On my recent trip to the States I went to Encounter Restaurant in the ‘Theme Building’ at LAX for dinner with my daughter Jasmine (although the Theme Building was built in 1961, the restaurant didn’t open until 1997). I’ve always wanted to go there after seeing photos of the bizarre Jetsons-esque interior, with groovy bubble motifs in the ceilings, spacey retro mod tables and chairs and a ton of lava lamps everywhere. Rather appropriately we went there after a day at Disneyland (the restaurant was designed by Disney imagineers). The experience begins when you catch the elevator up to the restaurant, where you are bathed in green light and they play tiki-suave-spooky alien muzak. We got a table right by the window, and besides the groovy decor (and good food), the other great thing about Encounter is the view. LAX is one of the busiest airports in the world and you get a bird’s eye view of planes landing and taking off. And, best of all, you don’t feel like you are ‘in’ an airport – and you don’t get those bloody annoying flight announcements.
Here’s the Jetsons-esque interior:
And while I’m here talking about restaurants with a great view here are some of my favourite restaurants from my travels (with a view and that added something special):
The Piz Gloria restaurant on top of the Schilthorn in Switzerland has it all. The revolving restaurant (made famous as the headquarters of Blofeld in James Bond movie ‘On Her Majesty’s Secret Service’) affords you (throw in a bunch of superlatives) views of the Eiger (made famous in the Clint Eastwood film ‘The Eiger Sanction’) and the Jungfraujoch and alps as far as the eye can see. Then there is the ‘James Bond breakfast’ (with a glass of champagne). Then after a couple of them drop into the steepest black run in the Murren ski area.
They got the name right here – this is Vertigo restaurant and Moon Bar on the 61st floor of the Banyan Tree Hotel in Bangkok. It’s hard to beat this view particularly when you have a table right on the edge. The food is amazing and the waiter gives you a torch to read the menu as you sit under soft candlelight – just to make that drop look even scarier. Don’t eat here if you have a fear of heights.
Here’s a view with a great story. The Cataract Hotel in Aswan, Egypt (built in 1899) sits high above the Nile surrounded by gardens and splendid views of Elephantine Island and a flotilla of Feluccas. There are four restaurants, but the best view is from the Terrace Bar – which also has the cheapest food and you don’t have to wear a jacket and slacks like in their main restaurant. And it’s where Agatha Christie sat to write her famous novel, Death on the Nile.
Choice! This is the view from the Skyline restaurant in Queenstown, New Zealand. After a day’s skiing at the Remarkables (the peaks in the distance) you make your way up the restaurant by gondola then after the ‘Taste of New Zealand’ all you can eat buffet and few Marlborough Sav blancs take the scary luge ride back down to Queenstown.
You can choose from countless restaurants on the island of Santorini in Greece and they all have ‘that’ view. Throw in a sunset, fresh grilled calamari with a Greek salad and a couple of ouzos and you’re in heaven. Then step and repeat the next night.
Yes it’s a tourist magnet, but I do love the Restaurant Tram in Melbourne. And for a visitor there are great views of Victorian Terrace houses in Albert Park, the sunset on the Esplanade in St Kilda, the buzz of Acland Street and a hooker or two on Fitzroy street. And considering the tiny kitchen is moving with you they serve up a great steak.