Travel and Dining
World's Top 50 Restaurants 2010
Each year since inception, the gathering of votes and compilation of the list has become more measured. With a stable of well-traveled opinion-forming critics and chefs, restaurants that break through to the top 50 best restaurants in the world are impressing the harshest, most educated palates across the globe.
Claiming the Best Restaurant in the World number one spot is Copenhagen's Noma. Run by 32-year-old head chef Rene Redzepi, Noma has taken the coveted top slot with the most votes from an academy of over 800 international critics, journalists and food experts in the awards organized by Restaurant Magazine.
Situated on Copenhagen's dockside in a stylishly converted 18th century shipping warehouse where most dishes are served by the chefs themselves, Noma leads the trend in "cold climate cuisine." Famous for taking seasonal and local ingredients, many of which are unheard of outside of the Nordic region, and creating dishes such as radishes in edible soil that acutely demonstrate nature on a plate, the restaurant has quickly established itself as a place of pilgrimage. Copenhagen is no longer the last stop on the gastronomic subway.
Rarely credited Nordic cuisine scored very well this year with ranking restaurants in Denmark, Sweden and Finland.
After four consecutive years at the top, Ferran Adrià's El Bulli in Montjoi, Spain, took second place this year. To honor the achievement of taking the top spot on five occasions in the last decade, Restaurant Magazine presented Ferran with the first ever "Chef of the Decade" award.
And there is no tiring of Heston Blumethal's The Fat Duck. The U.K. restaurant completes the top three restaurants and confirms Heston Blumenthal's reputation as one of the most exciting and admired chefs in the world. As an additional accolade Heston also takes this year's "Chefs' Choice" award after being nominated by his peers. The Fat Duck is situated at Bray, about 30 miles west of London.
On the British front, Claude Bosi's Mayfair restaurant Hibiscus also represents an exciting new breakthrough to the top 50.
The amount of movement in this year's list demonstrates that this is not a static account of established restaurants but an at-a-glance guide to the best talent in global dining. Consumers may argue about what makes a good restaurant or not, and of course opinions may differ, but this list confirms the wider trends on the global scene and sets the tone for the year ahead.
The United States had the highest number of best restaurants in the world (eight), with France following with six, and Spain and Italy both with five.
Spain did particularly well at the higher end of the list, with four restaurants in the top 10. The United States had a strong showing in the top 10 as well, with three restaurants, including Grant Achatz's Chicago-based restaurant Alinea at number seven.
Alinea was also named Best Restaurant in North America, topping a meteoric rise over just three years on the list. Another American restaurant in the top 10 also enjoyed the highest climb; 33 spaces up the list this year is Daniel Boulud's Daniel Restaurant in New York.
New French talent is firmly on the map with the "rock star" chefs from Paris' Le Chateaubriand, sure to rock the boat by rising 29 places to number 11, making it the highest-placed French restaurant—an indication perhaps that the more casual style of dining has this year captured the attention of chefs and restaurant critics.
More Asian, Australasian, South American and Japanese restaurants are present this year. The French style of cooking still features strongly with the Best Restaurant in South Africa (La Colombe, 12) and the Best Restaurant in Asia (Les Creations de Narisawa, Japan, 24). Quay was named as Best Restaurant in Australasia (27) and D.O.M (18) was named Best Restaurant in South America. Both of these restaurants break away from the classical into the defiantly modern.
Unsurprisingly for those World's 50 Best Restaurants Academy members, Mexico City has had its first entry into the list with Biko. Opened by Basque chefs Bruno Oteiza and Mikel Alonso, dishes like the Foie 100 percent Cotton Candy perfectly demonstrate why they have named their style as "evolution cuisine." Biko has entered the list at 46 this year and could be one to watch in years to come.
Other notable new entries include Aqua in the industrial town of Wolfsburg, Germany (34), De Librije (Netherlands, 37) and Schloss Schauenstein (Switzerland, 30).
Mark Best's Marque in Sydney, the gourmets' secret destination dining room, is named as the restaurant tipped to breakthrough into the top 50 in 2011. Marque so narrowly missed the mark that Restaurant Magazine is confident that of all of the new restaurants ranking 51-100, his is the one best placed to break through on to the list next year.
Finally, one of the most prestigious awards is the annually awarded Lifetime Achievement award, which this year goes to the Austrian chef Eckart Witzigmann, who has built a long and illustrious career in Germany over many years. The first German-speaking chef to hold three Michelin stars, his contribution to the culinary world has been recognized by Restaurant Magazine and the Academy's panel.
The World's 50 Best Restaurants Awards were held at the Guildhall in London on Monday, April 26th, in a ceremony often talked about as the Oscars of the global dining scene.
The Humanitarian organization Action Against Hunger was chosen as the official charity of the World's 50 Best Restaurants.
Below are the top 50, highlights from the list and also some past winners.
50 Best Restaurants in the World, 2010
1. Noma, Denmark
2. El Bulli, Spain
3. The Fat Duck, U.K.
4. El Celler de Can Roca, Spain
5. Mugaritz, Spain
6. Osteria Francescana, Italy
7. Alinea, U.S.
8. Daniel, U.S.
9. Arzak, Spain
10. Per Se, U.S.
11. La Chateaubriand, France
12. La Colombe, South Africa
13. Pierre Gagnaire, France
14. Hotel de Ville, Switzerland
15. Le Bernardin, U.S.
16. L'Astrance, France
17. Hof van Cleve, Belgium
18. D.O.M., Brazil
19. Oud Sluis, Holland
20. Le Calandre, Italy
21. Steirereck, Austria
22. Vendome, Germany
23. Chez Dominique, Finland
24. Les Créations de Narisawa, Japan
25. Mathias Dahlgren, Sweden
26. Momofuku Ssam Bar, U.S.
27. Quay, Australia
28. Iggy's, Singapore
29. L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon, France
30. Schloss Schauenstein, Switzerland
31. Le Quartier Francais, South Africa
32. French Laundry, U.S.
33. Martin Berasategui, Spain
34. Aqua, Germany
35. Combal Zero, Italy
36. Dal Pescatore, Italy
37. De Librije, Netherlands
38. Tetsuya's, Australia
39. Jaan par Andre, Singapore
40. Il Canto, Italy
41. Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athenee, France
42. Oaxen Skärgårdskrog, Sweden
43. St John, U.K.
44. La Maison Troisgros, France
45. wd~50, U.S.
46. Biko, Mexico
47. Die Schwarzwaldstube, Germany
48. Nihonryori RyuGin, Japan
49. Hibiscus, U.K.
50. Eleven Madison Park, U.S.
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
It takes about five hours to make your way through the 25-course Tour menu at Alinea. Achatz was selected best new chef in 2002 and has learned from some of the best—at The Culinary Institute of America, Charlie Trotter's, French Laundry, Trio—but all this schooling and apprenticing has certainly not resulted in traditional cuisine. Achatz's unique style comes through quite clearly with highly refined dishes that sometimes require science lab or industrial products to prepare and always include imagination as an ingredient. His original combinations, such as foie gras with roasted bananas in a chocolate–sweet onion sauce, and watermelon with shrimp, aren't just risky; they're also incredibly delicious. When ordering lobster, the waiter will bring boiling water over rosemary sprigs at the table, so it perfumes the air and adds a new level of complexity to the lobster dish. Unless you have a deep education relative to wine, put yourself in the hands of one of the learned wine stewards. Try their peeled grapes dipped in peanut purée then wrapped in brioche, frogs' legs with spring lettuces and morel or pineapple three-ways with Iranian pistachios. Any multi course you order and everything you will try is deliciously unique.
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 it's 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 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 and 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.
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.
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.
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, 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.
L'ATELIER DE JOEL ROBUCHON
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.
NOTABLE PAST TOP 50 RESTAURANTS
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
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 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—there are just 14 tables. At $213, the seven-course menu prestige is agreat 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 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.
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.
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.
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.
Restaurant 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.