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You shouldn’t build your restaurant concept around trying to be the “best” in any category. Instead, focus on being the only one who does what you do – be supremely unique. From volcano cooking to literally earth-shaking dining experiences, the following are 10 examples of unique restaurant concepts in Europe that set themselves apart with their distinctive design and ideas.
Unique Restaurants in Europe
1. Dine in the Dark
If you’re looking for an illuminating dining experience, look elsewhere. In this restaurant, there is nothing but darkness.
Nocti Vagus in Berlin is Germany’s first “Dark Restaurant.” All the servers in Nocti Vagus are either blind or visually impaired. They’re highly skilled, hospitable guides for guests because they’re already accustomed to working without relying on sight.
The reasoning behind this dark concept (and other similar concepts within the dark dining trend) is that without one of the senses, every other sense is heightened. Every touch is sensational. The sizzle of a hot dish is a delight. Flavors taste bolder and richer. When they turn off the lights, they dial up the experience.
2. Postmodern Payment
Hailed as the first postmodern restaurant in Ireland, this kitschy, eclectic restaurant doesn’t put a price tag on good food and good service. No worries about diner’s remorse here. Pay As You Please in Killarney, Ireland is exactly what it sounds like. Guests pay however much they think they should for their meal, and there is no catch.
3. Sky High
Belgium-owned Dinner in the Sky is all about exclusivity, adventure, and – believe it or not – safety. Imagine dining at a table 150 feet in the air, being suspended by a crew of professionals. This restaurant can go anywhere there is a securable surface of 500 square meters. The space provides room for 22 people at the table, with three staff members in the middle, and can stay up in the air for 8 hours at a time. Talk about an exclusive, customized dining experience.
4. Dinner with a Side of Disaster
If you’re looking for an earth-shattering dining experience, look no further. The Disaster Café in Lloret de Mar, Spain stimulates a 7.8 earthquake during meals. The restaurant appeals to thrill-seeking diners, and uses the element of surprise to make the experience unforgettable. (There’s no warning when the earthquake will strike.) Watch the video below for a taste of what awaits guests at The Disaster Café.
5. Do-It-Yourself Dining
De Goljer, a Belgian restaurant, creates the ultimate Do-It-Yourself project for guests: the restaurant provides the ingredients and drinks while customers prepare the meal themselves (with a little help, of course). Though this contradictory concept seems ridiculous on its face – one of the reasons people go out to eat is that they don’t want to cook – the experience makes it worth it. For a set price, all the food guests can imagine – including drinks, appetizers, main courses and dessert – is provided for with a variety of options for budding amateur chefs to fashion into hand-made dishes.
6. Volcanic Cooking
El Diablo, or “The Devil,” is a restaurant that is truly unique – food is cooked over a live volcano. Found on Lanzarote, a Spanish island, this restaurant cooks its meals over an active volcanic hole in the ground, where volcanic heat emits from deep within the earth. The restaurant built a big grill over the hole to cook large amounts of food at a time. They take using natural resources to a whole new level.
7. Bloody Good Show
Typically, restaurants that provide dinner and a show let the audience watch in the comfort of their chairs. But La Masia Encantada in Arenys de Munt, Spain includes the guests in the plot. The show begins upon arrival, and the guests have to actively participate in the horrifying storyline to reverse a curse and enjoy their meal. The adventure lasts three hours with different courses and scenes.
8. Swing Vote
Meals are a time to relax and take a break from the hustle and bustle of daily life. What’s a unique way to unwind? Our vote is for this swing restaurant. Dining at Sur un Abre Perché in Paris, France involves dining while sitting in swings. Masseurs wait nearby to get that knot out of a guest’s achy muscles. This restaurant definitely focuses on customer service.
9. Death for Dinner
For a restaurant owned by undertakers, this dark, spooky setting is exactly what one would expect. The restaurant, called “Eternity” in Truskavets, Ukraine, exudes an unnerving, morbid mood for its customers because it is built inside an enormous coffin. There are no windows. Funeral wreathes decorate the black walls inside. What’s on the menu? Death-themed dinners like the menacing “Let’s Meet in Paradise” dish. Guests love the creepy factor and the thrill.
10. The Food’s on Track
The futuristic German restaurant “‘s Baggers” takes elements of full-service and self-service restaurants and creates something remarkably cool. Guests order meals on a high-tech touch screen. Food is prepared using only organic and locally sourced ingredients. Then it’s delivered on metallic roller coaster tracks straight to the table. They bring new meaning to “fast food.”