20 August 2014

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The world's weirdest restaurants


Heart attack grill - media10.jpgThe Not-So-Healthy Option

Pack your fat jeans for Arizona’s Heart Attack Grill (pictured, left), the hospital-themed burger restaurant that has been ‘treating anorexia since 2005’. It been enraging social commentators for just as long with its saucy ‘nurses’, 8,000-calorie burgers, Flatliner Fries (‘deep fried in pure lard’) and flagrant disregard for America’s obesity crisis. The establishment was founded by Dr Jon, ‘a non AMA recognized physician’, who can be found there daily in his white coat and stethoscope flipping burgers. The Heart Attack Grill refuses to sell diet soda, hands out candy cigarettes to kids and provides a wheelchair service to anyone who finishes its hero dish, the Quadruple Bypass Burger – that’s four half-pound beef patties, eight slices of American cheese, a whole tomato and half an onion. All very amusing – or at least it was until March this year, when the restaurant’s 575-pound spokesman, Blair River, died of complications from pneumonia aged just 29. Heart Attack Grill Diet Center, 6185 West Chandler Boulevard, Chandler, Arizona, USA; www.heartattackgrill.com

Monkey waiters

Monkey waiter - Rex_SQUARE_MEAL_924004S_CROPPED.jpgThat Michel Roux Jr is missing a trick. Why go to the trouble of training up a bunch of unvarnished ingrates to solve the nation’s service staff shortage when he could, quite literally, be paying peanuts to get monkeys? Kaoru Otsuka, owner of the Izakaya Kayabuki (pictured, right) in Utsonomiya, Japan, struck upon this unusual solution to service issues when he noticed that his two pet macaque monkeys were able to, erm, ape him. Yat-chan and Fuku-chan can open drinks, take orders and deliver hot towels so efficiently that one customer comments, ‘the monkeys are actually better waiters than some really bad human ones.’ Footage of the monkeys in action has garnered nearly a million hits on YouTube, while a more recent video of the simian servers wearing kabuki masks and women’s wigs is perhaps not for those of a nervous disposition. Izakaya Kayabuki, 4688 Miyukihonmachi, Utsonomiya City, Tochigi prefecture, Japan

Body sushi

If the movies are to be believed, a day in the life of your average Japanese yakuza would be incomplete without a late-night pit stop at a Shinjuku bar for a few pieces of nigiri served atop a naked lady. In reality, however, nyotaimori – or body sushi – is an invitation-only thrill that even the shadiest yakuza now consider, if not beyond the pale, then a serious food hygiene breach at the very least. In the UK and US, however, such is its hold over the prurient popular imagination (thanks to <I>Brüno</I>, <I>Sex and the City</I>, etc) that nyotaimori theme nights pop up with some regularity, the latest on UK shores being London’s Flash Sushi (www.flash-sushi.com). News also reaches us of Hapa Sushi in Boulder – the sauciest bit of conservative Colorado – launching monthly nights with college senior and ‘third wave feminist’ Haley Dorfman on the slab. Owner Mark Van Grack insists, ‘We do it as an art piece.’ Hapa on the Hill, 1220 Pennsylvania Avenue, Boulder, Colorado, USA; www.hapasushi.com

The penis restaurant

Penis restaurant - Rex_SQUARE_MEAL_578515G_CROPPED.jpgThe ‘nose-to-tail’ philosophy makes sound culinary sense in spite of – or perhaps because of – the polite and unspoken detour it takes past the animal’s, ahem, nether regions. We don’t often ‘do’ genitalia in the West but, in Chinese medicine, there’s a long-held belief that eating animal penis and testicles is nature’s own Viagra. Beijing’s six-year-old Guo Li Zhuang restaurant, has some 30 different types on the menu including sheep’s, dog’s (the only one with a bone) and snake’s (they have two). Guo Li Zhuang has become catnip to the Western ‘extreme eater’, although for its medicinal properties to be appreciated, penis must be consumed regularly, rather than on a once-in-a-lifetime ‘fnarr fnarr’ basis. Serious-not-silly food writer Anissa Helou is fresh back from a visit. ‘I can’t honestly say it was delicious,’ she confesses. Guo Li Zhuang, Dongsishitiao Street, Dongcheng, Beijing, China

Prison slops

It’s presumably a case of tip 12.5 per cent or fear for your life at Volterra’s prison restaurant, where the maitre d’ might be Mafioso and the chef’s doing bird for murder. Making models with matchsticks clearly isn’t how inmates in Tuscany occupy their days. Instead they run a high-end ‘ristorante’ that’s open to members of the public who don’t mind being frisked before dinner. Reservations for the six-course dinners must be made weeks in advance, and not merely because they’re popular; guests must also undergo the necessary background checks. Casa di Reclusione di Volterra, Fortezza Medicea, via del Castello, Volterra, Italy

*Photos by Sinopix/Rex Features

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