The concept of ‘for a limited time only’ appeals to us on such a base level that people will literally scramble to be one of the lucky few to experience whatever it is that is only here for a fleeting period. While some limited editions are nothing but hype, others never fail to showcase the very best in their field. In the world of pop-up restaurants, PRET-A-DINER truly stands alone. In fact, such is its reputation for unparalleled culinary excellence and innovation that it has come to make a bold promise – “This is not a pop-up restaurant – this is a dining experience.”
So, with such a declarative statement, can PRET-A-DINER live up to its hype? Can it deliver a dining experience that moves beyond a mere short-lived novelty? Well, this is where PRET-A-DINER comes into its own. Its hype is not self-generated, but has been earned across Europe over the past year and a half, with its dizzying success stretching across the Atlantic to be picked up by the New York Times. For a start, how many pop-up ventures can boast a Michelin star? Furthermore, how many of these temporary eateries are made up of a foundation of not one, but three Michelin-starred chefs? Sitting at the helm of PRET-A-DINER is a wealth of critically acclaimed talent, including Nuno Mendes of Viajante, Matthias Schmidt of Villa Mertin, and Juan Amador of Amador.
With this powerhouse of culinary talent, one would expect an innovative menu of Italian delicacies to steal the show. While the cuisine is, quite simply, unsurpassed anyone else in the world, the show of PRET-A-DINER includes much more than its gourmet creations and unforgettable flavours. With the slogan of “Italians Do It Better”, PRET-A-DINER seeks to create a fully immersive Italian experience, blending the legendary Mediterranean hospitality with a showcase of everything ranging from contemporary Italian art, curated by Julian Farrow, to an eclectic line-up of live Italian musicians.
The food is of world-leading standard, the entertainment is all-immersive; the only thing remaining is the venue. It should come as no great surprise by now that PRET-A-DINER completes its winning hand here with absolute flair. While the levels of anticipation and acclaim that have followed its openings across Europe have remained as high as ever, its actual restaurant settings have shown a remarkable level of individuality. In 2011, PRET-A-DINER’s Berlin winter venture of The Melting Pot was housed within a former mint, was fully-booked for 6 weeks, and entertained more than 10,000 guests. That same summer, to coincide with Berlin fashion week and the warmer weather, its Culinary Discovery venture took the form of a bohemian riverside eatery, complete with sand and roaring open fires. This time, 24 hours was all it took to be fully sold out with over 5000 guests. In Frankfurt later that year, the 24th and 25th floors of the NEXTOWER were turned into The Treehouse, offering breathtaking views out over the city. 10,000 lucky diners flocked to the restaurant, with 15,000 more at the bar. From 2011 into 2012, PRET-A-DINER has also worked its magic in Munich and into London, where The Old Vic Tunnels were turned into a combination of Italian gourmet heaven and art lover’s dream, with a special exhibition courtesy of the LAZARIDES gallery.
So what can we expect from this next PRET-A-DINER venture? It has been confirmed that the setting this time will be the historic 50 St. James’s Street, widely regarded as one of the finest hospitality buildings in the world. In terms of its potential success? Only the most hardened of pessimists could overlook previous PRET-A-DINER restaurants attracting acclaim from outlets ranging from Vogue to CNN. Likewise, with stars including Johnny Depp, Madonna, Brad Pitt, Kevin Spacey and Valentino taking in the unrivalled experience of PRET-A-DINER in the past, it is safe to say that the international stars will be back, clambering for a place in this truly unique dining experience.
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