Next time you walk through an unpretentious, low key neighbourhood, or take a shortcut through an alley to get to your destination, look around. Hiding in a line of blink-and-miss outlets, are tiny bars and restaurants that thrive in anonymity. Expect a niche crowd, a limited menu, and prices that can give any plush hotel restaurant a run for their money. By Rashima Nagpal
- Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare, New York City (approx INR 54,365 for two)
This fancy three-Michelin Star restaurant in New York City seats a maximum of 18 people. Based on the idea of communal dining, Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare trades the archaic dining tables for seats around the kitchen counter. They serve a 20-course tasting menu featuring the cuisine of Chef César Ramírez. The menu – a blend of Japanese cuisine and French technique – changes every season. Make sure you book in advance and follow the dress code – formal business attire. No jeans, sneakers, flip-flops or shorts.
2. Marianne, Notting Hill, London (approx INR 14,450 for two)
Sitting elegantly on 104 Chepstow Street, London, Chef Marianne Lumb’s eponymous restaurant is meant for the sophisticated crowd. It seats a maximum of 14 guests in its pristine space – and serves seriously delectable meals made of the freshest ingredients. The intimate fine dining experience comes at a price, but not for people who are used to the Mayfair lifestyle.
3. Solo Per Due, Vancone, Italy (approx INR 40,000 for two)
Famous for being the world’s smallest restaurant, this old diner is located in the little hamlet of Vacone, in central Italy. Solo per due literally translates to ‘just for two’, and that is how it really is. Depending on your preference, an elaborate romantic time for you and your partner is pre-planned and arranged for. Get here for an exclusive Italian meal and a beautifully drawn classic dining experience. And before you sign off, write down your story in libro die pensieri, the book of thoughts, as all lovers who come here do.
They say, a meal at Urusawa is one of the most expensive in the country. Well, with one of the world’s the finest sushi chefs at the helm (Chef Hiroyuki Urasawa), this isn’t the least bit surprising. Located in Los Angeles’ upscale Rodeo Drive area, this tiny establishment accommodates no more than 10 people at a time. And while you will be humbly welcomed in for a strictly Japanese-meal, your phones will not be. Well, for the meal of a lifetime – featuring 29 handcrafted courses served over a duration of four hours – it ought to be this way.
5. Maison Hermes Le Café, Tokyo (approx INR 20,500 for two)
This tiny cafe is designed for the fashion nerd. Only the ones who come to shop end up discovering it – that too by chance. There’s no signage pointing the way, nothing on the website, and it’s not even located in the main part of the building. The few tables flanked by oversized armchairs lend the place a private-club feel, and because this is a place outside the purview of the paparazzi, you can often spot celebrities here.
6. NAOE, Miami (approx INR 30,300 for two)
Another exquisite omakase place, NAOE in Miami is famous Chef Kevin Kory’s Japanese jewel. He himself prepares each plate that’s served on the table. It is only open for dinner and has space for eight guests. In a glamorous city like Miami, this sophisticated hole-in-the-wall eatery stands out.
7. Sadaharu Aoki, Saint Dominique, Paris (approx INR 3,500 for two)
To say that Sadaharu Aoki’s boutique is a paradise for dessert lovers would be an understatement. Not only are the macaroons, pastries, and cakes delicious, they look gorgeous too! Scroll through their Instagram page and you will know what we are talking about.
8. Copper and Oak, New York (Drinks range from INR 2,000 to INR 34,500)
Popularly known as a ‘whiskey wonderland’, this tiny bar is tucked away in Lower East Side, Manhattan. Boasting just eight stools, a couple ladders and two thin copper rails, a lot of dark liquor, and a token food menu, this is not a place you can call for reservations. You’ll arrive here to find an illuminated sign outside its door that either reads “room for more” or “we are full”.