Dinner on the dark side
Taste is just one of the five senses, of course, but what happens to it when one of the others is completely blocked out? That's a question you should be able to answer after a meal at Barcelona's Dans Le Noir where the whole dining area is unlit and meals are eaten in pitch darkness. Staffed by the blind, the restaurant hopes to help diners re-evaluate the senses of taste and smell, as well as experiencing new sensations and emotions as they enjoy an unusual social encounter. There are also branches in Paris, London and New York, so there's plenty of opportunity to try dinner on the dark side.
For 'high' society dining, with the best views in town, Dinner In The Sky have the ideal solution. Up to 22 people can be seated around a table suspended 50 feet above the ground and enjoy either a simple cocktail, or a full meal cooked and served by staff up in the air. There's even the chance to have another customisable platform raised to the same height alongside which might accommodate musicians. Since the basic crane is moveable, the location is pretty much up to you: golf course, beach, park, historic site, racetrack... as long as the owner grants permission and there's enough space to set up the equipment. Although the price for a bespoke full day booking is a little above most budgets, there are much more accessible events such as the one scheduled for Barcelona on 17th September, where prices for a short drink 'flight' start at 79€.
The world's oldest eatery
The Guinness Book of Records lists Sobrino de Botin, also known as Casa Botin, as the world's oldest restaurant. Located close to the Plaza Mayor in the Spanish capital, the restaurant was a family business founded in 1725 and it's said that the great artist Goya worked here as a waiter. It's a classic of traditional Madrid cuisine, and attracts diners to sample the fine suckling pig and lamb roasted in the old Castilian style in a wood oven which dates from the same period as the restaurant itself.
Cool cave dining
Although Madrid's Botin claims its place as the world's oldest eatery, it can't boast a history as ancient as the caves in the foothills of the Sierra de Espadan where Upper Palaeolithic hunters sought refuge around 18,000 years ago. And this is the setting for La Gruta, where natural rock provides the beautiful and unique decor of the dining room where fine local ingredients are served in carefully prepared regional dishes.
The interior heat emanating from the earth itself is used to cook typical Lanzarote dishes at the Timanfaya restaurant El Diablo, set in the Timanfaya National Park. The circular building boasts large clear windows which afford views out across the vast fields of volcanic lava.
Get me to the church
All that remains of this beautiful monumental building that served as a school and convent back in the early 1600s, is the church, one of the finest examples of Baroque architecture in Alcala. And now the church building has been transformed into La Cupula, a stylish restaurant offering a beautiful historical setting for the enjoyment of traditional Castilian cuisine.
Said to be the only restaurant in the world that serves only desserts, Barcelona's Espai Sucre has the clear advantage of being associated with a world-class school of patisserie and desserts. The skilful mixing of sweet and savoury has proved irresistible to the most demanding gourmand palates.
Hidden within the Dry Martini of Barcelona, one of the most prestigious cocktail bars in Spain, the Speakeasy restaurant is located in a former storehouse converted now in a gastronomic space inspired by New York and Chicago locales in the Prohibition era of America in the Twenties. The atmosphere plays on the blend of luxury and anonymity, to create an intimate ambience for those who dare to knock discreetly at the door and are admitted.
Eat with the fishes
The building design mimics a giant wave, but even more surprising and original is what you'll discover inside the Oceanographic restaurant at the City of Arts and Sciences in Valencia. The huge circular aquarium provides one of the most avant garde settings in the country for lunch or dinner, and decor and lighting are perfectly designed to harmonise with the great glass walls that offer a magnificent moving picture of the marine world.
Couch out in style
Sometimes you just fancy dinner in bed, and that's practically what's on offer at Mezklum, in the heart of Madrid, where you can choose the more familiar experience of dining at a table, or lie down on enormous pillows and mattresses to enjoy your meal.
Nothing to fear
La Posada Maldita in Barcelona promises a terrific dining experience - or should that be terrifying? It's themed dining at its most scary, with good home cooking in an atmosphere that's like Halloween whatever the date. Ideal for creepy farewell dos, macabre business dinners or just a spooky meal with friends, screams and laughter are on the menu.