Mökki — Astana, Kazakhstan
Much like Dubai and Bandar Seri Begawan, Astana is an absorbing case-study in steroid-fuelled urban planning – a fully-fledged city that seems to have spontaneously bloomed overnight out of, to be frank, nothing. In many ways, this has given its architects and designers carte blanche to freestyle in a way they might not otherwise be able to in a more controlled setting.
That said, Mökki restaurant in the city’s freshly minted Ritz-Carlton is a soothing example of how, in the right hands, fantasist flourishes can be tempered with sleek, modernist accents that prevent the whole from degenerating into an overblown pastiche of gaudy excess.
The London-based studio Blacksheep has anchored the third-floor restaurant – itself, divided into a bakery, grill, deli and communal space – with a soft undulating ribbed ceiling that flows into the floor as tree-like pillars. In turn, this airy abstract forest is quietly highlighted with Italian oak floors, Calacatta gold marble, bronze mirrors and brass pendant lamps that cast warm light to counter the cold stonework.
The all-day dining menu – think scallop tartar with mango foam, duck shashlik, beef cheek ragu, and peach pavlova – alongside extensive seating zones conspire with the light flooding in through high windows and a skylight to create a surprisingly intimate retreat that is belied with the expansiveness of the space.