April saw the culinary equivalent of the Oscars as The World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2076 list was announced at a star-studded ceremony in melbourne, Featuring 23 countries across six continents, including London entry The Clove Club. Feast your eyes on a the list and a few of the signature dishes.
The iconic restaurant where hospitality and cuisine are elevated to art forms
What makes it special: It’s the perfect partnership of outstanding hospitality and exquisite food in an iconic setting in New York City that makes Eleven Madison Park the No.1 in The World’s 50 Best Restaurants. Co-owners Will Guidara and Daniel Humm have put their lives into breaking down the walls between dining room and kitchen, making sure the customer experience is harmonious from start to finish.
About the chef: Swiss-born cook Daniel Humm started working in kitchens at the age of 14 and won his first Michelin star at 24. He became executive chef at Eleven Madison Park in 2006 when the restaurant was still owned by Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group and in 2011 he and Guidara took over ownership. The pair now also oversee the food and beverage spaces at the NoMad hotels and have written several cookbooks together.
Typical dishes: Humm’s signature roasted duck has had many iterations, from the classic honey and lavender version to honey-glazed with turnips and huckleberries. Dishes on the seven-course tasting menu also include celery root cooked in a pig’s bladder, which Humm cites as a career-defining creation.
Reinvention plans: Eleven Madison Park is closing for renovation in June 2017 and will reopen in September with a new kitchen and refurbished dining room. Until June, diners can enjoy an 11-course retrospective tasting menu with classics from the last 11 years. Over the summer months, Humm and Guidara will operate a pop-up restaurant in The Hamptons.
A reinvention of Italian cuisine by a famously passionate chef
What makes it special: Nestled down a cobbled street in peaceful Modena, Osteria Francescana is the gem of Italian gastronomy that rose to the top of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants last year in the hands of talented chef Massimo Bottura. But it could have been very different – in its early days, the restaurant almost closed after conservative locals were resistant to Bottura’s daring approach to cooking.
On the menu: A poet, storyteller and artist as much as a cook, Bottura weaves narratives through his dishes, playing with traditions and experimenting with ingredients from the Emilia-Romagna region from whence he hails. Courses include the famous Five Ages of Parmigiano Reggiano, which takes the diner through the region’s esteemed cheese in different temperatures, textures and tastes, and The Crunchy Part of the Lasagna, Bottura’s reinvention of a corner of the classic Italian dish.
The space: Bottura’s creations are heavily influenced by art and music (in particular, jazz), and the dining space is made up of three elegant rooms that are adorned with high-quality contemporary artwork.
Other projects: A passionate political campaigner, Bottura has stepped up his game by founding the Food for Soul not-for-profit project to fight hunger and food waste, and the last year has seen him speak on the subject at numerous events around the globe. He also owns Franceschetta 58, a more casual contemporary Italian pantry in Modena.
Where the Roca brothers combine technique with taste, experimentation with tranquillity
One of the world’s great dining destinations? Undoubtedly. Twice ranked No.1 in the world, El Celler de Can Roca is located in the medieval city of Girona in Catalunya, northern Spain. A decade ago, the Roca family moved the restaurant just up the road from its original location to its current site – an airy, purpose-built contemporary space complete with a huge kitchen.
What’s on the menu: There are two: the shorter Classics menu of around seven courses (plus snacks) features established favourites such as ‘prawn with vinegar (head juice, crispy prawn legs, prawn velouté)’ and Jordi’s edible perfume desserts; the longer and ever-changing Feast offering comprises 14-plus courses. Highlights might include an opener of onion flower with comté cheese, cuttlefish with sake lees and black rice sauce, and charcoal-grilled lamb consommé.
Rocas on tour: In recent years, the team has closed the restaurant during August to embark on annual tours to South America, Turkey, the US and Hong Kong in order to broaden their collective culinary experiences. Global influences are then fed back into dish development, which in part takes place at their new La Masia (I+R) research and innovation space immediately opposite the restaurant site.
Super-talented Argentine serves the freshest produce in his adopted French paradise
What makes it special: In a stunning location on the French side of the Riviera, just moments from the Italian border, Mirazur is an idyllic spot to enjoy the food of the skilled chef Mauro Colagreco, which takes inspiration from his Argentine-Italian heritage as well as the local French region.
About the chef: Colagreco headed to France in 2001 as a newly qualified chef, working with Bernard Loiseau until his death in 2003. He then worked with 50 Best regulars Alain Passard at Arpège and Alain Ducasse at Hotel Plaza Athénée before spending a year at Le Grand Véfour. In 2006, he established Mirazur, earning his first Michelin star within a year and a second in 2012.
What’s on the menu: With ingredients coming from Colagreco’s own backyard farm and the market of Ventimiglia, diners can expect a feast of flavoursome products from just-picked heirloom vegetables to sparklingly fresh seafood. Courses might include monkfish with topinambur puree and Piedmont hazelnuts, or anchovy fillets on fried anchovy skeletons with juice from Menton’s famous lemons. Colagreco’s signature of oyster with tapioca, shallot cream and pear is a modern classic in the making.
Other projects: Colagreco has been in France for almost 20 years and recently celebrated the 10thanniversary of Mirazur, but back in Argentina he’s making waves with Carne, a hamburger chain. He also owns Grand Coeur, a brasserie and restaurant in Paris.
Latin America’s No.1 restaurant is a tour of Peru’s biodiversity
The draw: In its three years as The Best Restaurant in Latin America, Central has been, well, central to Lima’s transformation into one of the globe’s must-visit dining destinations, while chef Virgilio Martínez has led a new generation of Peruvian cooks.
Chefs’ Choice: Still in his 30s, Martínez has achieved much for his country’s gastronomy in recent years, helping to promote Peruvian cuisine around the world and working with his sister Malena’s research project, Mater Iniciativa, to help discover and educate on local agriculture and ingredients. This year, as recognition for his tireless work, he was voted by his peers to win the Chefs’ Choice Award, sponsored by Estrella Damm.
The menu: Diners can expect a colourful journey through Peruvian cuisine, taking in some better known dishes like ceviche while presenting many exotic fruits, vegetables and herbs that most customers won’t have heard of – let alone be able to pronounce. Courses on the Mater Elevations tasting menu include Spiders on a Rock with mussel, crab and abalone; Marine Soil with razor clams, sweet lemon, pepino and starflower; and Close Fishing, an octopus dish with yuyo, barquilloand squid.
Other projects: Martínez also owns Lima and Lima Floral in London and is working on various new concepts with his wife and head chef Pia León, including a restaurant in Cusco to be run in association with Mater Iniciativa. Martínez also featured in the 2017 Chef’s Table series on Netflix.
A unique rural restaurant where everything on the menu is grilled to perfection
What makes it unique: A combination of skilful barbecuing techniques, the chef himself, the exquisite rural setting, the deeply unpretentious atmosphere of the restaurant and, of course, the food. Oh, the food…
The food first, then? Flavourful in the extreme. Dishes are relatively simple, relying on the quality of the super-fresh ingredients and the masterful grill cooking of chef-owner Victor Arguinzoniz. Some are merely licked by flames, others grilled over fierce heat, but all have a distinctive smokiness imbued by the carefully selected woods over which everything is cooked. The simplest plates – home-made chorizo, salted anchovy on toast, giant Palamos prawns, the legendary beef chop – are also the most outstanding.
And the chef? Victor Arguinzoniz was born and raised in the farming community of Axpe, a tiny village nestled beneath mountains an hour’s drive southeast of Bilbao. When he bought the restaurant building in the centre of the village, he and his family rebuilt it entirely themselves. He is self-taught and has only ever worked in one kitchen – his own – where he designed and built his famous adjustable-height grills. He rarely leaves the restaurant except to tend to his farm animals, which supply many of the raw ingredients for his tasting menu.
A journey through modern Indian cuisine in 25 emojis
What’s behind the hype: There’s a reason why Gaggan has been named No.1 in Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants for three consecutive years and it’s all about reinvention and creativity. Chef Gaggan Anand has consistently transformed his tasting menu, developing conversation-starting dishes like the spherified Yoghurt Explosion and creating a dining experience that reflects the warmth of Thai hospitality in Bangkok.
On the menu: Guests at Gaggan are initially given a list of 25 emojis so that each dish comes as a surprise. After a journey through 'magic' mushrooms, Indian sushi and sea urchin ice cream, they are finally presented with a written list of all the items they’ve consumed – a colourful collection of bites in quick succession over the course of two to three hours.
Gaggan reinvented: Last year saw a large extension of the restaurant with a state-of-the-art R&D kitchen and chef’s table, which is used primarily for pop-ups and collaborations. The glass-walled area overlooks another row of buildings, where Anand is building a series of new restaurants with some of his longstanding chefs from Gaggan.
Peru’s No.1 Nikkei destination in a stylish setting
What it’s all about: Maido, meaning ‘welcome’ in Japanese, is the flagship restaurant of chef Mitsuharu ‘Micha’ Tsumura, serving an inventive tasting menu of Peruvian-Japanese bites alongside à la carte options and a classic sushi counter. In a stylish room decorated with coloured ropes in the formation of the Japanese flag, it’s a popular setting for business dinners and special occasions, as well as for destination diners looking to sample Lima’s best offerings.
About the chef: A Lima-born Peruvian Nikkei, Tsumura was encouraged by his father to turn his passion for cooking into a profession and, after studying culinary arts in the US, he went to Japan to learn about his cultural and culinary heritage. Though he spent many months washing dishes, he learned vital knife skills and eventually how to cook rice and make sushi. He took a job at the Sheraton on returning to Lima and, some years later, opened Maido, which was rose to No.2 in Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants 2016.
On the menu: Maido’s tasting menus are a colourful journey through Nikkei cuisine, with highlights including a fish hotdog, nigari from the catch of the day, dim sum with squid and sea snail cau-cau, and sea urchin rice.
A powerhouse of creativity hidden in the green hinterlands of the Basque country
Who is behind Mugaritz’s magic? Andoni Luis Aduriz, simply known as Andoni, is considered by many observers to be the natural heir to the title of Spain’s most pioneering chef after Ferran Adrià.
How does it play out? A meal takes place over 20 courses – several of them, if the weather is clement, served in the gorgeously appointed gardens around the restaurant. Basque cuisine often combines elements of the mountains and the sea, and so it is at Mugaritz where the menu might roam from oyster and young garlic omelette and pig tails and squid, via a crunchy “sandwich” of local cheese presented in a book, to a loin of lamb smoked over eucalyptus and served with “its cultivated wool”.
What’s the vibe: One of the greatest things about Mugaritz is the sense of play, whether it’s the waiters throwing a curve-ball for the wine lovers at the table with a mystery bottle (a well-aged rosé from Lebanon’s Chateau Musar, perhaps), or the presentation of chocolate petit fours in stacked oak boxes designed to allude to the seven deadly sins.
Contemporary Austrian cooking in an equally ultra-modern setting
What’s it all about: It may, on paper, sound fairly traditional – family owned for generations, with a bias towards Austria’s rural Styrian region – but under the guidance of chef Heinz Reitbauer, Steirereck has become a byword for cutting-edge cooking rooted in the Austrian landscape.
What’s the vibe? Housed in a monolithic glass cube in Vienna’s Stadtpark, Steirereck’s design may be super-modern but the interior speaks a recognisable language of international fine dining. It’s a bright, tranquil vision of wood, concrete and starched white table linen.
Typical dishes: Reitbauer’s signature says everything you need to know about his outlook, being equal parts culinary theatre, precise technique and obvious reverence of local ingredients. The freshwater mountain fish, char, is cooked at the table in hot beeswax before being returned on a plate with yellow carrot, pollen and sour cream.
What else? While the tasting menu is, undoubtedly, the best way to engage with Reitbauer’s vision, it says everything about his relaxed style that you’ll find a Wiener Schnitzel on the menu – one of the things that makes Steirereck so enduringly popular with the lunch crowds.
A field-to-table feast celebrating the fruits of the Hudson Valley
What makes it special: Set inside a beautiful barn on a working farm in upstate New York, Blue Hill at Stone Barns is a destination restaurant. But it’s not just about the stunning setting in Pocantico Hills – what has propelled the restaurant from No.48 to No.11 in The World’s 50 Best Restaurants this year is the simple, delicious, farm-fresh food that is transformed into ground-breaking dishes by talented chef Dan Barber.
An education: With its grounds also housing the Stone Barns educational centre, a trip to Blue Hill is as much about learning as it is about dining. Barber, author of The Third Plate, a book about food ethics, wants diners to understand more about what they eat, so a meal will often involve a trip around the farm and a drip-feed of information about different products and ingredients over the course of a dinner.
On the menu: There is no menu, as such, but instead a procession of 30 or more bites and courses sourced from the fields and pasture at Stone Barns as well as the surrounding farms. The ‘grazing, pecking and rooting’ experience varies according to season and might involve lettuce heads fresh from the farm, beetroot pizza or even face bacon, a crispy skin taken from the pig’s head.
Haute cuisine végétale with grand cru vegetables, fruits and herbs by Alain Passard
Chief reason to visit: Arpège earned three Michelin stars in 1996 and has maintained all three ever since. Chef-owner Alain Passard still cooks at his restaurant almost every day and, despite his success, has not been tempted to open an offshoot.
About the chef: Passard purchased the restaurant L’Archestrate from his mentor, Alain Senderens, in 1986 and renamed it Arpège, a nod to his deep love for music. Over the years, his restaurant has groomed a cadre of prolific French chefs including Pascal Barbot, David Toutain and Bertrand Grébaut. In 2016, Passard won The Diners Club Lifetime Achievement Award at The World’s 50 Best Restaurants.
Fresh approach: In 2001, Passard removed red meat from his menu; the following year, he bought a plot of biodynamic farm in Sarthe and since then has acquired two more plots in Eure and Manche. Produce from one of Passard’s three gardens is delivered to Arpège on a daily basis, arriving just in time for lunch service. These vegetables are famously known to “never see the inside of a refrigerator”.
Ducasse's daring switch to 'natural' fine dining pays off
In a nutshell: Even living legends can move with the times, as shown by Alain Ducasse's decision to completely reinvent his Paris restaurant in 2014. The new approach focuses on healthy, environmentally friendly food with a menu that celebrates fish, vegetables and cereals.
Typical dishes: Sustainable, wild and mostly organic ingredients are at the hallmarks of the menu. Start with a pile of brightly coloured and perfectly cooked vegetables from the Château de Versailles gardens, with which the restaurant has an exclusive agreement, before mains such as scallops and black truffle with cauliflower and Comté in a pastry shell.
A few words on the space: The lavish restaurant interior takes in features such as polished stainless steel ‘shells’ and a stunning chandelier garnished with Swarovski crystal. Look out also for the display of cooking implements including silver from the Christofle Museum, crystal-ware from Saint-Louis and brass from Ducasse’s personal collection.
High-concept, Mediterranean-inspired fine dining in the Lion City
Who’s the chef? Taiwan-born and French-trained chef André Chiang, who speaks French, Japanese, English and Mandarin, charted a high-flying career in Michelin star-decorated restaurants including Pierre Gagnaire, L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon, L’Astrance and Le Jardin des Sens before he set foot in Singapore. Apart from his eponymous restaurant, he is also a co-owner of Bincho and Burnt Ends, both in Singapore, Raw in Taipei and Porte 12 in Paris.
Octaphilosophy – what is it? Chiang’s multi-course cuisine, dubbed Octaphilosophy, is centred around eight elements of gastronomy that inspire him: salt, texture, memory, pure, terroir, south, artisan and unique. Dishes are highly seasonal but a standout would be the “memory” dish of warm foie gras jelly with black truffle coulis.
Book tour: Last year, Chiang launched his book Octaphilosophy, travelling to destinations including Tokyo, Paris, London, New York and Sydney to promote it.
Did you know? Restaurant André closes every time Chiang travels. The chef intends for the restaurant to be like a home where he, the chef, cooks and his wife, Pamela, serves. Advance reservation is, therefore, a must.
Piedmont produce sparkles in creative Italian cooking
In a nutshell: Sourcing local produce is easy for chef Enrico Crippa thanks to his restaurant's location in the food paradise of Piedmont. Fassona beef, hazelnuts, chestnuts, white truffles and biodynamic produce from the chef's own farm are all used in inventive modern Italian dishes.
What's on the menu: Stand-outs include the intricate Salad 21, 31, 41, 51, which references the varying number of seasonal ingredients, while panna cotta Matisse is a colourful mosaic of seasonal fruit and vegetables.
Wine list: The restaurant was set up by a family of wine merchants and producers, so grape lovers are spoiled for choice. There's an exhaustive selection of Piedmont vineyards represented, matched by a superb range from the rest of Italy and further afield.
Chef background: Crippa's CV reads like a 'who's who' of the world's best chefs, with time spent working for Michel Bras in Laguiole and Ferran Adrià at El Bulli in Spain, but it was pioneering Italian chef Gualtiero Marchesi who was arguably his biggest influence.
Rock star chef puts Brazilian gastronomy on the world map
What's it all about? Former punk and DJ Alex Atala ripped up the rule book in true rock 'n' roll style when he set up D.O.M. in 1999, fusing fine dining with wild and wonderful ingredients from the Amazon basin.
Typical dishes: Native ingredients are a hallmark of D.O.M., from jambú, a herb that creates a tingling sensation on the tongue, to Atala's now world-famous use of ants. Highlights include heart-of-palm fettuccine with butter, sage and popcorn powder and milk pudding flavoured with priprioca, an aromatic root previously used in the cosmetics industry.
What's the vibe? High ceilings, slick service and a soothing cream-and-taupe colour scheme make for a pleasantly relaxed space, allowing the vibrant food to take centre stage.
Other ventures: Atala's less formal restaurant Dalva e Dito and bar Riviera, both in São Paulo, were recently joined by Açougue Central (Central Butchery), a restaurant and butcher's shop serving lesser-known cuts of meat, cooked on a huge charcoal grill.
What's in a name? D.O.M. stands for Deo Optimo Maximo, which translates as 'To God, The Good, The Great'. The Benedictine motto was often used to indicate places where weary pilgrims could eat and rest.
New York's shrine to sophisticated seafood
Chief reason to visit: One of the world's premier destinations for seafood lovers, Le Bernardin's menu teems with sparklingly fresh fish and shellfish, used in highly refined dishes.
A brief history: Set up by brother and sister Gilbert and Maguy Le Coze in Paris in 1972, Le Bernardin opened in New York in 1986. The kitchen has been headed up by the revered Eric Ripert for more than 20 years now, following the untimely passing of Gilbert.
What to order: The menu is split into three sections – Almost Raw, Barely Touched and Lightly Cooked – with dishes mixing French and Asian influences. Think poached halibut with Manila clams and wild mushroom casserole or a single barely cooked scallop with brown butter dashi.
What's the vibe: Completely refurbished in 2011, the dining room is a sleek, modern space with waiters in Nehru-style jackets gliding beneath a brooding triptych of stormy seas.
Other ventures: Ripert and Maguy Le Coze also own the casual Aldo Sohm wine bar (named after their wine director) a short walk from Le Bernardin, while Ripert oversees the Ritz-Carlton seafood restaurant Blue in Grand Cayman.
Did you know? Ripert is a practising Buddhist and holds regular benefit dinners for the Tibetan Aid Project, which promotes and protects sacred texts.
Japanese Satoyama and wisdom of the ancestors from chef Yoshihiro Narisawa
Chef’s story: Yoshihiro Narisawa left home at 19 and spent eight years cutting his teeth in some of Europe’s most venerated kitchens, including those of Joël Robuchon and Paul Bocuse. In 1996, he returned home to Japan and opened La Napoule in Kanagawa Prefecture. Seven years later in 2003, he moved to his current venue in Tokyo’s non-touristy district of Minami Aoyama and formed Les Créations de Narisawa. When the restaurant celebrated its eighth anniversary, it was renamed Narisawa.
About the cooking: Narisawa has coined his own style of cuisine: Innovative Satoyama. Since Japanese cities are surrounded by forest and ocean, its people often live hand to hand with nature, taking only the most necessary resources for daily life from the earth.
What to expect on the plate: Almost all ingredients used at Narisawa are Japanese and the chef visits all the producers and liaises directly with them. The menu comprises sustainable ingredients that are faithful to the environment and the seasons, so a dinner at Narisawa is a journey in Japanese seasonality and culture.
And to drink: Narisawa is one of the best places in the world to appreciate the finest of Japanese winemaking, with Pinot Noir from Nagano, Riesling lion from Iwate, aged Bordeaux-style blends from Yamagata and beyond.
An exploration of Scandinavian terroir in an unlikely stadium location
Why visit? Noma may have hogged the headlines but Geranium has given René Redzepi's restaurant a run for its money as the hottest reservation in Copenhagen. Recently awarded three Michelin stars (before it closed in 2017, Noma had two), Rasmus Kofoed's terroir-driven cooking is taking Scandinavian cuisine in exciting new directions.
What's on the menu? The 20-plus course Universe menu changes with the seasons, but expect an exploration of Scandinavia's superb wild and organic produce in delicate and beautifully presented forms. What look like razor clam shells are actually made from dough and coloured with squid ink so they can be eaten whole, while a sliver of salted hake is doused in buttermilk speckled with parsley stems and Finnish 'kaviar'.
How do I get there? Take the lift to the eighth floor of Denmark’s national soccer stadium. The dining room has stunning views of the Fælledparken (Common Gardens) with glimpses of the city's copper roofs.
Who’s behind it: Chef Kofoed cut his teeth at Hotel D’Angleterre in Copenhagen and Scholteshof in Belgium before setting up Geranium with fellow chef turned sommelier Søren Ledet in 2007. Ledet now runs the dining room as well as collating a fascinating wine list.
Mexican cooking maestro puts his own take on local classics at a stylish new site
What makes it special: Celebrity chef-owner Enrique Olvera has taken Mexican food – from street to haute cuisine – and given it his own unique treatment. Using everything from chicatana flying ants to octopus and suckling pig, he brings out all the wonderful flavours of Mexico in fresh and sophisticated ways.
New location: Taking some inspiration from his successful New York restaurant Cosme, Enrique Olvera reopened Pujol at a spacious new venue in 2017. Still within the upscale Polanco district of Mexico City, the new Pujol features a wood-burning oven, terrazzo flooring, a private side room with record player and vinyl collection and a long bar that serves its own taco menu.
How it works: Diners at Pujol are given a daily menu that includes snacks for all, then a choice between items for the next six courses. Highlights include octopus with habanero ink and a chocolate tamal dessert with guayabate and tonka bean.
Must-try dishes: Pujol’s signature is the Mole Madre, Mole Nuevo: a plate with a perfect circle of fresh mole sauce encased in an outer layer of mole that has been aged for more than 1,000 days. The contrasting flavours of the two moles make for a fascinating delve into the magic of Mexican cuisine.
Provocative and progressive dining in the Windy City
What’s it all about? Alinea is not a restaurant, or at least not in the conventional sense. So say its founders, chef Grant Achatz and restaurateur Nick Kokonas. Instead, it continues to push the boundaries of a meal with dishes that are fun, emotional and provocative and blur the lines between art and food.
What’s the vibe? Alinea had a total make-over before its 10-year anniversary in 2016. Originally dark and muted, the restaurant is now more bright and airy, with a number of different rooms showcasing three different menus.
Typical dishes: There’s nothing typical about Alinea’s food, whether it be the green apple helium balloon that floats past your table or the milk chocolate, pate sucree, violet and hazelnut dish served à la Jackson Pollock.
Other ventures: Kokonas and Achatz don’t like to sit still. Their constantly evolving restaurant Next, where the cuisine changes every four months, will even launch a World’s 50 Best menu in late 2017. The team has taken Alinea on the road in the past, having opened it in Madrid for a month in early 2016. It also operates the experimental cocktail bar The Aviary in Chicago.
Worth noting: Alinea uses the Tock booking system, developed by Kokonas himself, so diners need to buy a ‘ticket’ in advance of the meal.
Modern Mexican cooking with an emphasis on greens
The chef: Charismatic young chef Jorge Vallejo is a protégée of Pujol’s Enrique Olvera and has developed a fine reputation in Mexico and overseas. He runs operations with his wife Alejandra Flores, who oversees the discreet dining room.
Urban garden: Vegetables and greens take centre stage at Quintonil (the name refers to a Mexican herb), with plenty picked and served from their nearby garden. Vallejo and his team keep their carbon footprint so low that much of their ingredients travel just 30 metres from origin to plate.
Signature dishes: Highlights include sardines in green sauce with purslane, fennel and guacamole and a stunningly colourful dessert of mamey pannacotta, sweetened corn crumble and mamey seed ice cream.
The setting: Off a smart-looking street in upmarket Polanco, a small, narrow dining room leads into a light, bright open space flanked by walls covered in leaves to give a garden feel. Quintonil’s vibe is relaxed yet elegant, perfect for anything from business meeting to special occasion.
Storybook setting with spectacular views and creative cuisine
A few words on the chef: Chef Vladimir Mukhin is in the vanguard of a new wave of young Russian culinary talents. Known as much for his use of local, seasonal ingredients as for his charisma, Mukhin is making international waves and recently appeared in the 2017 series of Netflix’s Chef’s Table.
Typical dishes: Traditional Russian produce like borodinsky black bread marries luxe ingredients like caviar to create innovative dishes. Standouts include rabbit and mini cabbage rolls in foie gras with potato crisps and truffle juice as well as roast suckling pig and Black Sea oysters.
Down the rabbit hole: As the name may suggest, the restaurant whimsically embraces an Alice In Wonderland theme – think lots of rabbits and rococo furniture… so be sure not to be late for your very important dinner date.
Served with a side of scenic: The restaurant’s glass dome provides diners with a spectacular 360-degree view of the beautiful city of Moscow.
Contemporary cooking with a singular focus on quality ingredients led by Richard Ekkebus
What to expect at Amber: In the storied world of fine dining, Amber stands out not just for its floor-to-ceiling fleet glass window proffering a panorama of the city. Executive chef Richard Ekkebus is a Dutchman who honed his craft with French culinary legends including Alain Passard and Pierre Gagnaire. At Amber he has developed a contemporary cooking style that puts the spotlight on pristine seasonal produce.
More about the chef: Ekkebus looks after the entire front and back of the house at the Landmark Mandarin Oriental, including the bar, banquet and in-room dining. He is also responsible for the culinary direction of Fifty 8 Degrees Grill at Mandarin Oriental Pudong in Shanghai.
Iconic dishes: Ekkebus made the bold move of removing his eight-year-old icon of Hokkaido sea urchin with cauliflower panna cotta, lobster jelly and caviar from the menu last year. But there are plenty of other attractions replacing it on the menu, such as duck foie gras poached in mushroom tea or ebisu oyster coagulated at 70oC.
Albert Adrià channels Willy Wonka’s whimsy in his tapas fun house
What's it all about? There’s no other tapas bar in the world quite like Tickets. In standard Adrià fashion, the eccentric 90-seat restaurant is converted into a culinary amusement park that takes tapas to the cutting edge. Five small-plates bars and open kitchens surround the perimeter of the restaurant, each specialising in different preparation methods.
What’s the vibe? A playful atmosphere meets seriously imaginative tapas bites. The entrance resembles an old-school circus ticket booth, with the sign of the restaurant’s name brightly shining as guests walk inside. The dessert area is like a modern day Candyland with giant berries hanging from the ceiling and pastry chefs constructing incredible sweet creations in front of diners.
Typical dishes: The infamous liquid olive returns. Olive juice from perfectly handpicked olives is transferred into a solid olive through a spherification process with calcium chloride, alginate, and xanthan gum. Other dishes include a world tour of oysters and mollete papada. Think traditional tapas dishes deconstructed with an imaginative lens.
Former supper club with a permanent home and award-winning food
What makes it special: Formerly a supper club hosted in a London flat by owners Daniel Willis, Johnny Smith and chef Isaac McHale, The Clove Club took its permanent site at Shoreditch Town Hall in 2013 and quickly earned a reputation as one of the capital’s hottest restaurants.
On the menu: Scottish chef McHale has devised a five-course and a seven-course tasting menu featuring signature dishes of flamed Cornish mackerel and buttermilk fried chicken and plenty of delights from his homeland, such as haggis doughnuts. Another classic is the warm blood orange dessert with ewe’s milk yoghurt mousse and wild fennel granite.
What’s the vibe? The restaurant interior fits in with its Shoreditch surrounds, with a laidback, casual décor and open kitchen. Willis, Smith and McHale wanted a relaxed atmosphere where customers don’t feel hassled by staff, so they often leave diners to top up their own wine and water and to enjoy each other’s company.
New ventures: In 2016, the trio opened Luca, a multi-roomed restaurant in London’s Clerkenwell neighbourhood serving ‘Britalian’ cuisine – Italian with a British twist.
A journey in British produce guided by imported Australian Brett Graham
The chef: Originally from Australia, Brett Graham started cooking in his Newcastle (NSW) hometown at the age of 15. His early career highlight was a subsequent three year-stint with Liam Tomlin in Banc, Sydney, where he bagged the Josephine Pignolet Award, granting him a trip to the UK. Graham opened The Ledbury in west London when he was just 25.
The cuisine: In the chef’s own words, his cuisine is “based around fabulous British produce where possible, with lots of vegetables and wild English game”. One of his most iconic dishes is flame-grilled mackerel with smoked eel, celtic mustard and shiso.
In his free time: Graham enjoys hunting and gardening and goes for regular walks around Richmond Park in southwest London, which is known for its wild deer.
You may not know that… Graham is set to open a deer park (with a collection of rare white red deer that will form part of the herd) this year. Recently, he has also started using a probiotic technique to produce compost made from 100% kitchen waste. These are given out to customers in 5kg bags to take home for their indoor planting or gardening needs.
Thai cuisine that food dreams are made of
A few words on the chef: With a reputation for research-driven recipes, chef David Thompson is dedicated to understanding Thai ingredients and techniques and evolves them into masterpieces. Hailing from Australia, with training in classical French cuisine, Thompson visited and fell in love with Thailand in the 1980s and his affection hasn’t waned.
Thai one on: Thompson’s cuisine is traditional Thai. A series of amuse bouches begin as an overture for a symphony of spices in the form of curry, relishes, seafood, veggies and meat. Some of the dishes are so spectacularly spicy that the chef jests they could alter your DNA.
What’s the vibe? The décor in the city’s Metropolitan Hotel is on the darker side and understated so that the focus is on the real star of the evening, the food. A low-lit swimming pool just outside the restaurant’s French windows provides a wonderful view and the perfect spot for a night cap.
Other ventures: Thompson started a chain of more accessible Thai restaurants called Long Chim, which now has branches in Singapore, Perth, Sydney and Melbourne.
Worth noting: Thompson was the recipient of the Diners Club Lifetime Achievement Award at Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2016.
Flawless and unpretentious cooking from the first family of Italian cuisine
Who’s behind it: Brothers Massimiliano and Raffaele Alajmo inherited the Paduan restaurant from their parents and have spent the last decade and a half perfecting it to create something very special. Massimiliano’s domain is the kitchen, with older brother Raffaele overseeing Le Calandre’s dining room and heavyweight wine list.
What’s the food like? Though modern in style, Max’s cooking is far from avant garde, so a meal at Le Calandre is refreshingly free of high-concept culinary posturing. Dishes are relatively simple and, above all else, delicious. There are three tasting menus available, one comprised of Le Calandre classics while the other two – ‘Max’ and ‘Raf’ – offer a window into the brothers’ own tastes.
Typical dishes: Must-try plates include the chef’s famed saffron, juniper and liquorice powder risotto as well as the crispy buffalo ricotta and mozzarella cannelloni with tomato sauce. Newer dishes include seared turbot with yellow potato purée, cardamom carrot juice and black olive powder.
Other ventures: The Alajmo brothers have amassed an impressive culinary empire that includes several restaurants in Padua, one in Paris and the reassuringly expensive Quadri in Venice, which offers stunning views over Piazza San Marco.
Elegant Spanish cuisine from a local and international cooking legend
What makes it special: The restaurant situated at the top of a hill in San Sebastian has been in the Arzak family for generations, but it was charismatic Juan Mari who revived the menu to make it what it is today. Now 74 years old, the venerable chef still oversees the kitchen while his talented daughter Elena runs daily operations.
Restaurant interior: The restaurant has several different dining rooms, including a light-filled downstairs room, which is formal yet relaxed. New diners and returning regulars receive the warmest welcome as Juan Mari roams the room to socialise with his guests.
The food: Arzak’s extensive offering includes multiple tasting menus and an à la carte, with specialties such as the Red Space Egg with a skin of red peppers, pig trotters and mushrooms, and seabass served on top of a tablet computer with moving images of the sea. A special feature of many of the dishes is the crunchy element – dishes such as Big Chocolate Truffle with candyfloss, carob, cacao and chocolate have a range of textures, including the signature crunch.
To drink: Arzak boasts an enormous wine cellar with over 100,000 bottles.
Star chef restores historic restaurant to greatness
What makes it so special? One of Paris's oldest and most prestigious restaurants, Pavillon Ledoyen was given a new lease of life when Yannick Alléno took the helm in 2014 and introduced boundary-pushing modern French cuisine. The restaurant is this year’s Highest New Entry, sponsored by Aspire Lifestyles.
Typical dishes: Alléno's originality, technique and obsession with flavour are evident in hot sea urchin soup, served in a burned grapefruit shell and accompanied by crispy duck skin topped with foie gras, plus iodized granita. It's followed by a celebration of milk-fed lamb comprising leg tartare with quince and black truffle, saddle with pickles, and cutlet and collar with a sage fritter.
Some background: Legend has it that Napoleon met Josephine at the Ledoyen, which which first opened in 1791. Other regulars included Robespierre, Degas and Zola.
About the chef: Alléno learned his craft under some of France's greatest chefs, including Gabriel Biscay, Roland Durand and most notably Louis Grondard, before earning star status heading up the kitchens of Scribe and Le Meurice.
Emotion and experience underpin a uniquely Australian adventure
How much Australian wildlife will I eat? Quite a bit, as it happens. Lamb, chicken, pork and beef haven’t made major appearances on the Attica menu for some time now, but those interested in the macropod family will be pleased to see not just wallaby blood in the pikelets (think a sort of tea-time version of blini) but also salted raw red kangaroo with native bunya bunya nuts and purple carrot in the signature dish. Emu has been known to put in an appearance and marron, the large, sweet native crayfish, is a mainstay.
And to drink? It’s no less an adventure in the glass, with pairings hopping from Tasmanian sour beer to serious skin-contact from South Australia to unpasteurised sake and back again.
What about Australian culture? References to Aussie culture and history are threaded throughout Attica’s menus, some of them more subtly than others, whether it’s in the form of “Gazza’s Vegemite pie,” wattleseed bread, halftime oranges or the Anzac marshmallow that closes proceedings.
Did you know? Ben Shewry, the humble but brilliant chef behind Attica, actually hails from New Zealand originally.
Contemporary Peruvian cuisine that honours ancestry and tradition
What's it all about? Gastón Acurio, the architect and cheerleader of the Peruvian culinary movement, came back from retirement to lead the kitchen at Astrid y Gastón, taking over from departing head chef Diego Muñoz. The pioneering restaurant, named after him and his wife Astrid Gutsche, is responsible for helping to transform contemporary Peruvian cuisine to what it is today.
What’s the vibe? Astrid y Gastón moved in 2014 to Casa Moreyra, a magnificent San Isidro hacienda with over 300 years of history. The grand mansion is remarkable; including the elegant yet minimally decorated restaurant, a first-class bar, herb garden, patio, three kitchens and various salons for private events.
Typical dishes: Tiradito of Love and Cebiche from the Andes.
Other ventures: Acurio’s empire extends across the globe with more than 40 restaurants. His primary mission is to promote Peruvian cuisine, ingredients, history, and heritage around the world.
Charismatic couple who beat the drum for modern Dutch food in former prison
What makes it stand out: The menu at this influential Dutch restaurant is tailored to suit individual diners' specific tastes. Guests pick four dishes from different colour-coded sections before further plates are added to create a bespoke five-, six- or seven-course menu for each person.
What else? Jonnie and Thérèse Boer have helped shape modern Dutch cuisine over a 20-year career, combining fabulous local food with cutting-edge techniques and idiosyncratic ideas
Typical dishes: Start with a beef tartare and oyster canapé assembled directly on the back of your hand, followed by a dainty dish of foie gras, brown crab and red cabbage. Dry-aged dairy beef is then seared on hot rocks at the table and served with smoked eel and braised lemon.
What of the dining space: Located in an 18th century former prison, the main dining area is in the courtyard, covered by an impressive glass and steel roof.
Did you know? The Boers are passionate campaigners against food waste, highlighting the issue at their biennial Chefs Revolution festival by serving burgers and hotdogs with meat that would normally have been discarded.
Hot food and a cool scene add up to one of Paris’s most talked-about addresses
What’s the appeal? This is a cool space in a cool street run by cool people with lots of cool customers. It also just happens to be the winner of this year’s Sustainable Restaurant Award, sponsored by Silestone.
But what of the food? Dip a fork into the menu on any given day and you’ll quickly discover that the food more than holds its own. Turbot is paired with Brussels sprouts, bacon and a sauce of mushrooms from Paris. The texture of new-season white asparagus is played off against oysters, hazelnuts and clotted cream. Oh, and there’s a sorbet of cheese flavoured with bay and teamed with an apple and pear purée.
What of the chef: Owner-chef Bertrand Grebaut is far from the only boldface-named Paris chef to graduate from the kitchens of Alain Passard’s landmark restaurant Arpège, but in a few short years he has quickly come to be recognised among such luminaries as L’Astrance’s Pascal Barbot as the future of French cooking.
What else: Grebaut and his team have colonised the neighbourhood with well-pitched brand extensions: the seafood-focused Clamato (possibly the best bet for the ever-tricky Saturday lunch slot in Paris) and the tiny, brilliant wine bar Septime La Cave.
A space-age history lesson from Britain’s gastronaut-in-chief
What’s it all about? In a nutshell, history. Where The Fat Duck, Heston Blumenthal’s flagship eatery, is all about playing with emotion, expectation and memory, his London fine-diner run by chef Ashley Palmer-Watts mines a surprisingly rich vein of British culinary history for its inspiration.
Boiled beef and cold toast? Far from it. Delving into dishes recorded as far back as the court of Henry VIII, the menu is anything but bland. Roast cod and smoked beetroot flavour a 16th-century savoury porridge; spiced celeriac sauce and oyster leaf accompany chicken cooked with lettuces (circa 1670); a pineapple, slowly roasted to caramel acquiescence on a spit, forms the centrepiece of a 17th-century tipsy cake.
And what of the famed ‘meat fruit’? A showstopper of a starter, it comprises an orb of chicken liver parfait refashioned to perfectly resemble a mandarin.
And now it’s Down Under too? The Fat Duck moved its entire operation to Australia for a temporary residency in 2015, and when it concluded, the space at Melbourne’s Crown Entertainment Complex was transformed into a new Dinner by Heston Blumenthal – the chef’s first permanent restaurant outside the UK. The antipodean version of Dinner is faithful to the menu of the London original, but with some local twists: kangaroo in the Rice and Flesh, for instance, and the addition of a lamington (the favourite Australasian pastry) to the dessert menu.
Casual luxury with a daily-changing menu showcasing imagination and skill
Tell us a story: What started as a weekly pop-up in the back of a café seven years ago has evolved into one of the most exclusive restaurants in the world. No expense is spared at Saison, where chef Joshua Skenes’ immaculate attention to detail permeates all aspects of the operation.
On the menu: The nightly changing tasting menu of up to 18 courses not only showcases the highest-quality produce but is guided by what is best on that very day, giving a whole new meaning to seasonality. Dishes may feature Skenes’ infamous ‘Liquid Toast,’ a glazed sea urchin served on crusty bread soaked in a rich sauce of grilled bread and dusted with a powder of river vegetables; or barbecued celeriac, which is slow-cooked in the fireplace for three days.
The design: The impressive open-plan restaurant combines stark industrial elements with soft organic furnishings in a room where exposed brick meets Scandinavian faux fur. At the centre is a barrier-free kitchen where chefs busy themselves in between visiting every table to present and explain each dish.
What’s the vibe? Casual luxury. There’s no dress code at Saison, where a soundtrack of 1980s or 1990s rock classics plays in the background. Waiters effortlessly perfect relaxed-yet-faultless service to make guests feel at home.
Innovative cuisine in stunning surrounds with sustainability at the heart
Unique selling point: Far from the straightforward sit-down restaurant experience, at Azurmendi the journey starts in the rooftop vegetable garden where guests inspect the home-grown produce before continuing via the kitchen to an indoor greenhouse for a selection of ‘snacks’. Diners are eventually seated in a section of the dining room, flanked by temporary fabric walls projecting different scenes for different courses.
The chef: Basque cook Eneko Atxa was brought up with the kitchen at the heart of his home and says he’s committed to giving guests the same homely experience. Azurmendi is a family business that also houses a winery run by his cousin, Bertol Izagirre, specialising in Basque txakoli wine.
New ventures: The chef opened Eneko at One Aldwych, a more relaxed version of Azurmendi, in London in 2016.
On the menu: Highlights include Truffled egg, which is ‘cooked inside out’, with part of the yolk removed and replaced with truffle consommé, while Edible Cotton is a classic snack that guests eat in the greenhouse.
Bonus point: Azurmendi won The Sustainable Restaurant Award in 2014. Not only is the restaurant made with environmentally friendly materials, it also recycles its own waste, harvests rainfall and cools itself using geothermal energy.
Noma alumni take flexible approach to New Nordic cooking
In a nutshell: Set up by two former Noma acolytes, this cool Copenhagen restaurant has won critical acclaim for its no-nonsense approach to fine dining. Deceptively simple dishes that maximise the flavour of just a few ingredients are served in a stripped back dining room by a young, friendly team.
On the menu: Choose between four or seven courses, with vegetables put centre stage in dishes such as Jerusalem artichoke mousse with passionfruit and coffee or fried salsify with salsify purée and bergamot. The pure flavours of pickled mackerel, cauliflower and lemon purée should not be missed.
A word on the owners: Chef Christian Puglisi and front-of-house head Kim Rossen set up Relæ in 2010 after meeting at Noma. The influence of René Redzepi's restaurant is clear, but Puglisi is not constrained by New Nordic principles, using ingredients from Italy and further afield.
The room: It's a down-to-earth space with diners encouraged to help themselves to cutlery from drawers in the simple wooden tables and to pour their own (natural and biodynamic) wine.
Other ventures: The pair also run laid-back wine bar Manfreds, which has recently been joined by an Italian charcuterie and pizza restaurant called Bæst and coffee-bar-cum-bakery, Mirabelle.
The modern Mexican haunt that has captivated Manhattan
What makes it special: The first foray outside Mexico for chef Enrique Olvera, Cosme was a hit with New Yorkers from the moment it opened in 2014. A combination of stunningly plated modern Mexican dishes and a stylish interior with a long bar serving a variety of mezcals have made it a mainstay of Manhattan’s dining scene.
About the chef: After opening Cosme with his business partners Santiago Gomez and Santiago Perez, Olvera, chef-owner of Pujol in Mexico City, picked 26-year-old Daniela Soto-Innes as his chef de cuisine. Named Rising Star of 2016 by the James Beard Foundation, Soto-Innes has impressed critics and diners with her unique cuisine that blends traditional Mexican dishes with local ingredients and recipes from her upbringing in Texas.
On the menu: Open for brunch, lunch and dinner, Cosme has a range of à la carte menus serving everything from classic huevos rancheros to uni tostadas and sliced raw fish with avocado and black lime. Soto-Innes’s signature dish is the duck carnitas – a sharing skillet of shredded duck with onions, radishes, cilantro and freshly pressed tortillas.
Bonus point: Former President Barack Obama dined at Cosme before the end of his term in September 2016.
Paul Pairet’s post-modern work of genius somewhere in Shanghai
What’s the story: Founded in 2012, Ultraviolet by Paul Pairet is considered by many to be the most avant-garde restaurant experience in the world. Just 10 guests per night experience the ultimate in immersive dining in a secret city location, courtesy of the inimitable French chef-provocateur.
How it works: The high-tech gastronomic production utilises video, audio, bespoke lighting and scents – as well as the dishes and drinks themselves, of course – to stimulate the senses. Service is theatrical, but still light and personable.
On the menu: The original ‘UVA’ and subsequent ‘UVB’ and ‘UVC’ menus now rotate. All are original and witty, with dishes that crack jokes, challenge expectations and trick the eye: Tomato Mozza And Again, for example, is a clever duo of dishes – one savoury, one sweet – which appear to be identical but taste strikingly different, thereby playing with misperceptions of taste. On top of that, they also taste extremely good.
What’s the room like? Having been transported to the unmarked entrance, guests enter a cocoon-like dining space with a single spot-lit table, at which everyone eats together. The room then transforms itself throughout the evening; at one point the walls even slide back to reveal the kitchen at one end, along with the becapped Chef Pairet himself.
Touch the wild in this visionary taste of the (very) deep south
Bora-what? Boragó is the Spanish word for borage: owner-chef Rodolfo Guzman’s interest lies as much in the pastures and woods as much as it does the markets and kitchen.
A forager, then? Perhaps the pre-eminent forager in Chile, in fact. The location of the Chilean capital offers chef Guzmán a highly diverse range of landscapes to hunt for unique ingredients, whether it be wandering the salt flats of the world’s highest desert, the Atacama, looking for native herbs or dodging waves and scrambling around the shoreline plucking sea asparagus from the briny rocks.
What’s his background? Working at Mugaritz in the Basque country was a revelation for Guzmán, who returned to Chile determined to open a restaurant that didn’t ape what was going on in Europe. Instead, it would turn to local traditions and ingredients, whether they be the indigenous seafood found off the nation’s vast coast, or the ancient culinary culture of the Mapuche people.
What about the food itself: Happily, these ingredients aren’t simply rare, they’re also very tasty, especially in Guzman’s hands. Get a load of conger eel with the sweet-onion taste of sea star flowers and beach dill, or the milk of cows, goats and donkeys in a radical take on the classic tres leches dessert.
Explore the complexities of flavour in the Abruzzo hills
Why go? Reale is a truly original restaurant and not just because it's housed in a 16th century monastery with rooms in the mountains of Abruzzo. Niko Romito's cooking philosophy is unique, using innovative techniques to enhance the intrinsic flavours of often unfashionable ingredients from the region.
More on the food: “Complexity, but not complicated,” is how the chef describes his deceptively simple dishes. 'Absolute onion,' for example, is an intense roasted onion and saffron broth accompanied by pasta 'buttons' filled with cream and cheese. Another recent creation involves roasting savoy cabbage and ripening it for weeks in foil, before serving slices with a cabbage sauce made with star anise distillate on a potato emulsion.
The chef: Romito studied economics and wanted to work in finance, but changed direction in 2000, setting up Reale in the family bakery with his sister Cristiana, who oversees the front of house operation.
What else? The former Casadonna monastery and different culinary laboratories for researching techniques in baking, fermentation and pressure cooking. It is also the base for the Niko Romito Formazione – a certified higher education cookery school.
Did you know? Romito pioneered a radical project to improve the quality and nutrition of hospital food in Italy.
Exploring sense of place in rural Australia with tools honed in the Basque country
So this is Mugaritz down under? Not exactly, but then there is something undeniably fascinating about discovering an acolyte of the great Andoni Luis Aduriz practicing his arcane art in a place like Birregurra (population 688), a country town 90 minutes from Melbourne where sheep outnumber people, and the presence of a railway station and a post office loom large among the highlights on its Wikipedia profile.
About the chef: Owner and cook Dan Hunter may have started at Mugaritz as a mere stagiaire, but when he left, in 2006, he was chef de cuisine. At Brae he pays his mentor the compliment of not reproducing his dishes, choosing instead to apply a Mugaritz-like philosophy to cooking with the produce from the surrounding countryside, using it as a way to observe both the landscape and the moment.
What does that mean in terms of things to eat and drink? Good things. Very good things. Hunter has an almost Basque passion for wild things and unusual plants, which are showcased in the likes of his iced oyster (a beautifully textured oyster ice-cream dressed with powdered sea lettuce) and wild mushrooms with milk curd, made all the more lavish with the addition of chicken livers and a warm chicken broth. But he’s not blind to his region’s agrarian traditions by any stretch: witness his studies of local sheep farming, rendered in dishes examining the qualities of dry-aged jumbuck (a term Hunter chooses to use for sheep slaughtered at four or five years), paired with raw flathead and dandelion, say, or barbecued lettuce and beans.
Innovative Japanese cuisine served with humour and humility
Who, what and why: Chef Zaiyu Hasegawa pushes the potential of Japanese dining well beyond the boundaries of Kyoto’s centuries-old traditions. While his roots are embedded in classical kaisekicuisine, he deftly incorporates influences from around the world, presenting his dishes with playfulness and humour.
A new chapter: After close to a decade at his iconic Jimbocho premises, in late 2016 Hasegawa moved Den across Tokyo to the upmarket Jingumae district. The change of address also marked a shift in focus, away from the old kappo-style counter seating to a more open-plan layout, intended to encourage greater dialogue with the open kitchen and communication between customers.
On the plate: Den’s omakase tasting menu is likely to open with the signature appetiser, a monaka pastry stuffed with foie gras, and then segues through eight courses of seafood, meat and even turtle dishes. Current highlights include a superlative 20-ingredient salad, mostly sourced from the garden of the chef’s sister, and his now-trademark reinterpretation of fast-food chicken wings. Ever creative, Hasegawa always keeps some surprises up his sleeve.
Omotenashi: The front-of-house team, led by Hasegawa’s wife Emi, embraces the traditional Japanese philosophy of welcoming every diner with warmth and making them feel part of the Den family. It is this approach that helped the restaurant earn The Ferrari Trento Art of Hospitality Award for Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2017.
Passard protégée takes haute cuisine in new direction
In a few lines: Pascal Barbot spent five years working under Alain Passard at L’Arpège in Paris, but his CV also includes stints cooking in the South Pacific with the French navy and heading up Sydney restaurant Ampersand. His globe-trotting experiences are fully expressed at his small but chic restaurant, which combines modern French cuisine with influences from the Far East.
The food: Cream, butter and sauces are used in moderation with dishes instead accented with exotic flavours, such as verjus, miso and Chinese dates. A pastel pink slice of tuna is offset by vivid vegetables and flower petals, plus an almond milk and bergamot coulis, while miso-marinated mackerel is studded with toasted buckwheat and served with baby leeks.
The wine: Restaurant manager and co-owner Christophe Rohat, who worked with Barbot at L’Arpège, is a wine enthusiast, collaborating closely with head sommelier Alejandro Chavarro to source natural, organic and biodynamic wines from across France.
How to get a table: With difficulty. There are 25 covers in the sleek grey and mustard dining room and reservations are only taken over the phone. Book several months in advance.
Avant-garde chef pushes boundaries of German cooking
What makes it stand out? At the vanguard of the new German school of cooking, Joachim Wissler re-imagines his country’s cuisine using international ingredients and techniques.
Stand-out dishes: Regional favourites and forgotten ingredients are reinvented in dishes such as goose liver snowball with truffle foam and tamarillo or supreme of pork braised with lovage. Asian and French influences are also a feature, as demonstrated by Coquilles Saint Jacques accompanied by pickled cucumber, wasabi-avocado purée and shiso dashi.
Where is it? Named after a square in Paris, Vendôme is housed in a stately manor house, part of the magnificent 18th century Schloss Bensberg hotel. Gorgeous views of Cologne and its famous cathedral add to the grandiose setting.
What's the vibe: No exposed brickwork or bare-wood tables here. The dining room is a seriously luxurious space with an elegant cream-and-olive colour scheme and immaculate white tablecloths. Service is seamless.
What else? The wine list is as eclectic as Wissler's cooking with nearly a thousand bottles, including a huge selection from Germany and France, but also Spain, Latin America, the US, Japan and Greece.
Creative fusion cuisine that doesn’t shy away from bold Asian flavours
Tell us a story: Tim Raue wanted to be an architect but didn’t have any money to study. He chose to enter the kitchen because it was the most creative option available to him at the time, working for several high-profile hotels before opening his eponymous restaurant in 2010. His wife Marie-Anne is the restaurant’s maître d' and sommelier.
What’s on the menu? Interesting fusion cooking that’s careful not to dumb down flavours. Raue is fascinated with Asian cuisine and regularly jets off to the continent to further expand his knowledge. His approach sees Asian and Western ingredients and techniques collide, often in spectacular fashion.
Other ventures: Raue’s culinary range is a lot wider than most chefs cooking at his level. Alongside his flagship he runs two other buzzy Berlin restaurants. The brilliantly titled La Soupe Populaire serves homely German dishes and Sra Bua at the Hotel Adlon Kempinski offers pan-Asian cuisine in glamorous surroundings.
Bonus point: In 2013, Raue cooked a dinner for Barack Obama and Angela Merkel plus a number of other highly distinguished guests. The brief was traditional – the menu included white asparagus with cod as well as veal meatballs – but Raue also managed to sneak in a few Asian touches, including a little dashi.
Contemporary cuisine exploring the length and breadth of Argentina
What’s it all about? Placing No.83 then No.68 in the past two editions, Germán Martitiegui’s cutting-edge restaurant in Buenos Aires finally steps up to the plate to rank in The World’s 50 Best Restaurants, the first Argentine establishment to feature since Francis Mallmann’s 1884 in 2002.
What diners can expect: Opening in 2009 with a minimalist three entrée, main and dessert menu, Martitegui has produced the winning combination of a monthly eight-step tasting menu for the past three years. In a bid to create a legitimate Argentine cuisine, he looks to all corners of the country for influences, which includes techniques as well as products.
A few highlights: Both Patagonia and Argentina’s obsession with fire are the inspiration behind ostra a la parrilla, a flame-grilled oyster teamed with sea foam. For chivito, meanwhile, Martitegui turns his compass to the Andean northwest for slow-cooked kid fused with medicinal herbs such as pupusa grass, muña muña and chuño (dried potatoes).
The dining room: After years of shared projects, Tegui was Martitegui’s first solo endeavour so he was keen to make his design mark, even selling his car to purchase the oven he wanted. Black floorboards contrast with the gleaming white open-plan kitchen, the patio is a lush urban jungle and the sommeliers even play their part, ‘flying’ through the wine cellar.
Godfather of Belgian cuisine goes from strength to strength
In a nutshell: Peter Goossens' stated mission is to put a smile on the faces of visitors to his beautiful farmhouse in the fields of Flanders. It's a goal he has achieved with great success over 30 happy years spreading the joys of Belgian cuisine.
On the menu: Local produce is the backbone of the menu, but it’s not limited by nationality, with ingredients from further afield integrated seamlessly into dishes that balance tradition and modernity. Witness scallops from Saint-Brieuc in France combined with witlof (Belgian chicory), salsify and Jerusalem artichoke or native oysters from nearby Lake Grevelingen with bergamot, cucumber and smoked eel.
A few words on the space: Don't be fooled by the rustic exterior. Inside is a sleek, elegant space with dining rooms decorated with works of art, furniture and crockery from Belgium’s leading painters and craftsmen. The service is smooth and personable thanks to Goossens’ wife Lieve, who oversees the front-of-house.
The chef: Peter Goossens cut his teeth in Paris at Pré Catelan and Pavillon d’Elysée, before taking over Hof van Cleve in 1987.
Don't miss: The epic cheese and dessert trolleys that glide between the tables.