Saturday, 12 January 2013


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The World’s Smallest Restaurants
By Dan Myers,
The Daily Meal, 8 January 2013.

While every city has its grand, luxurious dining rooms, packing in hundreds of hungry diners each night, there are also plenty of restaurants on the other end of the spectrum, which serve meals to only a handful of guests at a time, and in some instances only one or two.

In some cases, like at the intimate Solo Per Due in Italy’s Lazio region, one lucky couple is pampered hand and foot for an astronomical price. In others, like at a small tiny counter in Beijing, the room is simply too tiny to accommodate more than a few diners. One thing is for certain, though: guests receive personalized service at these dining establishments.

To judge the smallest restaurants in the world, we took a look at not only restaurants that just have room to accommodate a party of two, but also those in major cities that squeeze as many people as possible into exceedingly tight spaces.

And while some might consider cosmopolitan jewel-box restaurants to be too precious for their own good, often they’re just examples of an enterprising chef or restaurateur trying to make the most out of a (cramped) situation. From New York to Beijing, these holes-in-the-wall are sometimes less than 300 square feet, and range from completely off the radar to in-demand hot spots with impossibly long waiting lists.

Here’s a roundup of some of the tiniest restaurants you’ll encounter on a journey around the world.

7. Sel et Gras, New York City, USA

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Photo credit: Sel et Gras

At 225 square feet, Manhattan newcomer Sel et Gras, whose name is French for "Salt and Fat," has a bit of a Napoleon complex. The tiny wedge of a restaurant somehow manages to fit 14 tables, with room for 32 diners, into a space that makes it the smallest full-service restaurant in New York City. On the menu are French-style small plates like tapenade, salt cod croquettes, and tart forestiere, and if you look hard enough you’ll find more than one nod to the tiny Frenchman.

6. Talula's Table, Philadelphia, USA

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Photo credit: Flickr/Marisa-Food in Jars

Talula’s Table, in Philly’s Kennett Square, is one of the hardest restaurants in the city to get a reservation at. By day it’s a market, but at 7 p.m. every night it becomes a tiny, BYOB [bring your own booze/bottle] restaurant, with one farm table that seats 12 and a butcher block in the kitchen that can squeeze in eight. To get a reservation, guests must call exactly one year in advance and commit to bringing at least 10 people. Once you’re at your seat, the $105 tasting menu comes with eight courses, hors d'oeuvres, and mignardises (small desserts).

5. Mr. Pollo, San Francisco, USA

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The wait can last for more than two hours at this Mission District arepa joint with a special tasting menu. Mr. Pollo [more here] seats only 15, but that doesn’t stop those in the know from lining up to enjoy a $15 five-course meal featuring items like octopus confit with parsnip purée, duck breast with wild watercress and peach sauce, and fried pork belly with beans and Spanish radish.

4. é by José Andrés, Las Vegas, USA

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é by José Andrés is an exclusive, intimate "restaurant within a restaurant" tucked in a private room adjacent to chef Andrés' Jaleo bar and paella grill at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. Those fortunate enough to snag a reservation at the steel-topped, eight-seat bar that surrounds a small kitchen set against a red glass wall and red velvet curtain are treated to an evening of inspired cooking as performance. Try the signature Secreto of Iberico Pork with Squid, which can only be ordered as part of a set tasting menu.

3. Solo Per Due, Vacone, Italy

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This charming private dining room is actually part of a large central Italian estate once owned by a poet. Only two guests per night are treated to an opulent Italian feast, during which they are waited on hand and foot. The wait staff doesn’t linger, though: you’ll need to summon them with a bell. But they’ll even take care of special requests, like a private fireworks show or chauffeur service. At the end of the meal guests can even spend the night. The price for a meal, needless to say, is astronomical - starting at €250 (US$325) per person.

2. Fan'er, Beijing, China

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Beijing's smallest restaurant, at 77 square feet, also has one of its oddest menus. Located in the city's Dongcheng district, its so small that there's only room for one stool, one chair, and one table. As for food, deep-fried burgers and pumpkin milkshakes (served in a coffee cup) are the specialties of the house.

1. Kuappi, Iisalmi, Finland

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Photo credit: YouTube/randommotif

This wooden shack is located on a nondescript street in a nondescript town in the middle of Finland, and it also happens to be the smallest restaurant in the world [more here]. There’s barely room inside for one table and a small kitchen, but they’ve somehow managed to squeeze in a full bar, albeit with minibar-sized bottles.

Dan Myers is the Eat/Dine Editor at The Daily Meal. Follow him on Twitter @sirmyers.

Top image: Kuappi

[Source: The Daily Meal. Edited. Top image and some links added.]

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