The Upgrade

In Praise of Pink

From China to Moscow to Palm Springs, a number of recent restaurant openings have deployed the color with a deft, dare we say, tasteful touch. Here are four on our radar. 

Rare Pastrami Bar by Crosby Studios.

Restaurant designers continue to be punch drunk on the Pepto-Bismol tint known as Millennial Pink, as we’ve disdainfully noted. They are just one group among many wrapped up in this global embrace for all things ‘post-pretty’ as The Guardian describes this cultural shift towards “a way to be pretty while retaining your intellectual detachment.” But maybe we’ve been a little harsh on the color.

I understand the attraction, although I trace my affection for pink back to long before the first Millennial was born. My father worked for Technicolor in the early 1970s. Befitting their pioneering color processes for motion pictures, his bosses booked my Manhattanite parents and me into the Beverly Hills Hotel, making flamingo pink the first color in my memory bank. Originally white and now a more muted version of its 1948 makeover, when the hotel was washed in a distinctive blush to complement the California sunset, this currently controversial establishment is where my heart time travels upon seeing the color in any shade, from nature’s sun-kissed grapefruits and salmon sashimi to utterly artificial bubble gum hues splashed across everything in the Museum of Ice Cream.

Much has been written about the psychology of great restaurant interior design. Suffice it to say I think we can all use an extra jolt of sweetness these days, even better while breaking (gluten-free, for me) bread with friends in these restaurants with pink motifs. 

Rare Pastrami Bar

The Brooklyn-based, Russian architect Harry Nuriev and his Crosby Studios had Instagram on their minds when crafting the minimalist palette for this restaurant named for its meat-leaning menu in Moscow’s Milyutinskiy Pereulok neighborhood. The space is awash in raw concrete juxtaposed with metallic rose corrugated sheets, with oversized disc light fixtures that reference pastrami slices hanging from the ceiling. Even the gender-neutral bathrooms are on trend here, housed within two cylinders in a corner of the restaurant that Nuriev likens to art objects.

Martyn Lawrence Bullard's design at Pink Cabana in Palm Springs.

Pink Cabana

At the heart of this 1950s motel along California’s Highway 111 in Coachella Valley, Hollywood’s favorite interior designer Martyn Lawrence Bullard channeled the Beverly Hills Hotel’s exterior as well as its iconic palm frond wallpaper at this newcomer. He also payed homage to Palm Spring’s own heyday as Tinseltown’s playground, expressed in the vintage images hung throughout the high-ceilinged space. Though dishes from Jeremiah Tower protégé Jason Niederkorn are decidedly modern and ethically sourced, like the wild king salmon fished by Native Americans on the Columbia River. 

Pink is used subtly at Budapest Café in Chengdu, China.

The Budapest Café

Credit Wes Anderson’s film The Grand Budapest Hotel with unleashing the blush lust, it certainly won over the owners of this casual eatery in the Chinese city of Chengdu. They hired Melbourne-based studio Biasol to kit out the multi-elevation space in white and mint with splashes of pink. The marble bar and lots of terrazzo gets warmed by elegant arched frames lined with recessed seating and neon signage inspired by Anderson’s whimsical films. Soft cotton candy–hued balls stack up in one corner alongside an original Eero Aarnio acrylic and stainless steel bubble chair to finish off the fresh, bold fun. 

Outside Kong Kong's Hotal Colombo.

Hotal Colombo

That pale shade of cherry blossom on the exterior of this new dining address along Hong Kong’s Elgin Street references Cargills, a colonial landmark in the Sri Lankan capital, yet the muted application of the color mixed with sky blue on the walls belies the fiery flavors from Sri Lankan chef Gisela Alesbrook. Inside the narrow 40-seat dining room, Alesbrook’s menu pays homage to the humble canteens with palatial names that proliferate her native island nation in the Indian Ocean. Baila music sets a tropical vibe as servers courier trays of curry bowls and coconut milk pancakes. 

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