Most people would consider vile food and scary staff to be restaurant experiences to avoid at all costs. (Goodness knows we have enough complaints in our reader reviews.) But it seems there are thrill seekers who will go out of their way to have a terrible time. In a skit on Saturday Night Live, one such couple goes to a 1950s-style diner where the waitress, played by Jennifer Lawrence, takes the jokey-insult gimmick a little too far.
And if you think that’s harsh, have a look at what other weird restaurants around the world are offering.
The Clink in Cardiff was recently voted number one on TripAdvisor’s Popularity Index for the Welsh capital. It’s a great cause: they aim to reduce reoffending rates of their inmates by providing restaurant work experience, qualifications and placements upon release. The current winter menu is pretty serious, featuring a dish of caramelised pork belly with pancetta-wrapped pork fillet, black pudding bon-bon, shallot purée and apple jus. However, before tucking in, you’ll have to be X-rayed, searched and fingerprinted; carrying cash is not encouraged; and phones, sim cards and cameras are prohibited. (South Africa has its own version of this kind of rehabilitation programme at the restaurant at Pollsmoor Prison in Tokai, Cape Town.)
The Kayabukiya Tavern in Japan employs the services of a couple of macaques as waiters. They work tirelessly for two hours a day – under the scrutiny of animal rights activists – and receive soy beans as tips. Tough gig.
This clandestine Milwaukee restaurant is deliberately unremarkable in appearance and requires a password for its ‘secret agent’ patrons to enter. It was named the hippest place on the planet, according to the restaurant’s Twitter bio, which means there’s simply no excuse for their website. (1996 called and wants its Word Art back.)
The Stinking Rose in San Francisco seasons its garlic with food. Dishes include fragrant delights such as hummus or bagna càuda with garlic crostini and the famous 40-clove garlic chicken, which you could wash down with Chateau de Garlique red wine. Don’t be alarmed, you can order a side of roasted garlic to totally annihilate any stubbornly remaining sex appeal. Reports claim it takes at least three days for the stench to wear off.
This one wins the prize for the most depressing. At Eenmaal pop-up restaurant in Amsterdam, tables are set for one. (The most concerning issue for us is: who else’s dessert would we taste?) According to creator Marina van Goor, Eenmaal “is the perfect place to dine in pleasant solitude; an exciting experiment for those who never go out for dinner alone; and an attractive place to eat for those who already enjoy doing so.” (We wonder if it comes with seven cats as a takeaway.)
At the Disaster Café in Spain, a fake 7.8 magnitude earthquake arrives unexpectedly during dinner, plunging diners into terrifying, shuddering darkness. We’d suggest wearing dark trousers.
International events company Dinner in the Sky hosting special dinners in picturesque spots like Monaco, Rio de Janeiro and London. It has spawned a local spin-off, Sky Dining SA, where guests are suspended 40m off the ground in spectacular surroundings – and, by the look of things, spend the entire time on Instagram.
More of a street-side vendor than restaurant, this eatery in Pitsanalok, Thailand, flings your food up into the night sky for you to catch. We have a lot of follow-up questions, foremost of which is WHY.
At Giraffe Manor in Nairobi, Kenya, the residents poke their long necks through the dining room windows while you’re at the table. Cousin Violet would not approve.
Modern Toilet Restaurant in Taipei City, Taiwan, invites patrons to ‘go pee-pee or go poo-poo’ with their friends and family. And yes, you’ll also be sitting on a toilet while you eat ice cream shaped like you-know-what out of another toilet. It’s just like Inception, but Leo’s not coming to save you.
Have you heard of other weird restaurants? Please share them in the comments section below.