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10 Restaurants Defining the Best of Post-Pandemic Future Fine Dining

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What do the next couple of years hold for the fine dining restaurants we all love so dearly? The global COVID-19 pandemic decimated so many lives and businesses, and the food world was among the hardest hit. So what is the future of fine dining going to look like? Well, dear reader, it’s already taking shape – and it looks really interesting. Our correspondent Abbie Martin Greenbaum shares an overview of the 10 restaurants and top trends that seem to be the best at defining the future of global fine dining, post-pandemic, in 2021. And by the way? The future is now.

what will fine dining look like in the future, post the COVID-19 pandemic?

As we all know, the impact of COVID-19 on the restaurant industry has been devastating. Many places around the world have had to shut their doors permanently, and even more have had to reimagine what it means to be a restaurant in 2021. Does it mean a physical space? Does it mean delicious food or does it mean a connection point for a local community?

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Over the last fifteen months, we have watched as restaurants all around the world have reinvented themselves again and again. And although the dust has not yet settled, and we have no idea where they – or the rest of us, for that matter – will end up, these remarkable transformations have given us hope. We all possess a greater power to adapt than we realize.

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Here are some of the most inspiring and intriguing developments from the world of restaurants.

10 Restaurants best Defining the future of fine dining, Post-Pandemic

1. Eleven Madison Park Goes Vegan

10 restaurants best defining the future of global fine dining, post-pandemic
10 restaurants and trends best defining the future of global fine dining, post-pandemic, in 2021.

In what is perhaps the biggest news in fine dining: restaurant giant Eleven Madison Park made the announcement to the New York Times that they would be reopening with a menu that is completely meat-free and vegan.

“The current food system is not sustainable,” chef Daniel Humm told the Times. “Our idea of what luxury is ha[s] to change.” He also noted that every meal at the restaurant will pay for five meals that will go to those who are hungry in New York. We have loved the way so many have emerged from lockdown with a renewed desire to help others and the planet, and we can’t wait to see (and eat!) Eleven Madison Park’s changes in action.

2. Stone Barns Continues Chefs-in-Residence Program

As you may remember, last year Blue Hill at Stone Barns announced they would be giving up the “Blue Hill” portion of their name, and that chef Dan Barber would be giving up the kitchen. Instead, they have been using their legendary establishment to create a chef-in-residence program, giving other chefs the opportunity to cook under Stone Barns’ acclaim. Though they were already heading towards this destination, Barber told the Times that the pandemic gave them a little push. This summer, the residency program continues with a fresh batch of talented chefs. It is beautiful to watch such a successful restaurant opening up doors for the people behind them.

10 restaurants and trends best defining the future of global fine dining, post-pandemic, 2021.
10 restaurants and trends best defining the future of global fine dining, post-pandemic, 2021. Courtesy Photo.

3. Chez Panisse Starts a Farmer’s Market

One of the most incredible things to watch was the way in which the world’s best restaurants pivoted their entire models during the pandemic. In many cases, this meant offering take-out and delivery where they had previously offered only sit-down meals. Many others began selling groceries. And in the case of Chez Panisse, it meant starting a Sunday Market. This idea came not only from a desire to keep their business alive, but also from a desire to protect their farmers. The Sunday Market is still going strong, and is a great example of how these little pandemic-inventions – born from necessity, and from a desire to help others – may become a restaurant’s most-loved features, going into the future.

10 restaurants and trends best defining the future of global fine dining, post-pandemic, 2021. Courtesy Photo.

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4. Lyle’s Makes Provisions a Permanent Fixture

Of course, it is not only US restaurants that have been struggling. London restaurant Lyle’s did what many of our favorite dining establishments have done, and added a box of provisions to their menu. Much has been written about the question of whether restaurants’ meal kits will stick around after the pandemic’s departure. Though it’s hard to say whether people’s desire to go out and experience the world will outweigh their embrace of life in pajamas, but for the moment, many restaurants are keeping provisions as an option. Even though they’ve reopened, Lyle’s is still providing a twice-a-week menu of groceries and dessert for people to enjoy at homes. Only time will tell us if developments like this one survive into a post-COVID world.

10 restaurants and trends best defining the future of global fine dining, post-pandemic, 2021. Courtesy Photo.

5. Zuni Café Eliminates Tipping

Earlier this month, popular San Francisco spot Zuni Café made an announcement: they would eliminate tipping, and instead instate a 20% service charge to increase their staff’s wages. The idea behind this shift is that it will work to provide equal compensation for the front and back of house, and will correct for racism or sexism that might lead to unequal or inappropriate tipping behaviors. We’re glad to see that the pandemic has opened up this conversation, and even more glad for the work from One Fair Wage that helped to kickstart this adjustment.

10 restaurants and trends best defining the future of global fine dining, post-pandemic, 2021.
10 restaurants and trends best defining the future of global fine dining, post-pandemic, 2021. Courtesy Photo.

6. Danny Meyer Reinstates Tipping

On the other end of the spectrum, Danny Meyer has ended his well-known no-tip policy. However, he is making more changes, attempting to ensure that every employee in the restaurant receives equal compensation. Although his approach is the opposite of Zuni Café’s, the point is clear: many of the world’s best restaurants are striving towards a more equitable environment for their staff.

10 restaurants and trends best defining the future of global fine dining, post-pandemic, 2021. Courtesy Photo.

7. Restaurants like Iron Gate Adopt QR Codes Permanently

You may have noticed that many restaurants have adopted QR codes. At first, this seemed like a COVID safety measure – fewer shared objects, less risk of germs. Now it seems like these little black and white boxes may become permanent fixtures of eating out.

10 restaurants and trends best defining the future of global fine dining, post-pandemic, 2021.
10 restaurants and trends best defining the future of global fine dining, post-pandemic, 2021. Courtesy Photo.

After all, reducing a restaurant’s paper trail is also more sustainable, and it cuts down on the amount of labor that a waitstaff has to do. Erik Bergman told Washington City Paper that DC’s Iron Gate would keep the codes instead of distributing paper checks. We are sure that they will not be the only ones to keep this piece of tech, and we’re curious to see the way it alters dining experiences across the board.

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8. Touch-Free Automat opens in Brooklyn Dumpling Shop

Is contactless, tech-fueled dining really the future?  In a world where contact can be dangerous – maybe. The man behind Brooklyn Chop Shop, Stratis Morfogen, is back with a new eatery. And this time it’s an automat. 

10 restaurants and trends best defining the future of global fine dining, post-pandemic, 2021. Courtesy Photo.

Customers make their dumpling selection from a kiosk and pay with one of the ever-popular QR codes. There is no human interaction. Even though the automat’s introduction was planned pre-COVID, the idea seems tailor-made for a germ-fearing world. Only time will tell if these people-free restaurants are a trend or a permanent part of our future.

9. Michelin-Starred Chef Curtis Duffy Opens Burger Restaurant

Another major pandemic trend: the emergence of ghost kitchens. After all, in a time where people can’t eat inside, why would you need to hold onto a dining space?

10 restaurants and trends best defining the future of global fine dining, post-pandemic, 2021.
10 restaurants and trends best defining the future of global fine dining, post-pandemic, 2021. Courtesy Photo.

Curtis Duffy, earner of three Michelin stars, is the man behind Chicago fine dining restaurant Ever. But during the pandemic, he switched gears to something much more casual – something without a dining room: Rêve Burger. Will fast casual and take-out prevail over fine dining? We’ll have to wait and see.

10. Seattle’s Canlis Proves That No Version is Final

Seattle’s restaurant destination of 70 years, Canlis, was the one to watch over the last year. Why? They changed their business model over and over, transforming to suit their community’s needs.

10 restaurants and trends best defining the future of global fine dining, post-pandemic, 2021.
10 restaurants and trends best defining the future of global fine dining, post-pandemic, 2021. Courtesy Photo.

For example, the once-a-formal-sit-down-restaurant is currently Camp Canlis. Customers can enjoy low-key barbecue and campfires, but also fine dining in a treehouse or private yurt. And of course, there are also “Camp Canlis Care Packages.” Canlis’s magical ability to do it all, and do it well, summarizes this moment perfectly: though we don’t know where the restaurant industry is heading, what we do know is that, wherever it is, it’s going to land on its feet.

restaurants and trends defining the future of global fine dining

That’s our take on the 10 restaurants and top trends that seem to be doing the best at defining the future of global fine dining, post-pandemic, in 2021. If it is possible to build back better, this industry seems committed to doing so. Which is really inspiring.

What do you think, dear reader? And have you been back to your favorite restaurant yet this year?

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This article contains affiliate links to products independently selected by our editors. As an Amazon Associate, Dandelion Chandelier receives a commission for qualifying purchases made through these links. 

Abbie Martin Greenbaum grew up in New York City and currently lives in Brooklyn, where she drinks a lot of coffee and matches roommates together for a living. At Oberlin College, she studied English and Cinema, which are still two of her favorite things, along with dessert and musical theater. She believes in magic.

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Join our community! For access to insider ideas and information on the world of luxury, sign up for our Dandelion Chandelier newsletter. 

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