Forget Central Perk from F.R.I.E.N.D.S. or Diagon Alley from the Harry Potter series, as a new crop of cafes from your favourite shows and movies come to life. Be it 221B Baker Street in Shanghai or Pandorica in Beacon, NY, pack your bags and set off on a ride that will see you really get into character
Claim to fame: Sherlock
USP: The Moriarty – A sinfully strong coffee topped with vanilla ice cream and Sherlock-themed costumes
If you thought 221B Baker Street was in London, check again, because this Sherlock Holmes-themed cafe is situated in the heart of Shanghai’s French Quarter (called French Concession). Designed to look like Holmes and Watson’s shared apartment, the place features Victorian-esque details such as brocade curtains apart from morbid articles like a skull, a pipe, and a microscope (for Holmes’ forensic examinations, perhaps?). While there, be sure to check out the memorabilia wall that stocks the mini-series-themed merchandise, such as miniature dolls of Martin Freeman as Dr Watson. You can also click pictures with the props if you wish and munch on sandwiches and tea cakes.
Claim to fame: Downton Abbey
USP: A decadent breakfast fit for the Crawleys
Right out of Grantham Estate, The Criterion at London’s Piccadilly Circus is a great place to soak in the opulence of the Crawley family’s fortunes. The restaurant forms the setting where Lady Edith met Michael Gregson for a romantic date. Apart from its connection to the addictive Downton Abbey, it is said to be the place where Sir Arthur Conan Doyle first imagined the meeting of Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson and was also part of the film The Dark Knight. Soak in the beauty of the gilded ceilings and the artistic tile work while lounging in plush chairs and tucking into the eatery’s elaborate Grantham-style breakfast, which includes confit duck leg and fried egg waffle or French toast with Parma ham, peanut butter, a cinnamon crust and maple syrup.
Pac a punch
Claim to fame: Pixels
USP: Pac-Man platters, old school arcade games and 16-lane bowling alley with a yellow head pin
Geeks and gamers will love Chicago’s tribute to the arcade game Pac-Man, which opened a few months ago, just in time for the character’s film return with Pixels. Level 257 is the ideal place to grab a bite and play some games, too. Not your childhood arcade, it has the right amount of quirk and sophistication – bringing in cocktails, bar nibbles and international mains. While the menu doesn’t reflect the theme, you’ll find enough in the form of kale salads, beef steaks and the quintessential pop rocks.
Call on the doctor
Claim to fame: Doctor Who
USP: Corn dogs and an owner who dresses up as characters
If Pandorica means something to you, then book your tickets right away for New York and head to Beacon, a quick drive from NYC, to dine like a Time Lord. Beautifully reflecting the theme of Doctor Who (Pandorica is the prison to keep the Doctor safe, for the uninitiated), the restaurant has charming TARDIS (the Doctor’s time machine that looks like phone booth) bathrooms, the creepy snowmen from the Christmas specials and a Vincent van Gogh exploding TARDIS made to look like his painting The Starry Night.
Claim to fame: Wes Anderson
USP: Steve Zissou and Castello Cavalcanti-themed pinball machines
Who didn’t lust over Wes Anderson’s visual genius that was The Grand Budapest Hotel? If you want to live that kind of whimsical dream, then pack your bags for Milan. In the recently-opened Prada Cultural Cente (Fondazione Prada), Anderson’s latest creation, Bar Luce is a cafe that boasts a look reminiscent of 50s and 60s films from Italy, meaning the walls are made to look like buildings. Adding to the magical fantasy, it also sports green Formica table tops as seen in Anderson’s “Castello Cavalcanti”. Plus, a retro jukebox to really take you back in time.