Tom Clark, owners of Paris’s high-profile Coutume Café, and importers and roasters of vintage coffees.
Enticing the coffee-drinkers to elevate their experience to a sinful level of indulgence are dainty carts full of mouth-watering sweet delicacies created with the supervision of Luc Debove, Chef Pâtissier of the Grand Hotel of Cap Ferrat, that belongs to the same group as 1 Place Vendôme.
This culinary extravagance is served in the hotel’s deliciously prissy first-floor restaurant, 1 Place Vendôme with its magnificent views of the Place Vendôme. When the restaurant opened in 2009, it was Florence-based architect Michele Bönan’s first restaurant and hotel project in France.
Bönan created a completely customized, elegant setting in a couture-style theme with silver-studded black-and-white hounds’ tooth chairs, plush silk and velvet sofas, silver satin curtains, and cushions of pink silk satin with black and white ribbed motifs.
And to amplify the luxurious effect, all this is contained in a space with virgin-white walls, floors and ceilings. All furniture and fittings, including curtains, cushions and carpeting were custom-designed by Bönan and manufactured in Florence from fabrics by the Italian fabric house Dedar. - Tuija Seipell
Luzi Bombón in Madrid is the latest restaurant creation of the Barcelona-based Grupo Tragaluz.
The group’s beginnings date back to 1987, when mother and son, Rosa Maria Esteva and Tomas Tarruella, opened El Mordisco in Barcelona.
Now, 20 restaurants and one hotel -- OMM in Barcelona -- later, their brand is a strong, established player in the Spanish hospitality market.
Luzi Bombón on Paseo de la Castellana offers madrileños Mediterranean brasserie food from early lunch in the garden to late-night drinks in the bar with live DJs.
The mid-century minimalist interior design of Luzi Bombón is by Esteva’s daughter, Sandra Tarruella www.sandratarruella.com. - Tuija Seipell
The 15-room Parisian boutique Hôtel Thoumieux in the Left Bank is yet another cool, art-deco-ish creation by Thierry Costes and designer India Mahdavi. Some time ago, we wrote about their Germain cooperation
Located above the popular Thoumieux Brasserie, the hotel also offers its own significant culinary input in the form of the 20-seat dining room Jean-François Piège, where chef Jean-François Piège is apparently creating gastronomic masterpieces.
The dining room’s tongue-in-cheek decor, also by India Mahdavi, exudes a somewhat out-dated and perhaps even a bit underworldly glamor of a bygone-era -- potted plants on doilies and elaborate wallpapers included. The pastelly furnishings, carpets and wall treatments bring out an aura of an elderly, once-quite-elegant aunt, who would not allow you to enter the room with a drippy chocolate ice cream cone.
The 20-seat dining room is not likely offer ice cream cones, but the atmosphere is relaxed, with no sommelier and no menu just “Les Règles du Jeu” (today’s market). - Tuija Seipell
French architect Odile Decq (born 1955) and her late partner, architect and doctor Benoit Cornette (1953-1998) have never feared bold, big, challenging projects.
This year, Decq who continues to lead Odile DECQ Benoit CORNETTE:Architectes Urbanistes in Paris, completed a task that has apparently eluded designers and architects since 1875.
She designed the spectacular L'Opéra Restaurant, located in one of the most famous buildings in opera, the 1,600-seat L'Opéra Garnier, on Place de l'Opéra in the 2nd arrondissement of Paris.
The 6 million Euro (about $8.2 million US), three-year-long project was completed this summer. The most significant features of the restaurant are the magnificent glass curtain walls that protect the original stone; the curved structures that define the new space and also create the seating areas and even some of the seating; and the simple use of white and red. The result is both minimal and grandiose, contemporary and historic. From some angles, the curvy structures create a cave-like view, perhaps a reference to the Phantom’s subterranean world.
The building, originally designed by architect Charles Garnier in Baroque Revival style, was inaugurated in 1875. Over the years, it has been known as Opéra de Paris, L'Opéra Garnier, Paris Opéra and L'Opéra Populaire. Its architecture set a new style for opera buildings, and for the next several decades opera houses around the world were built to resemble it.
The building’s fame has also been boosted because it is the setting of Gaston Leroux’s gothic novel, Phantom of the Opera (Le Fantôme de l'Opéra, 1911) and the popular musical ,by Andrew Lloyd Webber (1986). - Tuija Seipell
Pics by Roland Halbe
It seems we really like the work of Sydney's Dreamtime Australia Design as this is the third time we featured their work.
Dreamtime director Michael McCann and team are the designers of the Concrete Blonde restaurant recently launched in Potts Point at Kings Cross in Sydney.
Earlier, we've covered their Victor Churchill butcher and the Sydney Seafood School.
Concrete Blonde is a 100-seat restaurant presided over by chef Patrick Dang who has brought the many nuances of his international experience to the stylish tables of Concrete Blonde.
We love the stunning fireplace, the retro comic-book mural and the clever metal "tin-can" wall slots for firewood. The strong focus on metal evokes thoughts of industrial kitchens and huge dining halls, yet the atmosphere manages also to exude inviting warmth.
As it should be, the best feature of Concrete Blonde is the food. Our recent visit had us face the formidable problem of deciding what to eat. There are many options, plus the menu changes - the chefs here are capable of experimenting and improvising while focusing on freshness, local produce, Berkshire Pork, Murrylands Farm lamb.
We had the prawns popped with popcorn, then Himasa kingfish (coffee-cured with cranberry & burnt-scallion vinaigrette, pickled mustard seeds) and for the main event, we had the Meredith duck (passion fruit-glazed root vegetables with duck ravioli in pain d'épices consommé).
Being big fans of duck, we had high expectations and they were exceeded. By now we were stuffed, yet had to indulge in dessert, which turned out to be the best part of the already amazing dinner. The chocolate dessert with its pistachio wafers and olive oil jam was phenomenal in its perfect consistency, sweetness, and rich chocolate flavour. And don't get us started on the lychee and rosewater martinis, one of the many choices on the extensive martini menu. We will be going back for more. - Mark Cunial
Retail interiors by Chikara Ohno of Tokyo-based architecture and interior firm Sinato are often characterized by elegant simplicity and smart use of light. A great example of this is organic store and restaurant, +green. It is located on the ground floor of a basic concrete-frame apartment building in a residential section of Tokyos Jiyu Street, close to one of the city’s largest parks, Komazawa.
The 111.5 square meter (1,200 sq.ft) space is exceptionally high (about 4.4 meters or 14.4 feet) and much of it is underground but customers — and light – can move freely between the three levels.
The take-out, popular by park picnickers, is on the ground floor. In +green, Ohno has used clever partitioning, neutral materials and subdued colors to create a space that appears both intimate and large, and despite its underground location, has a refreshing, airy feel. - Tuija Seipell.