Since then the world’s eateries have fought fiercely to out-weird each other and the modern diner is spoilt for choice when it comes to unusual eateries. Here are some of our favourites:
1) Heart Attack Grill, Las Vegas, USA
Part Hooters, part cardiac arrest; this hospital-themed restaurant puts patrons in patient gowns, has nurses as waiting staff and a menu of oversized burgers and lard-fried chips. Wine here is administered in intravenous drips, while those weighing over 350lb eat for free. But be warned: if you don’t finish your meal, the waiting staff will spank you with a paddle.
450 Fremont Street, Las Vegas, USA (tel: +1 702 722 2180; www.heartattackgrill.com).
2) The Clink, Cardiff, Wales
Demolishing social prejudices and hunger pans with every serving, The Clink is located in the grounds of a working prison where inmates cook and serve the food. Open-minded punters able to think past soap-dropping and shanking will be served delicious British cuisine by proud and attentive waiting staff. The restaurant is a flagship charity project that helps prisoners gain nationally recognised qualifications in an attempt to lower reoffending rates, so a meal here will help you feel good inside and out.
3) Hurwundeki, London, England
Taking the phrase ‘short back and sides’ to a whole new level, London’s Hurwundeki combines a hairdresser’s with a Korean restaurant. Its quick haircuts are a snip, leaving more time and money to enjoy the bibimbap (roast vegetables with rice) or Korean pancakes. Just look out for a hair in your soup…
4) New Lucky Restaurant, Ahmedabad, India
This restaurant has a dead atmosphere – and is rather proud of it. If you want to rest in peace and drink tea next to the deceased, try New Lucky Restaurant, which was built upon a Muslim cemetery. Upon setting up, the owner placed tables around the graves instead of excavating them, which breathed new life into the business.
Opposite City College, Lal Darwaja, Ahmedabad, India (tel: +91 79 2550 5033).
5) The Green Plane, Accra, Ghana
Once destined for the scrap yard, this decommissioned jet has found a new lease of life as a restaurant in the Ghanaian capital, Accra. Popular with locals – many of whom have never been on a plane before – the aircraft was once impounded at Heathrow Airport because of unpaid debts by the now defunct Ghana Airways. Today it’s better known for its guinea fowl.
La Tante DC 10 Restaurant, Accra Kotoka International Airport, Ghana.
6) Attendant, London, England
Londoners dashing into this Victorian toilet will spend more than a penny nowadays, after it was converted into a gourmet café. Original features abound in this former West London lavatory, where guests can quaff posh sandwiches and skinny lattes in urinals, which have been converted into individual booths.
7) Ninja, New York, USA
It is said that irony is lost on Americans, and for a restaurant themed around the stealth of the ancient shinobi warrior, things are a little gimmicky and obtrusive at Ninja. Dressed up like a dark, old Japanese city, the servers are clad as ninjas and take delight in jumping out of dark corners and swinging from the ceiling. They also perform tricks at the table as diners chow down on Japanese grub.
25 Hudson Street, Manhattan, New York, USA (tel: +1 212 274 8500; ninjanewyork.com).
Can you spot the shinobi warrior at Ninja New York?Can you spot the shinobi warrior at Ninja New York?
Ninja New York
8) Disaster Café, Costa Brava, Spain
Hold onto your hats, plates and loved ones, during an evening at this uniquely themed restaurant where diners are ‘treated’ to a simulated 7.8 magnitude earthquake during their meals. The lights go dark and the whole room shakes as tables and chairs crash around. Because the tremor can occur at any time, it’s probably wise to avoid ordering the soup.
9 Calle Francesc Layret 9, 17310 Lloret de Mar, Girona, Spain (tel: +34 972 360 025).
9) Curry Station Niagara, Tokyo, Japan
Coated in train memorabilia, much of which dates back to when the restaurant opened – remarkably over 50 years ago – the Curry Station Niagara is the first stop in Tokyo for curry lovers. Ran by Japan’s biggest model train enthusiast, hungry diners sit in passenger car-style seats (from actual trains) and have their orders of katsu (deep fried pork curry) and ebi furai (deep-fried prawn) delivered by miniature model trains.
1 Chome−21-2, Yutenji, Meguro,〒153-0052 Tokyo, Japan (tel: +81 3 3713 2602).
10) Ka-Tron (‘Flying Chicken’) Restaurant, Bangkok, Thailand
Ka-Tron has been welcoming guests to its Bangkok eatery for two decades who rave about the tantalising chicken, which is neither grilled nor roasted, but marinated in a sauce that is a fusion of Thai and Western ingredients. Of course, the chicken is then set on fire, catapulted across the restaurant and caught by waiters riding unicycles – but what else would you expect in Bangkok?