While we'll never be said to favour style over substance, there is always a place in our eyes for a beautiful restaurant – a place to see and be seen in. So we're excited that this year’s Restaurant and Bar Design Awards shortlist has just been announced, and as usual it has served up an impressive collection of the world’s best looking venues for wining and dining. Among the 2015 judges are luminaries of the design world, such as Alberto Alessi and Thomas Heatherwick, who are joined by leading restaurateurs and chefs (Yannick Alleno and Jason Atherton being just two), design critics, designers, and hoteliers. Together, they have selected 214 projects from around the globe, which includes an incredibly diverse range of dining spaces, from airport restaurants to pop-up diners and minimalist dining rooms competing against lavish temples of haute cuisine.
There are some Hong Kong representatives on the list too, including Bibo, Aberdeen Street Social, Mrs Pound, Limewood, and the renovated Dynasty. Scroll through the gallery below to see a selection of some of the most beautiful spaces to dine in today.
Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athénée, Paris
The classic French fine dining restaurant is encapsulated perfectly at this Alain Ducasse flagship, designed by Jouin Manku. The reflective pods add an unexpected futuristic touch in what is certainly a traditional setting, and the generous sprinkling of sparkling chandeliers and light colour palate gives the space a tremblingly cool vibe.
Located in the hipster enclave of Ruzafa, Valencia, Nozomi is a spot of contemporary Japanese zen by Masquespacio. The simple white and wood colour scheme follows the basic principles of minimalism, and the streamlined furniture and angular beams contrast beautifully with the chaos of white cherry blossom flowers that appear to float under the ceiling.
Andre Chiang's first Taiwan-based restaurant project opened just last year, and already made a statement with its one-of-a-kind aesthetic by Weijenberg. The focus is the imposing, undulating wood-bound open kitchen bar where diners can watch the chefs at work. The rest of the space is kept clean and moody, with dimmed lighting and dark woods, which creates the contrast needed for Chiang's colourful, seasonal cooking.
Colette Grand Café, Toronto
This could have been a Parisian cafe, for all we knew from Audax Architecture's bright and airy design. The cool marbles and bentwood chairs are certainly nods to the grand cafés of the Continent, instantly transporting diners to another world.
Asea Lounge, Santorini
The setting is quintessentially Greece, at this contemporary restaurant designed by Interior Design Laboratories. Set on the cliffs of Oia, within the luxury boutique hotel Mystique Resort, Asea focuses on seafood and Japanese cuisine.
Carlo e Camilla in Segheria, Milan
Located in a defunct 1930s sawmill (segheria means just that) in an otherwise glossy Milan, Carlo e Camilla is a vision of rough concrete, brick, and steel contrasting with crystal chandeliers handing from the cathedral-esque ceilings, pale and delicate crockery and spindly Capellini chairs. Designed by Solci, this unique space serving modern Italian cuisine is certainly one of Milan's trendiest destinations.
The Jane, Antwerp
Speaking of restaurants located in a space that had a former life, The Jane takes up residence in what used to be the chapel in a military hospital – the combination being both novel and eerie. Still, that means the ceilings are high and the lighting beautiful – Piet Boon, the designers, have made the most of a space that doesn't need all that much done to it. Furniture is kept simple and monochromatic, so your eyes travel to the spiky, sea urchin-esque light fixture that takes centre stage, the updated stained glass windows, or the decaying arched ceiling.