On first glance, The Passenger restaurant, recently opened in the trendy Malasaña neighborhood’s Triball area in Madrid, Spain, appears like any retro dining establishment with heavy-handed use of leather, brass and dark wood. Yet there is a distinct undertone of a train, of a fine passenger train of a bygone era.
The bulky and clubby arm chairs, the iron table legs, the big windows all refer to a time when heads of state and industrialists, often travelling with their wives and servants, occupied entire train cars and dined in the most lavishly appointed dining cars rivalling the best-known fine establishments of the time.
But the real fun aspect of the 150-seat The Passenger -- coffee bar by day, rock bar by night -- is the illusion of movement. The three “windows” in the main seating area are actually video screens onto which a constant, synchronized stream of video is programmed so that it flows from window to window, creating a feeling of looking out the window of a moving train.
The stylized train view, evoking an alternate state of being in the middle of busy Madrid, was created by Spanish video artist Franger. The images of both urban scenes and natural landscapes were recorded from actual trains around the world.
The restaurant’s designers at Parolio took their inspiration from the long-and-narrow space and then continued with the train travel concept throughout. Consistent with the classic rock music played at night, the main hall of the restaurant is decorated with images of the greatest stars of classic rock pictured in trains and railway stations.
The Passenger’s owners are young Spanish actors Rodrigo Taramona and Jimmy Castro with entrepreneurs Miguel Peman and Carlos Carrillo. - Tuija Seipell