Issue No.16 — Fine Dining

01 of 04
March 2023

Spotlight Issue No.16
Fine Dining

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INSIGHT

Decadent food and dining saw 12% growth in 2022, signalling the sector's resurgence to pre-pandemic levels. This is supported by data from OpenTable, which saw the strongest growth in bookings for restaurants in the top price category in the same year.

And the landscape is evolving.

Alongside increasingly plant-based diets, a more flexible ‘social omnivore lifestyle’ approach is emerging whereby plant-based meals are the priority at home, whereas meat or animal products represent a treat reserved for social gatherings, special occasions, or upscale dining moments.

At the same time, a host of new concepts by former fine dining chefs – such as HAGS in NYC – are looking to redefine what fine dining stands for in the midst of an ongoing cultural shift to address unsustainable working conditions, lack of representation, and absence of accessibility.

IMAGE: 

HAGS – courtesy of Caroline Tompkins & HAGS

STRATEGY

High-end dining is thriving, delivering even greater exclusivity through rarer ingredients, new experiences, formats, and access models.

In response to the resurgence of members clubs, private restaurants are evolving their classic model. At Casa Cruz, investors gain access to exclusive spaces with fees ranging from $250,000 to $500,000 for private dining privileges. Alternatively, Flyfish Club offers access solely through membership NFTs sold before opening.

The trend towards ingredient rarity is now shifting to include produce that respects indigenous techniques and communities, and hard-to-find flavours. Alma Cocina Latina showcases carefully harvested, rare products from the Amazonian rainforest within its food and cocktail menus, paying homage to ancestral ingredients and cuisines while supporting Venezuelan indigenous agriculture.

Other restaurants now include the physical journey to the location as part of the culinary experience. KOKS is currently operating from Ilimanaq, a small fishing village in western Greenland. The ultra-remote restaurant serves traditional meat and seafood sourced from the island itself, which can only be reached by boat for three summer months when the ice opens.

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KOKS - courtesy of Claes Bech-Poulsen & KOKS

DESIGN

While some new openings, like Bacchanalia, are embracing experiential luxury and escapism with all-out opulence and the theatrical, other concepts are striking a balance between intensity and serenity.

David Thulstrup’s interiors for Ikoyi’s new location in 180 The Strand balances its Brutalist location and the restaurant’s approach to British cuisine and West African spices, with panels inspired by spice production and features that put the focus on ingredients and the experience at the table.

In a bid to create a more relaxed and relatable setting for fine dining, Linehouse’s interior concept for The Coast by Gaga, Shanghai, focuses on different colour palettes and materials for its three storeys. A warm colour palette inspired by the parrilla grill softens any serious undertones of fine dining, while sofa banquettes create more comfortable nooks in the dining room on the first floor, emphasising the importance of being at ease.

IMAGE:

Ikoyi – courtesy of Studio David Thulstrup