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Strange and Different Restaurants

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Opening a new restaurant is risky. 60% of new restaurants close or change ownership within three years. One way to make a restaurant stand out from the crowd is to have a theme, and the wackier the better. It may be as simple as putting costumes on the waiters and decorating the walls, or it may be an entirely new concept, but it probably won't make the food any better. However, strange themes will get valuable publicity.

Dinner in the Sky

Dinner in the Sky is a Brussels based restaurant that serves dinner for up to 22 people"¦ 150 feet in the air! The specially-designed table and chairs are lifted by a crane. Dinner anywhere in Belgium will set you back almost 8 thousand euros; other locations are also available. Remember, you must wear your seat belt, and don't drop your fork!

In the Toilet

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The food at Marton Theme Restaurant in Kaohsiung, Taiwan is in the toilet. Patrons sit on toilets while eating, there are more toilets on the walls, and the food is served in dishes shaped like both eastern and western toilets and urinals. And business couldn't be better. See more pictures here.

Food for What Ails You

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D.S. Music Restaurant in Taipei, Taiwan is a medical-themed restaurant with crutches on the wall, waitresses dressed a nurses, and drinks served from an IV drip bottle! The owner came up with the idea to express his gratitude for care he received at a local hospital.

Pasta You Can't Refuse

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A restaurant situated inside the top security prison Fortezza Medicea in Italy is so popular that officials have since opened more branches.

Serenaded by Bruno, a pianist doing life for murder, the clientele eat inside a deconsecrated chapel set behind the 60ft high walls, watch towers, searchlights and security cameras of the daunting 500-year-old Fortezza Medicea, at Volterra near Pisa.

Under the watchful eye of armed prison warders, a 20-strong team of chefs, kitchen hands and waiters prepares 120 covers for diners who have all undergone strict security checks. Tables are booked up weeks in advance.

I couldn't find a menu, but I made one up for them.

Safe Sex with Dinner

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Cabbages and Condoms is a chain of restaurants in Thailand. There are condoms on the walls and pictures of condoms printed on the carpets. Instead of after-dinner mints, patrons are offered a bowl of condoms at the counter. Profits from the restaurants go to support the Population and Community Development Association (PDA).

Under the Sea

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Ithaa is the name of the underwater restaurant at the Hilton Maldives Resort & Spa. The walls and roof are a transparent acrylic arch. Its capacity is 14 people, who go down a spiral staircase to a depth of five meters. See more pictures here. (image credit: Alexey Potov)

Revolutionary Culture

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Shao Shan Chong Xiang Cai Guan in Nanning, China used the Cultural Revolution of 1966-1976 as a theme. The wait staff dress like Red Guards. Although it's not an era people recall fondly, the restaurant is doing well. The food must be good.

In the Dark

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At Dans le Noir? in Paris and in London, dinner is served in complete darkness to produce a sensory experience completely different from most restaurants. The concept is threefold: 1. you taste your food without visual cues as to what you should expect, 2. you relate to your dinner companion(s) differently when you can't see them, and 3. the wait staff is blind.

A magic switch between sighted and blind people happens. For once, blind people actually become your eyes.
This reversal of roles implies a transfer of trust from the sighted person to the blind guide because without him we are just lost.

Tanya had dinner at Dans le Noir in Paris and wrote about the entire process.

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FRED TANNEAU/AFP/Getty Images
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Animals
Fisherman Catches Rare Blue Lobster, Donates It to Science
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FRED TANNEAU/AFP/Getty Images

Live lobsters caught off the New England coast are typically brown, olive-green, or gray—which is why one New Hampshire fisherman was stunned when he snagged a blue one in mid-July.

As The Independent reports, Greg Ward, from Rye, New Hampshire, discovered the unusual lobster while examining his catch near the New Hampshire-Maine border. Ward initially thought the pale crustacean was an albino lobster, which some experts estimate to be a one-in-100-million discovery. However, a closer inspection revealed that the lobster's hard shell was blue and cream.

"This one was not all the way white and not all the way blue," Ward told The Portsmouth Herald. "I've never seen anything like it."

While not as rare as an albino lobster, blue lobsters are still a famously elusive catch: It's said that the odds of their occurrence are an estimated one in two million, although nobody knows the exact numbers.

Instead of eating the blue lobster, Ward decided to donate it to the Seacoast Science Center in Rye. There, it will be studied and displayed in a lobster tank with other unusually colored critters, including a second blue lobster, a bright orange lobster, and a calico-spotted lobster.

[h/t The Telegraph]

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Courtesy Murdoch University
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Animals
Australian Scientists Discover First New Species of Sunfish in 125 Years
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Courtesy Murdoch University

Scientists have pinpointed a whole new species of the largest bony fish in the world, the massive sunfish, as we learned from Smithsonian magazine. It's the first new species of sunfish proposed in more than 125 years.

As the researchers report in the Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, the genetic differences between the newly named hoodwinker sunfish (Mola tecta) and its other sunfish brethren was confirmed by data on 27 different samples of the species collected over the course of three years. Since sunfish are so massive—the biggest can weigh as much as 5000 pounds—they pose a challenge to preserve and store, even for museums with large research collections. Lead author Marianne Nyegaard of Murdoch University in Australia traveled thousands of miles to find and collected genetic data on sunfish stranded on beaches. At one point, she was asked if she would be bringing her own crane to collect one.

Nyegaard also went back through scientific literature dating back to the 1500s, sorting through descriptions of sea monsters and mermen to see if any of the documentation sounded like observations of the hoodwinker. "We retraced the steps of early naturalists and taxonomists to understand how such a large fish could have evaded discovery all this time," she said in a press statement. "Overall, we felt science had been repeatedly tricked by this cheeky species, which is why we named it the 'hoodwinker.'"

Japanese researchers first detected genetic differences between previously known sunfish and a new, unknown species 10 years ago, and this confirms the existence of a whole different type from species like the Mola mola or Mola ramsayi.

Mola tecta looks a little different from other sunfish, with a more slender body. As it grows, it doesn't develop the protruding snout or bumps that other sunfish exhibit. Similarly to the others, though, it can reach a length of 8 feet or more. 

Based on the stomach contents of some of the specimens studied, the hoodwinker likely feeds on salps, a jellyfish-like creature that it probably chomps on (yes, sunfish have teeth) during deep dives. The species has been found near New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, and southern Chile.

[h/t Smithsonian]

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