All aboard the rotating restaurant trend
You’ve got more chance of your beans on toast winning a Michelin star than getting a table at El Celler de Can Roca in Spain, which was crowned Best Restaurant In the World in June. Same goes for Mugaritz over in San Sebastian, which has been dubbed “the most adventurous restaurant in the world". And don’t even think of enquiring about a foldaway chair in the corner of the room by the toilets at Noma in Copenhagen. You just won't get in.
But the good news is that over the past year, it’s been possible to eat food from these very restaurants without even leaving London. You also don't have to suffer a year-long waiting list or try your luck with a million to one lottery ticket system.
A rotating restaurant. Nope, that doesn’t mean you rotate a full 360-degrees while eating, but it’s a restaurant with a rotating roster of chefs who have all worked in the kitchens of these stellar restaurants.
Carousel in Marylebone is one of the UK’s only permanent rotating restaurants and this month, the three-floored venue will celebrate a year of chef-swapping that’s had both world-famous Michelin star-winning cooks and up-and-coming foodies in its kitchens.
One of the founders, Ollie Templeton, says: “The idea was to get different, cool chefs from around the world, host them in the same venue, and hold lots of different events happening across all the floors.” And that’s exactly what they’ve done.
Rather than making you jump on an airplane to visit the world's best restaurant, Carousel is a one-way ticket to fine-dining nirvana. Oswaldo Oliva from El Celler de Can Roca served up a six-course tasting menu of dreams, Mexican chef Omar Romero celebrated a culture clash of Mexican and Japanese food, while ex-Noma and Sydney’s Tetsuya's Javier Rodriguez delighted with dishes like charred corn custard with Cock’s Comb Muesli. Meanwhile, Michelin star-winning Bjorn Van der Horst headed back from Soneva Fushi in the Maldives to create a dinner to remember, and Sweden’s Henrik Noren and Magnus Villnow from F12 popped up with Gro – simple, honest food focused on vegetables.
Ollie adds: “I think my favourite so far was Henrik Noren, who was just amazing – the most imaginative food, mainly vegetables and really creative. Sometimes the chefs might construct quite a leftfield tasting menu that might be pretty challenging, but the diners love that because it’s something they’ve never tried before. Oswaldo Oliva was cooking with emotion and it’s definitely the ethos for the chefs to bring their cooking and style here – we’re like chameleons.”
Indian chef Ravinder Bhogal has just finished a two-week session in the kitchen and also reckons this could be the way forward for chefs starting out in the business: “I think it’s an amazing thing – for me it’s been like a shop window, as I’m looking for my own restaurant space at the moment and it’s an opportunity to show people what I do and get a bit of a buzz out there.”
Gahh – that awkward moment when the bill comes and it's half a month's rent ... Well, the other amazing thing about rotating restaurants is the price point. A dinner of several courses at Carousel will cost around £35, leaving you a whole £140 better off than if you'd actually managed to get a table at Noma.
See? We've actually saved you money with this new trend. It's OK, you don't need to thank us – just raise a dessertspoon in triumph.