London's older clubs, like Annabel's, have been welcoming members and their guests since 1963.
Many of the world's finest dining experiences require more than deep pockets. A certain level of ingenuity and persistence are necessary to garner the “impossible to get reservation”. Intensive research, some local knowledge and foreign language skills can also help to open doors to Michelin-star restaurants' little-known private rooms and to members-only clubs. Some equally special experiences merely require travel to exotic, faraway places.
Here, you'll find a handful of unique dining destinations, hidden rooms and places of pilgrimage,that only those in the know, know about.
Noma's Rene Redzepi. Photo: Ditte Isager
Claims to be the most difficult restaurant in the world in which to secure a reservation. On the sixth day of the month, every month, reservations open for tables three months in advance. Allegedly more than 20,000 emails flood Noma's computer system on that day. One way around the issue is to book Noma's private dining room, located above the restaurant's main dining room and next door to the prep kitchen and culinary "lab". The long, private space overlooks Copenhagen's waterfront warehouses and a new pedestrian footbridge that links the dockside with the city.
London's older clubs, like Annabel's, on Mayfair's Berkeley Square, has been welcoming members since 1963. Established as a private member's club, Annabel's elegant restaurant is complete with Morrocan-style ceiling and its own starlit dance floor.
Sukiyabashi Jiro, Tokyo
Jiro Ono is the 86-year-old chef and owner of this three-star subterranean sushi bar in Gina. Consisting of only seven seats, all of which face the bar, it affords up-close views of Jiro at work. This restaurant is a place of pilgrimage for sushi aficionados. The ¥30,000 per person ($330) 20-course menu of sashimi, sushi and uni (fresh sea urchin) can be matched with sake. The whole experience is over in an hour, but to secure a seat you need a Japanese local (perhaps your hotel concierge) to make the reservation.
One of Paris' grand dining institutions, Taillevent was awarded its firstMichelin star in 1948 and held three stars for 34 years. Housed in amansion, formerly the residence of the Duc de Morny, in Paris' 9th Arrondissement, Taillevent has two private dining rooms – the Guimet, where the Duc de Morny received Napoleon, and the Saturne, the Duc's bedroom, decorated with Louis XVI panelling. Chef Alain Soliveres offers a choice of four menus, starting at €120–230 ($180–$340).
Longitude 131, Uluru
At dusk, as the desert colours begin to work their magic, a table for two is set on a private sand dune overlooking Uluru and Kata Tjuta national park. As the light changes and rolls over the ancient rock formations, the sun gradually sets, giving way to a dazzling night sky. A billion stars twinkle gently above, the desert is quiet and dinner is served.
Hutong, Hong Kong
On the 28th floor of 1 Peking Road, elevator doors open to reveal glamorous Michelin-star Hutong. Dimly lit to take full advantage of floor-to-ceiling views across the harbour and the city's famous light show, Hutong is wildly romantic. And the private rooms. are even more so. Its northern Chinese dishes are fiery and beautifully presented, especially the signature soft shell crab served with deep-fried chillies.
Kee Club, Shanghai
The sister club to Hong Kong's legendary private members' Kee Club, this newer, Shanghai outpost permits non-member visitors to its restaurant. Housed in two grand 1920s villas, it is also home to an impressive art collection, and offers four private dining rooms.