You cross a wooden walkway, walk down some steps, and find a restaurant with just six tables. Not so strange. On the menu are items like reef-fish carpaccio and Wagyu beef. Not so strange either. But look up and you'll see what makes Ithaa, a $5-million eatery in the Maldives, so unique: an acrylic bubble overhead that showcases the stingrays, collared butterfly fish, and blue-faced angelfish that swim through the crystal-clear water. Welcome to the world's first aquarium-style underwater restaurant.
Ithaa is part of the oddball restaurant revolution, which today can land you in some shocking places-ones that will, amidst today's frenzy of rock star celebrity chefs and limitless restaurant openings, make an indelible impression. We're not talking about theme restaurants, which have been serving mediocre food via swashbuckling pirates and celebrity look-alikes for years. These are places with serious food, despite their kooky settings.
"People love to do extraordinary things that distinguish themselves from their neighbors, colleagues and friends," suggests restaurateur David Ghysels. "They want unusual and adventurous experiences." His restaurant company-Dinner in the Sky-offers just that: Guests are hoisted 165 feet in the air on a platform table attached to a crane.