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Five cool restaurants and bars that prove looks matter when it comes to dining out

October 10, 2017

Food quality alone is no longer enough to satisfy discerning diners. The Waiting Room bar in Perth’s Crown Towers. Photo: Supplied

We all know someone who won’t let anyone touch their food before sharing a carefully angled snap of it on social media (as they like to say: “the camera eats first”).

But ask any seasoned Instagrammer and they’ll tell you the surroundings in which you eat are just as important.

As the foodie culture grows in Australia, the public is becoming savvier about what constitutes a quality dining experience. This year’s Eat Drink Design Awards will showcase Australia and New Zealand’s best design in restaurants, bars, cafes, installations and retail environments that have opened to the public in the past 18 months.

The final winners will be announced in mid November, but these are five of the most striking spaces in the shortlist, one from each category.

Restaurant – Madame Shanghai, Sydney 

Madame Shanghai is located in the inner Sydney suburb of Darlinghurst. Photo: Supplied Madame Shanghai is located in the inner Sydney suburb of Darlinghurst. Photo: Supplied

The work of Melissa Collison Design, Madame Shanghai’s old-school charm and chinoiserie furnishings brings you back to the golden days of 1930s Shanghai.

Design highlights include rattan panels, Chinese medallion detailing and grand palace lanterns. The emerald green bar room features a gold ceiling, an interesting way to add light to the space.

Grand lanterns light up the emerald green bar room. Photo: Supplied Grand lanterns light up the emerald green bar room. Photo: Supplied

The dramatic blue room has plush custom-designed carpets, black ceiling panels with rattan ceiling fans and blue velvet curtains. An intimate dining experience is lit up by small table lamps.

The restaurant, with views over Hyde Park, serves up Shanghainese street food, an unconventional yum cha menu and cocktails.

Bar – The Waiting Room, Perth

The Waiting Room is in Burswood, Western Australia. Photo: Supplied The Waiting Room is in Burswood, Western Australia. Photo: Supplied

Overlooking Swan River, The Waiting Room in Perth’s Crown Towers is a blend of the local ideas and the brand’s trademark luxury aesthetic.

The swimming pool extends from the porte-cochere to the outer bar, connecting it to the nearby river.

Mixing local character with luxury. Photo: Supplied Mixing local character with luxury. Photo: Supplied

Elaborate rose gold pendant lights hang on high ceilings above the bar, which is without a doubt the centrepiece of the Bates Smart-designed space.

The outdoor area has built-in seating and plenty of greenery to complement the views.

Café – No. 19, Melbourne

Brunch with a touch of Greek deli-style interiors in Ascot Vale, Melbourne. Photo: Supplied Brunch with a touch of Greek deli-style interiors in Ascot Vale, Melbourne. Photo: Supplied

Moroccan handmade tiles keep the minimalist design colourful. Photo: Supplied Moroccan handmade tiles keep the minimalist design colourful. Photo: Supplied

Inspired by the Greek delicatessens that popped up in Melbourne in the 1950s, No. 19’s design concept is modern and minimalist.

The Moroccan handmade tiles and the palette of the seating upholstery are notable elements of the modern interiors.

Minimalism can be seen in the grey concrete surfaces, brass finishes and understated lighting.

Designed by Biasol, their priority was to develop a relationship between the dining zones through the configuration of seating to elevate the overall experience.

Installation – Great Southern Rail Platinum Club, Adelaide

Travel interstate in style. Photo: Supplied Travel interstate in style. Photo: SuppliedDine with views through the picture windows. Picture: SuppliedDine with views through the picture windows. Picture: Supplied

Blending a contemporary design with a respect for a rich heritage of travel, the revamp of the Great Southern Rail’s Platinum Club is redefining Australian rail tourism.

One of the key highlights of the Woods Bagot-designed concept is the adaptability of the train carriage, which was cleverly borrowed from hotel design, where a single room changes function and ambience throughout the day.

Travellers can enjoy the same space for breakfast, lunch, dinner and lounge functions, with convertible bedding and tables.

Retail – Suki, Brisbane

A fresh menu is complemented with a colourful interior design. Photo: Supplied A fresh menu is complemented with a colourful interior design. Photo: Supplied

The illuminated shopfront won't go by unnoticed. Photo: SuppliedThe illuminated shopfront won’t go by unnoticed. Photo: Supplied

Introducing the poke bowl concept to Brisbane, the owners of Suki had good reason to go for an eye-grabbing design to underscore its fun and fresh menu.

Evoking a sense of California cool, baby pink, sky blue and aqua are splashed across the store.

Hanging swing chairs and pot plants add to the laid-back, lazy mood of the space.

But the most eye-catching feature was the product of the Collectivus team and lighting designers Viv/id: the illuminated shopfront and neon lighting to highlight the logo.

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