07 Dec 2018 • United Kingdom
This restaurant is in Birmingham, but it might as well be in David Lynch’s 80s
If Charli XCS and Ariana Grande’s recent video homages to the late 90s and early 2000s are making you feel old, fear not: the 80s are still hot nostalgia territory at Nocturnal Animals, a new restaurant in the West Midlands.
Chef Alex Claridge came up with the menu while listening to a Spotify playlist titled All Out 80s, and handed over the link to the design team at Faber to help them conceive the food’s spatial equivalent. That’s where the vividly colourful graphic prints, the kitsch neon signage and the postmodernist furniture silhouettes come from. And the passageways? Even if Twin Peaks is a child of the next decade, think 1986’s Blue Velvet, instead: David Lynch’s hallway trope is heavily referenced in the restaurant’s interior.
Beyond those passageways, the central spot makes use of the double-height space with a monumental cocktail bar that towers over the ground floor. And you’re not imagining things: the fuchsia voile hangings above the seats do indeed feature a pattern inspired by VHS glitches and white-noise imagery.
One of the most interesting spaces, though, is more cosy than gargantuan. The mixology team get to work on a chef’s table of sorts – a bartender’s table, as the restaurant is calling it – that gives patrons the change to see, up close, how the fluorescent colour palettes and six signature fruits turn into cocktails. The space feels intimate, separated from the rest of the bar by a slightly raised platform and cocoon-like booth seating.
And yet there is one small detail that describes Faber’s vision for the place quite succinctly: in the toilets, the wallpaper looks like French toile from afar. Upon closer impression, though, it reveals a series of provocative nightlife scenes in a bespoke pattern put together by Scottish purveyors Timorous Beasties.
‘Every element of the space has been designed to engender this feeling of a tongue-in-cheek knock at fine dining,’ said Faber founder Tony Matters. ‘I think the whole concept really captures Alex [Claridge’s] approach to cooking: making amazing food accessible, but still offering something completely out of the ordinary, unexpected and experience-led.’