Design Lifestyle

World’s Best Designed Restaurants

Beautiful food in beautiful surroundings is the key to a successful restaurant. Crave explores the latest trends in restaurant interiors.

Text by Cherrie Yu

At the Chapel
28 High Street, Bruton Somerset, England
Tel: +44 17 4981 4070

At the chapel

A 17th-century, grade two-listed chapel in the newly fashionable town of Bruton in southwest England is the stunning setting for British comfort food restaurant At the Chapel. A labour of love for restaurateur Catherine Butler and designer and furniture-maker Ahmed Sidki, it shares the space with a coffee shop, wine store and guest rooms. Working within the constraints of the listed building, architect MacKenzie Wheeler restored the chapel house into a light and airy contemporary space, while retaining the original features. Light floods through the tall arched windows and bounces off the white- painted walls and high ceilings. A dramatic bauble light fixture by Bruce Munro is suspended in the centre of the space over Sidki’s hand-made furniture – wooden tables and calfskin chairs in white and soft green. At night, tall church candles create a soft glow throughout the dining area, creating a moody and relaxed atmosphere.

Sydney Opera House, Bennelong Point, Sydney, Australia
Tel: +61 2 9240 8000


Named for the first Aboriginal encountered on the restaurant’s site by Western settlers 200 years ago, Bennelong is located in Australia’s most iconic building: the Sydney Opera House. Following an 18-month renovation, it reopened in July 2015 with a more casual vibe and an Australian produce-driven menu devised by renowned chef Peter Gilmore. The multi-million-dollar project headed by Tonkin Zulaikha Greer Architects imbued the tri-level space with ochre and natural tones. Gone are the white tablecloths, replaced with Marblo tables and Neoz lights. A constellation of Tom Dixon’s Melt lamps echo the old globe pendants and the original Fritz Hansen swan chairs have been reupholstered. As well as the main and upper dining rooms, there’s a bar and a counter overlooking the kitchen with seating for 14 guests. Arguably the best seats in the house, however, are the six chairs at the table in kitchen, with spectacular views of Sydney Harbour and the chefs at work.

Berners Tavern
10 Berners Street, London, England
Tel: +44 20 7908 7979


Once described as “a faded Edwardian fossil” in Fitzrovia, in London’s West End, the dowdy Berners Hotel was restored in 2013 by Toronto firm Yabu Pushelberg to emerge as New York hotelier Ian Schrager’s glamorous London Edition hotel, home to Jason Atherton’s award-winning modern British restaurant Berners Tavern. The original stained-glass windows and corniced ceiling are a backdrop to 211 gilt-framed photographs and paintings that crowd the walls salon-style. Towering and exuberant, it could be the hall of an English manor or French palace. Adding majestic flair are large arched windows draped in voile and rich champagne- coloured leather banquettes. The jewel in the golden crown is an elaborate sparkling chandelier, adding to the grandeur of the architecture. No wonder celebrity visitors are regulars.


Brasserie Les Haras
23 rue des Glacières, 67000 Strasbourg, France
Tel: +33 3 88 24 00 00


Built in the mid-18th century as a stud farm for Louis XV and declared a historical monument since 1922, this wonderful old building in Strasbourg now houses Brasserie Les Haras. It opened in 2013 after a three-year renovation project by architects Denu and Paradon, design agency Jouin-Manku and three-Michelin- starred chef Marc Haeberlin. The space is anchored by a dramatic six-metre-high oak and blackened steel staircase, which connects the former royal stables on the ground floor to a new dining area on the first floor. Like the original 18th-century roof beams, the staircase is made from untreated wood, which will age naturally over time. Its spiralling shape is reflected in a free-standing circular kitchen and elliptical bar. The original horse stalls inspired the bespoke banquette seating, and much of the furniture is made in hand-stitched saddle leather from L’Arche du Bois. There are leather Lou armchairs by Patrick Jouin and tables, stools and armchairs by Jouin Manku.


Carlo E Camilla
Segheria Via Giuseppe Meda, 24 20141 Milano, Italy
Tel: +39 02 837 3963

Carlo E

Discerning diners in Milan will be familiar with this hotspot. Once an historical sawmill owned by the Solci family since 1929, it’s now owned by Tanja Solci who in 2014 turned it into a restaurant in collaboration with revered Italian chef Carlo Cracco, and site manager Nicola Fanti. The space is little changed, with every brick and beam still in place, including peeling walls. Seating up to 100 diners, the long wooden tables and seats were produced by Jasper Morrison Cappellini. Above each table are majestic crystal chandeliers that imbue the space with soft lighting and add a touch of luxury in palpable contrast to the industrial building.


Hotel Ristorante Grotta Palazzese Restaurant
Via Narciso, 59, Polignano a Mare, Puglia, Italy
Tel: +39 80 424 0677

hotel ristorante

In the heel of the Italian boot, this stunning contemporary restaurant has been constructed inside a natural cave, with raw rock walls and ceiling and a polished wood floor. Waves crash against the cliff face below tables set deep inside the cave and in galleries carved into the cliff lit by the aquamarine reflection of the Adriatic Sea. Inhabited since the Neolithic era, the cavern was once a Greek colony and was later used for banquets by local nobility in the 1700s. Today it’s the highlight of a modern hotel, which sits on the clifftop. Taking a minimalist approach, the restaurant’s white-clothed tables are lit by soft lighting and candles, adding to the magical atmosphere. It’s a unique location that attracts frequent celebrity visitors.


Le Pain Français Restaurant
Kungsportsavenyen 7, 411 36 Göteborg, Sweden
Tel: +46 31 790 11 09

Le pain

Looking like something out of Alice in Wonderland on Gothenburg’s most prominent boulevard, Le Pain Français is part of a successful chain of French-inspired cafés. Designed by Sweden’s award-winning Stylt Trampoli, the concept combines French elegance with surreal objects that play with scale and proportions like an old-fashioned storybook. Connecting the restaurant’s four floors is a glass elevator that travels through whimsical yet elegant spaces furnished with richly coloured armchairs and sofas. The basement pâtisserie contains a library of cookbooks, while the ground floor has a giant clock and a hot-air balloon basket holding the DJ station. More books decorate the elegant first floor centred around two fireplaces while the second floor has gothic cabinets containing an unusual collection of French antiques from ladies’ boots to stuffed birds, and a hand-carved wooden mantelpiece. Lemon trees and grape vines grow on the glazed roof terrace, which is lit with Parisian-style street lamps.


NOPA Restaurant
Harbiye, Tesvikiye Caddesi, Atiye Sokak 6, Sisli, Istanbul, Turkey
Tel: +90 212 327 58 68


With its green walls and retractable ceiling, Mediterranean restaurant Nopa in Istanbul scores high on style points. Opened in April 2014, the 220 square metre space was created by internationally renowned designers Seyhan Özdemir and Sefer Çaglar of Autoban design studio in a classic-meets-modern style with black and grey marble walls, warm wood and brass fittings and a sexy curved marble bar counter that runs almost the length of the interior then swirls out onto the patio. But it’s the lush vertically planted walls, custom-designed leather seating and geometric stone flooring of the patio that draw the eye. The retractable curved glass roof opens fully within seconds and a vertical stainless steel waterfall designed by Patrick Blanc anchors the rear wall. It’s a magical space at night, with downlights around the lip of the roof highlighting the plants and casting dappled shadows over the diners. Antiques from Istanbul’s famed flea markets are a nod to Nopa’s location.

Sala Rattanakosin Eatery and Bar
39 Maharat Road, Rattanakosin Island, Bangkok, Thailand
Tel: +66 2622 1388

sala rattanakosin

Sala Rattanakosin is a boutique property on the banks of the Chao Phraya River created in 2013 from a row of seven old shophouses by Bangkok architect practice onion. A highlight of the renovation is the eponymous two-storey Thai restaurant and bar dominated by the stunning view across the river to Wat Arun, the temple of the dawn. The temple view lures guests out onto the ground-floor deck and looms through floor-to-ceiling windows on the first floor. The cement has been peeled back from the interior walls to reveal the raw brick walls of the original shophouses, complementing the minimal black and white interiors elsewhere in the hotel. Huge glass partitions laminated with black and gold film reflect the view throughout the space, creating interesting illusions from different angles of the temple shimmering like a mirage across the interior fittings.


The Jane Antwerp
Paradeplein 1, 2018 Antwerpen, Belgium
Tel: +32 3 808 44 65

The Jane Antwerp

Following a rock’n’roll makeover by renowned Dutch design studio Piet Boon, a former military hospital chapel has been reborn as the award-winning fine-dining restaurant The Jane Antwerp. To retain the property’s authenticity, the studio didn’t just keep the beautiful period features, but also the peeling paintwork of the ceiling and the ceramic floor tiles. The original altar now holds the glass-framed kitchen, so guests on the ground floor can witness the cooking process. The lighting is showstopping. The centrepiece is an 800kg sculptural chandelier by Beirut-based PSLAB, with more than 150 protruding light bulbs, and an illuminated skull light grins down at one end. A contemporary twist was provided by Studio Job, which replaced the chapel’s stained-glass windows with 500 individual panes with images of sunflowers, devils, skulls and ice cream cones. The first-floor gallery now contains a marble-topped bar surrounded by black upholstered bar stools that overlooks the action below.


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