Cozy Lucerne, Switzerland, just got a surrealist love letter from Jean Nouvel. Commissioned to transform a 100-year-old stone house into a boutique hotel, the French architect came up with The Hotel, a minimalist fun house of strategically angled mirrors and silk-screened ceilings depicting erotic movie stills. In Room 5402, Brando and Schneider smolder overhead in Last Tango in Paris; in 5101, Malkovich and Pfeiffer enact their dangerous liaison.
But the steamiest scenes take place downstairs in the kitchen of Restaurant Bam Bou, where chef Andrew Clayton is creating dishes that no subtitle can adequately describe. Clayton got his classic licks under Gary Danko at the Ritz-CarltonSan Francisco, then studied Asian cuisine during stints in Phuket, Jakarta and Singapore. He manages to merge Spanish chorizo, Thai lemongrass shrimp and cilantro risotto in Tandoori Breast of Chicken Jambalayaa real feat of global diplomacy. In Rack of Lamb Tandoori, the chops, cooked in a clay oven, rest on a classic potato gratin alongside spicy date puree and tomato confit. Clayton dislikes the word fusion, but whatever name his internationalist cooking goes by, it's got serious Swiss diners dropping their fondue forks in delight (Sempacherstrasse 14; 41-41-226-86-86).
The world is rediscovering modern Finnish design in everything from Marimekko fabrics and Arabia dishes to Nokia cell phones. But perhaps the best place to enjoy the national aesthetic is in Helsinki's restaurants.