Forget Ludlow, for the hottest of gourmet hot spots right now, check out the virtual world of Second Life (aka SL).
For those who aren't familiar with it, allow us to introduce a virtual world complete with shops, embassies, and yes, restaurants, set up by California's Linden Lab.
Simply download a bit of software and you too can be a resident.
Second Life is bizarre for all sorts of reasons, not least the fact that you can convert Linden dollars, its virtual currency, into real US dollars. A whole raft of strange types have jumped on the media-driven bandwagon, from estate agents looking for a quick buck, to virtual terrorist organisations who bombard their targets with gigantic flying penises. That's not even counting the roaring trade in "erotic services" that caters for all tastes, no matter how odd.
In among the weirdness it's the normal things that really stand out. Why have restaurants when an avatar (your virtual representative in Second Life) has no need to eat? And, in a place where the impossible is commonplace, why have a sit-down restaurant? Why not ‘eat' your virtual meal astride a giant banana high above the clouds?
Like the thriving sex scene, restaurants in Second Life cater for all tastes. Fancy some Viking-themed eating? Make sure your avatar is suitably bearded, braided and armoured and get yourself down to Krogen Den Gyllene Hasten (The Golden Horse Inn). Sit on wooden benches by a roaring fire, arm wrestle other hairy slabs of muscle and indulge in manly pursuits.
If it's something a little more spiritual you're after then make a beeline for the Fisher of Men restaurant. After the robotic host bids you "welcome to our Christian restaurant", you're instructed by the alarming waiter with piercing blue eyes to "touch me for great service". Owned by the terribly biblical Joshua Enoch, this is a place that really can feed the five thousand. As it's all online, why limit yourself? Why not feed fifty thousand, or even five million?
From the spiritual to the sensual, the Golden Pavilion is an altogether more earthly place. Its lustrous décor puts Monaco's Le Louis XV to shame. Everything is gold – from floor tiles to ceiling lights. The atmosphere is more bacchanalian than regal. This is a place where the food comes a definite second.
The Arbor also plays on the sensual nature of food, but is more into romance than rumpy-pumpy. This tree-house venue has a number of discreet tables around its platform. What makes it interesting is that it is one of the few full-service restaurants with paid staff. With an hourly wage of 40 Linden dollars (8p) it would be the envy of any restaurant owner if only they could make that tricky transition from the virtual to the rather less lucrative real world.