World’s Top 50 Restaurants 2006
Europe-based Restaurant Magazine recently revealed the 50 Best Restaurants in the World for 2006, chosen by an international panel of chefs, food critics and restaurateurs. The panel was divided into 20 voting regions from different parts of the world, each with its own small jury. In total, 560 judges cast 2,800 votes for the best restaurant in their region and in the world.
Claiming the World's Best Restaurant crown is El Bulli in Montjoi, Spain. Ferran Adrian's gastronomically extraordinary restaurant is situated in Roses, on the Costa Brava, approximately two hours north of Barcelona. This seaside hideaway has become a global phenomenon, with an unforgettable 35-course taster's menu. In addition to "Best Restaurant in the World," El Bulli also picked up the coveted award for "Best Restaurant in Europe."
The popularity of cutting edge creation was solidified with the inclusion of last year's winner, The Fat Duck, UK, to the respectable spot of second place (and the only British restaurant in the top 10). The pioneering restaurant is famed for introducing the world to such delicacies as Snail Porridge, Mussels in Popcorn Sauce and Bacon and Egg Ice Cream.
More countries than ever appeared on the list, but it was the French who conquered the globe with 10 restaurants on the list. (It should be noted that an astounding 24 entries out of the top 50 restaurants chosen serve French food.) The United States was second with eight restaurants on the list, while the UK and Spain came in third with six restaurants each (Spain had three restaurants in the top 10).
The French Laundry, in California's Napa valley, was voted "Best Restaurant in the Americas," while Tetsuya's, in Sydney, was voted "Best Restaurant in Australasia." Pierre Gagnaire (#3) was voted the enviable "Chef's Choice" and Spain's Mugaritz (#10) was voted "Highest New Entrant."
According to London's The Independent, "It seems strange that there should be two finalists from South Africa, and two from Sweden, yet not a single entry from the Far East. To have nothing at all from Tokyo, Hong Kong or China is simply not consistent with this well-traveled foodie's experience."
And CNN reported that, "French eateries dominated the top 50 list, with 10 entries, while the number of British top 50 entries fell to six from 14 last year"
The 50 best rankings and a full list of award winners are shown below.
50 Best Restaurants in the World 2006
- El Bulli, Montjoi, Spain - World's Best Restaurant, Best in Europe
- The Fat Duck, Bray, Berkshire, UK
- Pierre Gagnaire, Paris, France - Chef's Choice (voted for by last year's 50 Best)
- French Laundry, Yountville, California, USA - Best Restaurant in the Americas
- Tetsuya's, Sydney, Australia - Best Restaurant in Australasia
- Bras, Laguiole, France
- Restaurant Le Louis XV, Monaco
- Per Se, New York, New York, USA
- Restaurante Arzak, San Sebastian, Spain
- Mugaritz, San Sebastian, Spain - Highest New Entrant
- Can Fabes, Barcelona, Spain
- Nobu, London
- Gambero Rosso, Italy - Highest Climber
- Gordon Ramsay, London
- Restaurant Alain Ducasse, Paris, France
- Jean Georges, New York, New York, USA
- Le Cinq, Paris, France
- Daniel, New York, New York, USA
- Oud Sluis, The Netherlands
- Chez Panisse, Berkeley, California, USA
- El Celler de Can Roca, Spain
- L'Astrance, France
- Hof van Cleve, Belgium
- La Maison Troisgros, France
- L'Atelier, France
- Charlie Trotter's, Chicago, Illinois, USA
- Le Gavroche, London - Outstanding Value
- La Columbe, South Africa - Best Restaurant in the Middle East & Africa
- Enoteca Pinchiorri, Florence, Italy
- Rockpool, Sydney, Australia
- Le Calandre, Italy
- Le Bernardin, New York, New York, USA
- Noma, Denmark
- Restaurant Dieter Muller, Germany
- St. John, London
- Hakkasan, London
- Martin Berasategui, Spain
- Le Quartier Francais, South Africa
- Chez Dominique, Finland
- L'Ambroisie, France
- Die Schwarzwaldstube, Germany
- Dal Pescatore, Italy
- Bocuse, France
- L'Arpege, Paris
- Gramercy Tavern, New York, New York, USA
- Bukhara, India
- De Karmeliet, Belgium
- Oaxen, Sweden
- Comme Chez Soi, Belgium
- Dom, Brazil
Best Restaurants in France:
- Pierre Gagnaire, Paris
- Bras, Laguiole
- Restaurant Alain Ducasse, Paris
- Le Cinq, Paris
- La Maison Troisgros
- L'Arpege, Paris
Best Restaurants in the United States:
- French Laundry, Yountville, California - Best Restaurant in the Americas
- Per Se, New York, New York
- Jean Georges, New York, New York
- Daniel, New York, New York
- Chez Panisse, Berkeley, California
- Charlie Trotter's, Chicago, Illinois
- Le Bernardin, New York, New York
- Gramercy Tavern, New York, New York
Best Restaurants in Spain:
- El Bulli, Montjoi - World's Best Restaurant, Best in Europe
- Restaurante Arzak, San Sebastian
- Mugaritz, San Sebastian - Highest New Entrant
- Can Fabes, Barcelona
- El Celler de Can Roca, Gerona
- Martin Berasategui, Lasarte-Oria
Best Restaurants in the UK:
- The Fat Duck, Bray, Berkshire
- Nobu, London
- Gordon Ramsay, London
- Le Gavroche, London - Outstanding Value
- St. John, London
- Hakkasan, London
Additional Award Winners
- Reader's Choice: Sketch (Gallery) London
Top Ten Best Restaurants in the World: A Review
With sweeping views of the Costa Brava and an unprecedented approach to food, El Bulli is a great adventure for the traveling gourmet. Ferran Adria opens his restaurant from March to September; the rest of the time, he's in his workshop, experimenting with new tastes and techniques. Be his guinea pig and sign up for the 35-course taster's menu.
Bookings: Don't hold your breath, but worth the phone call to see if there are any availabilities.
Where to stay: Nearby Roses is packed and touristy. Head in the other direction to Cala Joncols, for a fairly modest 25-room hotel in its own gardens behind the beach.
THE FAT DUCK
Bray, Berkshire, UK
This is the place that does bacon-and-egg ice cream, snail porridge and sardine-on-toast sorbet. So you can safely say you've never had a meal like it. Run by chef Heston Blumenthal since it opened in 1995, it already has three Michelin stars under its belt. Try the spectacular eight-course tasting menu.
Bookings: Reserve two weeks in advance for weekdays and at least a month ahead for weekends.
Where to stay: Make a gastronomic weekend of it and stay at the Michelin-starred nine-room Waterside Inn.
El Bulli's Adria has been dubbed the Salvador Dali of cooking. Gagnaire should be its Matisse: a bold, experimental chef cooking up a storm in the chic 8th arrondissement. If you want to venture to the frontier of luxe cooking today -- and if money is truly no object -- a dinner here is a must. Chef Pierre Gagnaire's work is at once intellectual and poetic, often blending three or four unexpected tastes and textures in a single dish. Ultra fresh and exotic ingredients include prawns flown in from Madagascar. Leave room for the famous Grand Dessert, seven mini delights such as rum baba, roasted rhubarb and buckwheat pancake. Service is great, as you would expect for the money. The wine list is competent and the wine service very good.
Bookings: Reservations essential and are taken up to a month ahead.
AE, DC, MC, V. Closed Sat. and 2 wks in July. No lunch Sun. and Aug.
Where to stay: The 1920's Hotel Elysees Matignon, which is also in the 8th arrondissement.
"Is it possible that the best French restaurant is not in France?" asks the critic from Le Monde. Well, it certainly appears so. Thomas Keller's Napa Valley French country restaurant is unforgettable. The 10-course tasting menu is incredible. Open with bagaduce oysters and ossetra caviar, then wing through variations on truffles, tuna nicoise, sweet butter-poached lobster, chicken and dumplings, spring lamb and so on, finishing in triumph with the delice au chocolat et caramel.
Bookings: Reserve up to two months in advance.
Where to stay: Continue the French-California theme at Maison Fleurie - five minutes from the restaurant. It has 13 rooms set in a peaceful landscaped garden. Bicycles are provided to help tick off the surrounding Napa wineries.
Every dish is a masterpiece at this amazing inner city oasis, where France walks down the aisle with Japan. Set in a tranquil Japanese Garden, you'll be amazed by what Head Chef Testsuya Wakuda can do with food. Tetsuya's cuisine is unique, based on the Japanese philosophy of natural seasonal flavors, enhanced by classic French technique. Tetsuya's renowned degustation set menu changes frequently. A typical meal could start with a plate of hors d'oeuvres - a gazpacho with spiced tomato sorbet, tartare of tuna with fresh wasabi and tataki of venison with rosemary and honey. Tetsuya's signature dish follows, confit of ocean trout served with unpasteurised ocean trout roe, followed by double cooked de-boned spatchcock with braised daikon and bread sauce, followed by a grilled fillet of grain fed beef with sansho & shiitake mushrooms. Desserts include an orange, honey and black pepper sorbet served prior to a blue cheese bavarois. Finally, early season berries with orange and Grand Marnier jelly and champagne ice cream, a floating island with vanilla and praline anglaise, and a flourless chocolate cake with a bitter chocolate sorbet and orange ice cream. Tetsuya's offers one of Sydney's most remarkable wine lists, and will match the dishes with wine available by the glass. The combination of excellent food and superb service will make this culinary experience unforgettable.
Bookings: Bookings are essential and can be made one week ahead of time. All major credit cards are accepted.
On a hilltop in the middle of the French countryside sits this post-postmodern temple of cuisine, like something that's dropped out of Stanley Kubrick's Space Odyssey. The two menus are a riot of rare ingredients, accompanied by equally rare wines.
Bookings: Phone at least two months in advance. The restaurant is open between April and October; we recommend booking in January.
Where to stay: The easiest way to get a table is to stay at super-cool Michel Bras itself.
RESTAURTANT Le LOUIS XV
As opulent dining rooms go, this has to be the most opulent: huge chandeliers, ornate frescoes and a quite preposterous flower arrangement. It's palatial, but Alain Ducasse's menu does it proud, with true Riviera cuisine: Limousin veal, Pyrenean lamb and amazing local herbs and breads.
Bookings: Call two or three weeks in advance.
Where to stay: Forget the budget. This is Monaco - live how the other half does at the spectacular Hotel de Paris, home to the Louis XV.
Chef Thomas Keller, whose French Laundry, in Yountville, California, is one of the best restaurants in the United States, has opened his newest establishment far from the bucolic Napa Valley. The $12 million Per Se, with a sleek wood-and-glass design by Adam Tihany and views of Columbus Circle, is on the fourth floor of the galleria of shops in the new Time Warner complex, near Central Park. Not only is the food superb (try the sensational rack of baby lamb), it's also fun: miniature ice-cream cones filled with salmon tartare, "Jurassic" salt that's 30 million years old, tiny panna cotta made with cauliflower and topped with an oyster glaze and a dollop of osetra caviar. Don't miss the exotic desserts like poached Asian pear-Spanish almond tart and the perfect crème brûlée topped with a paper-thin sheet of glazed sugar. The service is amazing, unparalleled except perhaps by that at French Laundry. Per Se is grand luxe without the pretention: "Here's coffee and a doughnut," said the waiter, setting down a semifreddo in a cup frothed like a cappuccino alongside a small hot beignet shaped like a ring with a ball on top.
San Sebastián, Spain
San Sebastian is not far from the Atlantic border of France and Spain just south of Biarritz. In this lovely old port town, which looks as if time had stood still, is the Restaurante Arzak. Traditional Basque ingredients are lovingly prepared to produce dishes of superb standard that retain their regional authenticity. Appetizers include such delicacies as Salad of Baby Eels with Fresh Spring Onions; Pate with Carrot Bread and Currant Jelly; Fresh Chestnut Pasta with Vegetables and Veal with Basil; Codfish in a Sauce of Red Peppers and Walnut Oil with Fresh Cheese. Your main course here could be Oven-baked Mullet with Cream of Broccoli and Cardamom or Roast Pigeon with Ginger and Potatoes Baked with Apple and Turmeric. It is only in the desserts that Arratibel reverts to international favorites, offering such delights as Prune Tart with Chocolate and Palm Honey or Orange Crumble with Dried Apricots and Vanilla covered with Condensed Cream with Pistaccio Puree and served with Sorbet. Another favorite dessert is Warm Chocolate Cake with Orange Ice-cream and Raspberry Coulis. Whatever the choice, one's dishes are sure to be interesting, often regional, and always full of flavor and superbly prepared. No wonder many people living 200 kms into France will specially drive to this restaurant to enjoy fine Basque cuisine.
Bookings: Annual closing from June 18th to July 5th and from November 5th to 29th.
San Sebastian, Spain
Two young chefs, David de Jorge and Andoni Luis Aduriz have established the most daring and creative restaurant in the whole of the Basque Region. Every dish is the result of a search for original and tasty solutions to new gastronomic problems. Most of the time the problems are solved with rare perfection: their sea-bass on beetroot juice with olive oil and salsify is a real feast for the eyes and the foie gras sautéed with macadamias, sheep's milk and ficoide (a very rare kind of lettuce), an unusual mixture of textures and tastes. The desserts are perfect, the wine list is well thought out, and every kind of cigar is available. The service is very efficient. The restaurant is not in the city center, but it is worth going out of your way for.
Bookings: Closed for holidays from the third week in December to the second week in January.
NOTABLE CURRENT & PAST "TOP 50 RESTAURANTS": A REVIEW
Chicago, Illinois, USA
Charlie Trotter's is regarded as one of the finest restaurants in the world. For over 18 years, the restaurant has dedicated itself to excellence, so expect some of the best, most innovative food on the planet. If you're not eating in the kitchen (where you get the 15-course Kitchen Menu), your options are the Grand Menu or the Vegetarian Menu, six-course degustations that offer the finest, most pristine ingredients in multi-faceted dishes that make the server's detailed descriptions absolutely necessary. Combinations are complex and often surprising, with influences from just about every world culture that cooks. You might find yourself starting with a small cube that alternates thin slices of orange with house-smoked salmon, or perhaps a diver sea scallop with leek confit and Uruguayan Osetra caviar. Chestnut soup with butternut squash and cloves might precede whole roasted squab with black trumpet mushrooms, oxtail, collard greens, and red-wine-braised carrots, followed by South Dakota bison tenderloin with rutabaga, white polenta, and spiced date. Vegetables might include roasted organic beets with crosnes, porcini mushroom, and garlic chutney. The wine list has few equals in this city, and a good selection of wines is available by the glass and half-glass.
St. James, Barbados
Chef Paul Owen's innovative and creative cuisine has been matched with an imaginative setting awash in candlelight and art, where every table has a view of the Caribbean Sea. The restaurant is located on a cliff top, overlooking the calm waters of the Caribbean. First opened in 1995, The Cliff has established itself as one of the finest and most popular restaurants in the entire Caribbean. Open for dinner only, the restaurant is truly magical at night when it is illuminated with candles and torches for a romantic ambience. The Cliff is famous for cuisine that blends the flavors of the Caribbean with those of other nations. Diners can begin their meal with classic appetizers such as foie gras and chicken liver parfait with apple and raisin chutney and port glaze, ravioli filled with smoked salmon, cream cheese, spinach, or snails in puff pastry. Chef Owen's entrees cover the gamut from traditional dishes such as filet of beef, duck breast with wild mushroom sauce, veal chop with Dijon mustard and tarragon sauce to dishes infused with the exotic such as Thai curried shrimp and grilled snapper with three coriander sauces. Don't miss the restaurant's sinful desserts which include such classics as crème brulee with red berry coulis, chocolate mousse, petit fours as well as baked apple crumble and white chocolate cheesecake.
Bookings: Reservations are required especially during the winter season.
Royal Hospital Road, London
Ramsay's first and best, established in 1998 and sporting a well deserved three stars since 2001. When he's not roasting his kitchen staff, Ramsay oversees a particularly intimate setup here - there are just 14 tables. At $213, the seven-course menu prestige is great value, especially with the wine list starting at $30. Treats include tortellini of lobster and sautéed loin of venison with creamed cabbage and bitter chocolate sauce.
Bookings: You can make a reservation up to one calendar month in advance.
Where to stay: The boutique Myhotel Chelsea is a 15-minute walk from the restaurant.
Rue Troyon, Paris
Just around the corner from the Arc de Triomphe, Savoy completes the Parisian triumvirate, with classic tasting menus from $375. "To grow a carrot, you have to wait several weeks," says the master chef. "We need to have a deep respect for the product." And he does.
Bookings: You are looking at two or three weeks for an 8pm table.
Where to stay: Hotel de Banville (166 Boulevard Berthier; is a classic, right in the heart of Paris and just a five-minute taxi ride from the restaurant (With what you'll be eating you should walk).
New York, New York
Celebrity chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten's prix-fixe restaurant near Central Park is a true culinary destination. The main dining room is dressed in neutral colors, with beige banquettes and minimal decoration. Vongerichten's Asian-accented French cooking shows a like-minded restraint, with some unusual combinations: sea scallops in caper-raisin emulsion with caramelized cauliflower is an outstanding example. Elegant desserts, exceedingly personalized service, and a well-selected wine list contribute to the overall experience. The Nougatine serves a more moderate à la carte menu in the front area, with a view of the open kitchen.
Bookings: Reservations essential one week in advance. Jacket required. AE, DC, MC, V. Closed Sun. Subway: A, B, C, D, 1, 9 to 59th St.-Columbus Circle.
Rue de Montalembert, Paris
Joel Robuchon doesn't have tables in his restaurant - diners sit on bar stools around the open kitchen. So, one of France's best restaurants is a long way from the haughty haute cuisine you might expect. Le Figaro was in no doubt: "C'est une revolution!" Expect to pay about $186.
Bookings: You don't. You turn up with crossed fingers, put your name on the list and wait at the bar.
Where to stay: The restaurant is attached to the historic Hotel Pont Royal or, 15 minutes away, try Hotel de la Tulipe, hidden in an ancient convent.
Park Lane, London
The fact that it is still the ultimate celebrity haunt shouldn't put you off. There are eight Nobu's around the world, but London's is consistently rated the best, its star quality a result not just of the incredible Japanese/South American menu (don't miss the black cod with miso), but of the sophisticated service and style. The chef's menu costs $185.
Bookings: Reserve two weeks ahead for a Friday night, three weeks for a Saturday evening.
Where to stay: Nobu is part of the super-trendy Metropolitan. We recommend trying it.
Head Chef Fergus Henderson is working wonders with some of the strangest cuts of meat you will eat. Once a smokehouse, they have cleverly kept the white stone walled setting intact. Complete with its famous in-house bakery, the bread, which greets you as you sit down, is a welcome appetizer. Mainly a meat eating paradise, the menu changes every day and the latest fare can be found on their website. Their Widgeon, a gamey duck, is soft, succulent and unforgettable. Their Ox tail is served braised, in delicious dark gravy, is fall-off-the-bone incredible. To make the dish an altogether melting experience the accompanying mash is a perfect sidekick. With an excellent wine list, St John is the perfect dining experience.
Exclusive, high quality and worth every penny, Tom Aikens is one of the finest restaurants in London. Celebrities, business people and locals alike are flocking to the restaurant to discover for themselves if the gastronomic modern French cuisine really is up there with the likes of Gordon Ramsay's. Delectable dishes include roasted foie gras with beetroot pickle and syrup, and roast langoustines with peas and braised veal shin. The secluded Elystan Street location, led by a young, talented husband and wife team, Tom Aikens is a real winner. Awarded a Michelin star within 10 months of opening, there is no doubt another is not far away.