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The Real-Life Restaurant The Movie “The Menu” Was Based On

Hawthorne, the murderous restaurant in “The Menu” was inspired by a real dining experience.

“The Menu”, starring Ralph Fiennes and Anya Taylor-Joy is a recent hit on HBO Max. The premise begins with an extremely expensive and exclusive restaurant – so exclusive that you have to take a boat to a private island to enjoy the meal.

Anya Taylor-Joy at the menu movie premiere

While we love exciting restaurant experiences, things take a left turn from there in this horror film. 

“The Menu” is really a horror-comedy, and it takes a hard look at fine-dining and foodie culture. If you’ve seen the movie already, you know that the head chef Slowik, played by Ralph Fiennes, adds a murderous twist to the dining experience with help from his dedicated staff. 

ralph fiennes

The movie parodies other, more realistic features of fine dining, like multi-course tasting menus, molecular gastronomy that may leave you wanting more, and some of the pretentious aspects of exclusive restaurants. 

This has viewers wondering, is “The Menu” based on a real restaurant? 

Luckily, we have the answers! The writers of “The Menu”, Will Tracy and Seth Reiss dished (pun intended) in a recent interview with Bon Appetit.

Tracy confirmed that “The Menu” is based on a real restaurant he experienced on an island off the coast of Norway. He says “​​There’s something relentless about all of these tasting menus. You can’t leave. You’re being held hostage by a story which they’re telling for hours.”

That restaurant is Cornelius Sjømatrestaurant, and much like the film’s restaurant, Hawthorne, the restaurant is on an island and uses the ingredients from the island to create innovative dishes. Luckily, they let their guests leave without injury or death! 

While the setting is based on this island restaurant, the dishes and the overall parody of tasting menus is based on other high-end establishments, including Chicago’s Grace and EL Ideas.

Another influence is Atelier Crenn, whose 3-Michelin star head chef Dominique Crenn served as the culinary consultant on the film, and cooked the meals in the film herself.

So, yes, “The Menu” is based on real-life restaurants – but luckily, only in the exclusivity and enhanced dining experience, not the murder.

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Written by Erin Elizabeth

Erin lives in East Passyunk and enjoys checking out the local restaurants in South Philly and beyond. Her favorite restaurants are those with spicy food and outdoor seating so that she can bring along her dog, Miss Piggy.