Mark Mylod’s dark comedy film ‘The Menu’ revolves around a group of rich individuals who end up on a private island to savor the food of Julian Slowik, a celebrity chef. Upon arriving at the island, the group settles in Slowik’s famed restaurant named Hawthorne to experience the unbelievable dishes he prepares with his chefs. What starts as a fine dining experience becomes a nightmare for the group as they soon realize that they are trapped inside the restaurant. The realization leads them to try to find a way out of the place, only for Slowik to remain an inescapable obstacle. Since the majority of the film is set in Hawthorne, the viewers must be wondering whether it’s a real restaurant. Well, let us share the answer!
Is Hawthorne a Real Restaurant? Where is it Located?
No, Hawthorne is not a real restaurant. The establishment is a fictional restaurant conceived by the production designer of the film Ethan Tobman, in collaboration with the director Mark Mylod. Fundamentally, Hawthorne is like any Michelin-starred restaurant that is located all across the globe. The restaurant has an extensive kitchen setup for Slowik to prepare any food he wants to make and a dining area that’s overlooking the beach for the customers to dine with an impeccable ambiance and view. However, a real restaurant wasn’t used by Mylod to film the restaurant scenes of the film.
Tobman had to create an entire set for Mylod to film the restaurant scenes. “We basically built the façade of the restaurant as well as enough hallway to film actors going through a door and walking into the ‘esophagus’ of the restaurant—but then they’d walk into a blue screen. The interiors were shot on a stage,” the production designer told Condé Nast Traveler.
The set was built on Tybee Island, a barrier island near the city of Savannah, Georgia. “Tybee Island was beautiful—and it did have a very long path through a very long field, leading to a very old barn. […] So we covered the path with white limestone, and lined it with Brutalist lamps, and covered all the brickwork with concrete,” Tobman said in the same interview about the construction of the set.
Mylod and Tobman weren’t building a random set to stand in for Hawthorne as meticulous efforts were behind the creation of the same. “Two key elements for me was that there were this open plane kitchen so that we could have two worlds: this kinda microcosm of society to a certain extent, ‘the givers and the takers,’ between the dining room and the kitchen,” Mylod told Indie Wire about the construction of the restaurant set. The distance between the unbreakable glass of the restaurant and the beach represents the “untenable, unreachable freedom represented by the ocean outside that window,” as per Mylod’s Indie Wire interview.
The nuances of Hawthorne were designed with the help of Dominique Crenn, a three-Michelin-starred chef who worked as a consultant in the film. “I was designing the plates that would house the film’s dishes, and a fully functioning kitchen that had to pass the rigors of a Michelin chef’s opinion,” Tobman added to Condé Nast Traveler about his collaboration with Crenn.
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