In the ever-competitive world of fine dining, restaurants are always looking for the next big thing. In recent years, and inspired by Ekstedt in Stockholm, many chefs have returned to primal cooking over wood fires to attract the crowds. The trend has gone global and, with a vested interest in anything wood fire related, we decided to take a look at six of the best such eateries.
This revolutionary restaurant opened its doors in November 2011 with Chef Niklas Ekstedt at the helm.
Disillusioned by his traditional training and its dismissal of Scandinavian cooking, he decided to return to his roots.
A wood-fired oven, a fire pit and a wood stove, together with a host of equipment that would look at home on The Flintstones, Ekstedt produces rustic, yet beautiful, food that has earnt the restaurant a Michelin star.
Niklas also put a couple of finalists in the BBC’s Masterchef programme through their paces as they tried their hand at cooking on wood.
Combining the South Africans love of meat and flames, Marble is a stunning restaurant that uses a huge, wood-fired grill for cooking.
You’d be wrong to assume this makes it little more than an upmarket BBQ, despite the fact grilled food appears within every course on the menu including desserts.
From fire-roasted cauliflower to flamed mussels and burnt-orange salad, the aesthetics of each dish are stunning, as are the surroundings themselves.
Pitt Cue, London
What started life as a food truck is now a full-blown, cooking-on-wood restaurant in the heart of London.
Not for the faint-hearted or the vegetarians amongst us, it’s menu is sophisticated BBQ and its clientele has a male bias, also attracted by the restaurant's new micro-brewery.
The wood grill used by the restaurant was imported from the US at a cost of around £80,000, so they take cooking on wood very seriously.
Patagonia Sur, Argentina
Chef Francis Mallman is probably the most famous chef in South America and his book, entitled “Cooking And The Seven Fires”, gives a bit of a clue about his approach to food.
He has several restaurants to his name, but perhaps the most famous is Patagonia Sur in Buenos Aires.
Mallman is another chef who became fed up with serving French food and decided to revert to traditional Patagonian roots methods of cooking including the use of open fires.
The restaurant has more the air of a quirky family home than thriving business and it can be hard to find – it has no signage and is located in a dubious area so the door might often be locked during opening hours.
This is Southern cooking at its best. The restaurant’s motto is ‘if it ain’t from the south, it ain’t coming through the door’ – so everything is fresh, local and authentic.
Renowned for cooking on wood, their dishes range from the wonderfully sophisticated (Chilled White Stone Oysters, Roasted Pepper, Peanut, Lovage) to something as straightforward as shrimp and grits or a BBQ chicken sandwich.
As ingredients go out of season, they’ll smoke or pickle them to use in their dishes. Chef Sean Brock is famous in the States and his first cookbook, Heritage, was on the NY Times bestseller list.
El Diablo, Lanzarote
Not so much cooking on wood, but cooking on a volcano, this aptly-named restaurant (The Devil) uses geothermic heat to flavour its food.
Serving Mexican food in the Canary Islands amidst a lunar landscape, whilst the food is tasty, it’s more about the experience than the menu.
Even trying to find their website is a challenge and the best we could do was the Facebook page.