At Frankfurt’s Bonechina – the latest venture from the Lindenberg group who are also behind the Libertine Lindenberg hotel – the humour begins even before you step in. For starters, the charming three-storey shingled block that dates back to the mid-18th-century on a cobbled street features an old-fashioned signboard. Hanging off the side of the building, its rebus declares the pre-emptive alibi of the evasive criminal: ‘I was at home last night’.
Step inside, and the interiors are so entirely unexpected, it’s almost as if you’d accidentally wandered onto the set of a grown-up version of ‘Alice in Wonderland’. For this, hats off to Studio Aberja for conceiving a bar in which there is a literal elephant in the room. About the size of a St. Bernard, the all-blue porcelain pachyderm – its trunk spurting tonic water – was created by sculptor Marc Rammelmüller and stands astride a broad-based plinth that doubles as the bar. Meanwhile, unevenly jointed, diamond-cut ceramic tiles in shades of blue and anthracite ripple in a glossy wave around the walls of the bijou room. These are inset with shallow timber-lined vitrines that hold objets and pot plants.
Bonechina’s other conceit is the absence of a bartender. Instead, guests, once roused from the backless wooden benches and deep backed stools, gather around the elephant to mix their own drinks. The ice-cubes are infused with Vetiver and sandalwood, whilst whiffs of yuzu and bergamot float from hidden aerosol diffusers, proving once again that not all bars are created equal.