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What's the big deal? One of the most coveted restaurants on the planet, Noma and its founder, René Redzepi, are known for creating New Nordic Cuisine and inspiring an entire generation of chefs the world over. Noma was voted The World’s Best Restaurant in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2014, before it closed in 2016 and moved to a new location in 2018. Now back on top form with a seasonal dining structure, Noma 2.0 is wowing diners again with its endlessly innovative tasting menus.
How does it work? Noma offers three menus at different times of year, with seafood season from January to June, vegetable season during the summer and game and forest in the winter. The restaurant closes before each season so that its R&D team, led by talented head Mette Søberg, can develop new menu items from whatever the land and sea provide.
What to expect: No trip to Noma is ever the same, with Redzepi and team constantly foraging for unexpected ingredients and turning them into beautiful plates. Highlights from previous seasons include a groundbreaking vegetarian celeriac shawarma, a duck dish of leg, brain and heart served with claw, feather and beak, and sweet crab meat served on a flatbread cut into the shape of a crab. Summer 2021 included standout dishes such as fried cod collar with crème fraiche and caviar.
Seasonality personified: Many restaurants align their menu to the changing seasons, but Geranium takes it to the next level. The latest Autumn Universe selection is a case in point, beginning with rich pickings such as Jerusalem artichoke leaves and pickled walnut, and following through into a series of fish and seafood courses, which speak to Chef Rasmus Kofoed’s love for sea-foraging. Squid, melted smoked lard, essence of yeast and potatoes is a true taste of the brackish waters that encapsulate Denmark, while quail with thyme seeds, berries and pickled pine is the only point where meat comes into the 16-course menu.
Food meets art: There are arguably no better chefs in the world than Kofoed at applying beauty to food. He has an intuitive ability to put together truly stunning dishes that make the most of colour, empty space and accurate volume of ingredients, creating synergy between flavour, aestheticism and a sense of flow that runs throughout the menu.
Meet the chef: Rasmus Kofoed is the first chef in Denmark to earn three Michelin stars, which were granted to Geranium in 2016. Kofoed is also the only chef to have ever won the gold, silver and bronze medals at the esteemed global cooking competition the Bocuse d’Or, and his meticulous approach to seasonal Danish cuisine has seen Geranium climb its way up The World’s 50 Best Restaurants list from No.49 in 2012 to No.2 in 2021.
The setting: In the lush foothills of the Spanish Basque Country, Asador Etxebarri has been housed in the same rustic stone building since the 1990s. With sprawling views of mountains and grazing cattle from its terrace (where the welcome snacks are served), the restaurant can claim to be at one with history and nature.
All about fire: Basque chef Victor Arguinzoniz is famous for being able to grill virtually anything and for coaxing out incredible flavours from seemingly simple ingredients. To get more control over the cooking process, he designed Asador Etxebarri’s grills himself – the kitchen features six fully adjustable grills that can be raised and lowered on a pulley system, and he also invented several utensils, such as mesh pans. The restaurant has its own 750-degree ovens in which Arguinzoniz and his team prepare fresh coals daily from carefully chosen woods, such as holm oak for fish and vine trunks for meat.
What's on the menu: The restaurant respects the intrinsic natural flavours of local produce and delicately urges each ingredient to show its potential: house-made chorizo, salted anchovies, buffalo cheese, the freshest prawns from Palamos, tender beef chops. Even the desserts – such as reduced milk ice cream with raspberries – are kissed with at least a suggestion of smoke.
The roots run deep: Chefs Virgilio Martínez and Pía León’s flagship restaurant, Central, is an ode to Peru in all forms. The dishes celebrate the unique landscapes, history and traditions of their homeland by using an abundance of locally sourced produce.
Peruvian pantry: After years of exploration, guided by Mater Iniciativa – the arm that researches Peruvian ingredients, spearheaded by the powerhouse pair and Martínez’ sister Malena – Central’s plates are groaning with incredible biodiversity. The tasting menu features the finest food that land and sea have to offer: scallops, squid and clams come fresh from the coast and the Amazon, while the Sacred Valley offers up pork belly and goat’s neck.
Who’s in the kitchen? Sweethearts of 50 Best, the husband-and-wife team were married just four days after Central’s first appearance on The World’s 50 Best Restaurants list in 2013. Eight years later, Martínez and León have had their fair share of success – with the opening of Mil in the Andes and Kjolle in Lima – and show no signs of slowing down.
Sustainability at its heart: While the menu represents Peruvian ecosystems at their best, the team at Central focus strongly on sustainability. Recycling, composting and closing the loop on waste ingredients all come second nature. Guests are given an insight into this diverse culinary world just by walking to the front door – taking them through a vegetable garden with over 100 plant species.
Why go: Disfrutar – whose name translates as ‘enjoy’ – is one of the most delicious, surprising and boundary-pushing gastronomic experiences in the world. It debuted at No.18 on The World’s 50 Best Restaurants in 2018, picking up the Highest New Entry Award, and has since climbed to No.5 – a testament to the consistently mind-blowing nature of its gastronomic offer, which has been described as ‘a thrilling rapid-fire, roller-coaster ride of a dining experience’.
Who's in the kitchen: Chefs Oriol Castro, Mateu Casañas and Eduard Xatruch all started working at the legendary El Bulli (now a member of the Best of the Best group of restaurants) within a year of each other, between 1996 and 1998. After the restaurant closed in 2011, they joined forces to open Compartir in Cadaqués in Catalonia, Spain, followed by Disfrutar – their most ambitious project – in 2014.
El Bulli’s legacy: Contemporary techniques, daring combinations and the drive to surprise diners are among the features that Castro, Casañas and Xatruch embrace at Disfrutar as they did at El Bulli. Dishes such as panchino (a fluffy bun) stuffed with caviar and sour cream, or multi-spherical pesto with tender pistachios and eel, are designed to ‘please, surprise and excite’. In 2021, the team unveiled a new type of table in their creativity kitchen: during the dining experience it comes to life, showing secret compartments, drawers and delicious bites hidden in its bowels.
Let's talk concept: Frantzén was one of the first global restaurants to create a genuinely immersive setting. Guests arrive in one room and take a tour of the beautiful property being served seriously futuristic and delicious dishes as they meander their way around the multi-storey townhouse.
A word on history: Frantzén began with humble origins as a bijou dining room in Stockholm’s old town, before shutting up shop in 2016 to relocate to larger premises. Set across three storeys of a spruced-up 19th-century building in the Norrmalm district, the restaurant reopened in 2017 and it’s been making steady progress ever since, peaking this year with a position at No.6 in The World’s 50 Best Restaurants list.
Who's cooking? Björn Frantzén started out as a chef in the Swedish army before working at Chez Nico in London, Arpège in Paris and Stockholm’s Edsbacka Krog. He launched Frantzén Lindeberg in 2008.
On the menu: Frantzén’s food is a unique hybrid of Nordic cuisine that marries classic and modern techniques inspired by local and international tradition with Asian notes. Just one menu is available at lunch and dinner and features the likes of scallop, sea urchin, cucumber, coriander and buttermilk; blue lobster, artichoke, lardo, citrus leaves oil and myoga; quail barbecued with green peas, maitake and Japanese mustard; finishing with melon sorbet, champagne and olive oil.
What is Nikkei? Simply put, Nikkei is a combination of Peruvian ingredients defined by Japanese techniques. But the dishes at Mitsuharu Tsumura’s Maido are anything but simple. Embodying this principle has taken Tsumura on a journey, much like the members of the Japanese diaspora (also named Nikkei).
What's on offer: The fusion of Latin American and Eastern cuisines leads to an exciting and unusual menu. The 12-course ‘Nikkei Experience’ degustation is predominantly fish-focussed: dishes such as Paracas scallops with green butter beans and miso feature alongside crab dishi and tapiocas. The beef cheek is also not to be missed, served with tsukemono and a cloud of jora corn. Round off the marathon meal with the surprising and delicate medley of lucuma ice cream, topped with soy sauce and macambo foam.
Chef's story: Tsumura began his love affair with gastronomy at a young age and it was his father who encouraged him to turn his passion into a profession. After graduating in culinary arts in the US, he travelled to Osaka to learn about Japanese heritage and tradition and his time in kitchens around Japan led him to specialise in sushi and Izakaya – Japanese-style tapas. In 2009, Maido was born, combining the culture and flavours of both his backgrounds.
What's the score? Since opening Odette in 2015, Julien Royer has firmly established Odette as a modern classic, one of the very finest restaurants in Asia, and now in the top 10 in the global ranking for the first time. This is primarily down to the French-born chef’s exquisite, refined dishes, using personally sourced produce from specialists in France, Japan and south-east Asia, which has also bagged Odette three Michelin stars.
On the menu: Marukyo uni with prawn tartare, mussel cloud and Kristal caviar sets the unashamedly luxurious tone. While French gastronomy remains at the core of Royer’s cooking, his decade or more in Asia has rubbed off in both ingredients and influences: kampot pepper pigeon with confit leg, liver parfait and black garlic providing a delicious example. Meanwhile the long-time signature rosemary-smoked egg with smoked potato syphon and chorizo continues to wow first-time diners and regulars alike.
Team game: Royer and British operations director Steven Mason have assembled a stellar young team of all the talents, including Malaysian head chef Adam Wan, chef de cuisine Yeo Sheng Xiong and Singaporean pastry chef Louisa Lim, head sommelier Vincent Tan and his Taiwanese rising-star assistant sommelier Lesley Liu, along with French GM Jacque Alvernhe and more. It results in best-in-class hospitality, where every detail is covered but without the stilting formality of more traditional fine dining. The right blend of engagement and professionalism shines through – and the Champagne trolley is not to be passed up.
A new direction: Chef Enrique Olvera founded Pujol back in 2000 with the vision to showcase everything about Mexican gastronomy, from its unique techniques and inimitable spices to the country’s rich history. More than twenty years on, he has achieved his dream: Pujol comes in consistently towards the top of Latin America’s and The World’s 50 Best Restaurants rankings. Jesús Durón has now taken the reins as Pujol’s chef de cuisine, continuing this quest for memorable flavours and culinary excellence.
Dishes of the day: Pujol’s offering boasts a varied seven-course tasting menu that packs an incredible punch. While the selection changes seasonally, the signature Mole Madre, Mole Nuevo – two concentric rings of the traditional Mexican preparation, one of which is aged for 2,500 days – is a stable feature, alongside a steamy dish of baby corn with chicatana ant mayonnaise. The chef’s favourites feature on an omakase menu and include the likes of tostada with kimchi and a Kampachi taco served with avocado and seaweed.
A chic setting: After relocating in 2017, the restaurant’s new home can be found in a leafy, suburban neighbourhood of Mexico City. Its sleek interior is lit by gorgeous natural light that floods through the windows. Guests can sit both inside the dining room and at the outdoor tables on the partly covered, terrazzo-floor patio.
Built on tradition: Get ready to be transported through 2,000 years of Cantonese culinary history through the dining experience. The restaurant’s cooking style is built on tradition: the seafood is sourced by local fishermen, the sauces are created from scratch in the kitchen and The Chairman’s small farm in Sheung Shui is responsible for curing the preserved meats and even the salted eggs. The restaurant’s philosophy, ‘simple cooking will rule’, shines through every dish, creating a culinary experience like no other.
On the menu: While an à la carte option is on offer, it’s best to put your faith in the superb choices of head chef Kwok Keung Tung and opt for the tasting menu. Thought, precision and time are given to each dish, such as the razor clams steamed with mixed herbs and lemons aged for over 10 years. The baby squid and Szechuan pepper and the crispy pork belly sticky rice cakes are testament to Tung’s modern techniques and use of traditional Cantonese ingredients.
Don't miss: The steamed flowery crab. On a menu bursting with myriad flavours and textures, it may be surprising that one dish proliferates above so many others. The crustacean is prepared with aged ShaoXing wine, fragrant chicken oil and succulent flat rice noodles and is often a standout feature on the restaurant’s social media. The Chairman prides itself on sourcing the freshest produce – at dawn, the team can be found most days at the local fish market, handpicking the finest crabs for the dish.
Who's in the kitchen? Chef Zaiyu Hasegawa began cooking at age 18 in the kitchen of a ryotei (exclusive traditional Japanese restaurant) in Tokyo’s Kagurazaka neighbourhood. Eleven years later he opened Den, which moved to its current location in late 2016.
Family history: Hasegawa’s mother was a great inspiration to him at the outset of his culinary career. Working as a geisha in one of Japan’s ryotei, she often brought home Bento for him to taste, sparking his interest in gastronomy and a love of traditional cuisine.
Any house specials? So many – and most of them change with the seasons. Constant points of reference include a starter of snow crab tofu covered in mizore sauce; the signature salad with ant and 20-plus vegetables; and the now-classic Dentucky Fried Chicken – probably the best chicken wings you will ever taste, complete with Japanese sticky rice, chicken ginseng soup and customised fast-food take-out carton. Underpinning everything, the culmination of every meal is the donabe-gohan, claypot-cooked rice with wagyu beef or seafood.
The philosophy: Rather than sticking to the elegant, refined but often impersonal traditions of high-end kaiseki cuisine, Hasegawa offers an elevated, deeply personal take on Japanese home cooking. He draws on diverse influences, both home-grown and gleaned on overseas trips, but always based around prime ingredients from ocean, pasture and forest.
Urban-rural setting: In the centre of Vienna, but seemingly surrounded by nature, the esteemed Steirereck is located riverside in the city’s Stadtpark. The original building hails from 1904 but an uber-contemporary monolithic extension includes mirrored glass walls that magically disappear into the ground in summertime, to make for near al fresco dining. Otherwise, expect a light-filled vision of blonde wood, rough-luxe concrete and crisp white linens.
Austrian food? Unchallenged as its country’s premier dining establishment, Steirereck’s menus showcase rare breeds, unfashionable fish species, near-extinct fruit and vegetable varieties and much more in truly exquisite plates. Highlights might include veal from Pogusch cooked over charcoal and served with braised cabbage and artichokes; sunflower and Jerusalem artichoke with lamb sweetbreads or the signature char fish cooked tableside in beeswax with yellow carrot ‘pollen’ and sour cream. What’s more, pastry is a speciality, and there are more than 25 varieties of bread on offer. While the taste spectrum is international, the dishes are seasonal and deeply Austrian.
The people: Heinz and Birgit Reitbauer are the chef and front of house doyenne respectively. While the restaurant has been in the family for generations, only under the couple’s tenure has it become a byword for cutting-edge cooking rooted in the Styrian countryside. Chef Reitbauer is dedicated to agricultural research as well as cooking, hence the unusual ingredient sourcing. His wife oversees every detail of service, from the mouth-watering wine list to the sprawling cheese offering, with precision and grace. She and her team’s attention to detail, unflappable knowledge and genuine warmth also earn Steirereck the Gin Mare Art of Hospitality Award 2021.
What makes it stand out: All the beef at Don Julio is from grass-fed Aberdeen Angus and Hereford cattle, raised in the countryside outside Buenos Aires. It is stored in a climate-controlled refrigerator for at least 21 days to reach optimum maturity. Then, it’s passed into the hands of Guido Tassi, the charcuterie specialist who heads up the kitchen, and finally onto the plate. Match with beautiful Malbec for the full experience.
Typical dishes: While Don Julio serves pretty much every part of the cow, owner Pablo Rivero recommends ordering house cuts like bife de cuadril (rump steak) and entraña (skirt steak). For a starter, opt for the yellow corn, pumpkin and cheese empanadas and a selection of the artisanal charcuterie such as chorizo, morcilla (blood sausage) and salchica parrillera (spiral sausage).
Trophy cabinet: Rivero, the son and grandson of established livestock producers from Rosario, opened the restaurant in 1999 in his early 20s. Now a respected sommelier as well as one of the city’s highest-profile restaurateurs, he is also known for his exemplary approach to hospitality and won Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurant’s Art of Hospitality Award in 2018. The restaurant also vies for the title of the premier parrilla in Buenos Aires and took home the award for The Best Restaurant in Latin America in December 2020.
What's it all about? Mugaritz is playful, avant garde and highly innovative. It’s a creative dining experience developed by chef Andoni Luis Aduriz aimed to open minds; Aduriz freely admits that not all of his plates are designed to be enjoyed by diners – a gelatinous pork tendon arriving mid-way through the experience is a case in point. Dishes on the 20-to-30-course menu – which change throughout its eight-month season – bear emotive names such as How Long a Kiss Lasts or Depends On How I Look At It.
What's the vibe? Thought-provoking. After a 20-minute drive from San Sebastian to Errenteria, enjoy your first snacks in the garden before moving into the traditional Basque country house, complete with wooden beams and walls, to sample a mind-blowing array of aromas, flavours, textures, temperatures and even sounds.
Typical dishes: Expect the unexpected: Mugaritz is not for the faint-hearted. Drawing from a rich tapestry of Basque ingredients, Aduriz turns them on their head to serve crab upon a frozen tongue, raw pork heart or bellota ham plated on musical dishware that’s perfectly timed so all diners eat and orchestrate together.
What makes it special: Set on the edge of beautiful Lake Garda in northern Italy, Lido 84 is a true destination restaurant, with stunning lakeside views to complement the food and hospitality of brothers Riccardo and Giancarlo Camanini. It debuts on this year’s list at No.15, picking up the Highest New Entry Award 2021, sponsored by Aspire Lifestyles.
On the menu: With one classic and one innovative and creative tasting menu, Lido 84’s dishes showcase the produce of Lake Garda and the region’s verdant pastures. Highlights include the Torta di Rose, a light-as-air cake featuring Garda lemons, and the 400-degree aubergine parmigiana. Without a doubt, the star of the show is the cacio e pepe en vessie, a dish of rigatoni pasta cooked inside a pig’s bladder with pecorino cheese and juices from the bladder, served at the table in theatrical style.
Chef CV: Born in Brescia in northern Italy, Riccardo Camanini went to culinary school for lack of better options and later trained under Raymond Blanc and Jean-Louis Nomicos in the UK and France respectively. He returned to Italy in the late nineties, overseeing the kitchen at Hotel Villa Fiordaliso for 15 years before deciding to open a restaurant with his brother, Giancarlo, who manages the dining room at Lido 84. Within five years of opening, their efforts were rewarded with the One To Watch Award at The World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2019.
In a nutshell: Aitor Arregui’s father Pedro used to say that to buy the best fish, you have to look the animal in the eyes and see that it still retains the brightness that means it is fresh. Today, his son and family run the most prestigious grill in the Basque Country.
Turning back the clock: Pedro Arregui transformed his mother's grocery store into a bar. Next to it, he installed a small street-side grill. One day, a fisherman brought him a huge turbot, which he placed on two grills because it did not fit on one and roasted it whole, without removing the skin. That innovation, like roasting the whole head of the hake – previously used only to make soup – turned Elkano into an establishment that would set new standards of grilling.
Turning point: Arregui’s innovations in the art of grilling triumphed and the house was filled every day. Elkano, which would receive its first Michelin star after Pedro Arregui’s death, is one of the cathedrals of the ingredient where the best chefs on the planet take a pilgrimage.
The experience: Let Aitor Arregui take you to the top of the neighbouring mountain, from where you can see the entire landscape surrounding Getaria, to discover the secrets of the Cantabrian fishermen and the culture that give meaning to Elkano. Then, enter the house and enjoy the ‘Taste of Biscay’ tasting menu, which features kokotxas (cod throats) in four textures – grilled, battered, in green sauce and other spices –, a speciality marinated lobster and the best sea bass you will ever try.
What makes it special: A Casa do Porco (House of the Pig in Portuguese) is a celebration of pork in myriad forms. At a farm in his hometown of São José do Rio Pardo in São Paulo state, Jefferson Rueda rears local pigs on a natural diet of whey and vegetables. After slaughter in his own slaughterhouse, the chef then makes use of every part of the animal in inventive dishes such as pork jowl sushi and homemade blood sausage. The atmosphere is more fun than fine dining, with a main room adorned with miniature pigs, colourful décor and interesting artefacts from the chef’s travels.
The tasting menu: Guests can go for pork-based à la carte or bitesize plates such as pork chin sushi and pork tartar. Those who wait in line should order the Da Roça para o Centro, which represents a culinary tour through the Brazilian countryside, showcasing seasonal vegetables and fruits alongside the succulent pork. For a lighter lunch, the all-new vegetarian menu offers up a host of salads and vegetable canapés.
About the chef: Starting out as a butcher, Rueda made his name at Italian restaurant Pomodoro in São Paulo, before moving on to Attimo, which entered Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants at No.32 in 2013. He gained international experience at El Celler de Can Roca in Girona, and opened A Casa do Porco in 2015.
What to expect: A taste of Piedmont, one of the finest food and wine regions of the world, as seen through the sharply focused culinary lens of Enrico Crippa, now firmly established among Italy’s most creative chefs. Diners can choose from different tasting menus: in 2021, one pays homage to Barolo and the culinary traditions of Piedmont through modernist eyes, while another – called ‘the journey menu Crippa XXI’ – is the most personal outlet of the chef’s own creativity. Both are developed using organic and biodynamic ingredients.
More about the chef: Crippa opened Piazza Duomo in 2005 with the backing of the Ceretto family, themselves pioneers in the region’s winemaking resurgence of recent decades. A quiet and supremely dedicated professional, he trained and worked extensively in Europe and Japan and was mentored by legendary Italian chef Gaultiero Marchesi.
Highlights: The restaurant’s most famous dish is the Salad 21...31...41...51... which incorporates a cornucopia of leaves, herbs and vegetables, the precise number and make-up of which changes according to the season. However, it is the array of one- or two-bite flavour-filled starters – also primarily sourced from Piazza Duomo’s own garden – that linger longest in diners’ memories.
Chef's story: Yoshihiro Narisawa left home at 19 and spent eight years training in some of Europe’s most venerated kitchens, including those of the late Paul Bocuse and Joël Robuchon. In 1996, he returned home to Japan and opened La Napoule in Kanagawa Prefecture. Seven years later, he moved to his current space in Tokyo’s non-touristy district of Minami Aoyama and formed Les Créations de Narisawa. After eight years of service, he renamed the restaurant simply Narisawa.
What's on the plate: Narisawa defines his food as “innovative Satoyama,” the word “Satoyama” representing a border zone between mountain foothills and flat land where people live sustainably with nature. Diners fall under the spell of the season and sample fleeting flavours from provinces around the country. Depending on the season, some might try the enigmatic ‘Bread of the Forest’, a gorgeous wreath of flowers and fruits such as pomegranate, or the delicate aori ika and matsutake – reef squid and specialty mushrooms.
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 from Iwate and aged Bordeaux-style blends from Yamagata. Of course, there’s sake, too.
In a nutshell: A wacky wonderland of a restaurant, Diverxo – styled as DiverXO – is the brainchild of Dabiz Muñoz, known for his daring approach to dishes, and widely considered one of the world’s most creative cooks.
About the chef: As a young child, Muñoz knew exactly what he wanted when he grew up – a wildly popular restaurant where people would queue for hours for a table. His father was sceptical, telling him that ‘pigs might fly’, but Muñoz got the last laugh – after training at top restaurants in London and Madrid, he opened Diverxo in 2007 and soon became the second-youngest person in the world to earn three-star Michelin status, at 33 years old. Now he proudly displays flying pigs throughout the restaurant, showing the world the power of achieving the seemingly unachievable.
Bring on the crazy: With twists and surprises at every turn, having a meal at Diverxo is like stepping inside Muñoz’s limitless imagination. The 12-course tasting menu takes diners through innovative, Asian-inspired dishes such as Iberian pork dumpling filled with Spanish broth and Korean gochujang with grilled cuttlefish and yellow pepper pil-pil, or ‘Galician lobster waking up on the beaches of Goa’, which combines tandoor cooking with sushi rice and a lobster head vindaloo – and looks like a work of art on the plate.
Where have your heard that name before? Chef Ana Roš put Slovenia on the gastronomic map after being voted The World’s Best Female Chef in 2017 and starring in her own episode of Netflix’s cult series, Chef’s Table. Pronounced Hi-sha Franko, the restaurant is located in the stunning surrounds of the Soča Valley and has drawn visitors to Slovenia from all over the world.
About the chef: Roš was destined to be a diplomat, having completed a degree in international diplomatic studies before life brought her to the kitchen of Hiša Franko in the Soča Valley. She taught herself to cook and now specialises in intricately made fresh pasta and dishes that focus on produce from within a few kilometres of Hiša Franko.
On the menu: Roš and her team offer a tasting menu named ‘Reincarnation’ based on seasonal produce, which may start with the restaurant’s cauliflower with black truffle and creamy egg, or beef tongue pastrami, oyster and seaweed crystals. The rest of the menu might include anything from the chef’s pasta filled with apricots in pork broth, to Timur pepper choux with white barley butter and hay praline.
Reasons to visit: A buzzing vibe is combined with exceptional, original food and attentive but chilled out service. Conceived by the inimitable Enrique Olvera, this is the sort of New York restaurant you can travel across the world to enjoy or return to time and again.
Brief history: Olvera opened Cosme in 2014 with a vision to showcase the flavours and textures of Mexican cuisine. Former World’s Best Female Chef Daniela Soto-Innes led the kitchen for nearly seven years, but most recently Gustavo Garnica has taken the reins after rising from sous-chef to chef de cuisine, driving his focus on locally available produce. Since its inception, the restaurant has established itself as one of the hippest in Manhattan.
On the menu: Select from the likes of octopus tostada with chintextle and sorrel or scallops and bass with shasta tangerine aguachile – not forgetting desserts including melt-in-the-mouth chocolate flan with tonka bean and rhubarb tamal with lemongrass. All should be preceded by a mezcal cocktail from the bar at the front of the Flatiron district location.
A legendary chef: One of a handful of cooks who have remained at the top of global fine dining for decades, Alain Passard needs little introduction. He has retained three Michelin stars at Arpège for more than two decades during times of great personal and culinary change, and was the recipient of the Chefs’ Choice Award at The World’s 50 Best Restaurants in 2019.
What's it all about? Vegetables, in short. In 2001, Passard famously announced that Arpège – until then a meat institution – was turning vegetarian, and although meat has since returned to the restaurant in smaller quantities, vegetables still take the main stage. They arrive daily from Passard’s own farms and appear on diners’ plates soon after.
Signature dishes: Despite his ever-changing menu, Passard has managed to amass a number of signature dishes over the years, some so famous that diners book months in advance for the first taste of the autumnal ravioli trio with amber consommé and the vegetable sushi flavoured with bay leaves. To conclude the meal, signature desserts include a mouth-watering apple tart with sugared almonds and drizzled caramel.
What's the appeal? Septime is a super-cool place on a cool street run by cool people, frequented by cool customers. The food is relaxed, packed with flavour and served without pretention. Hyper-sustainable Septime was also the winner of the Sustainable Restaurant Award in 2017.
What's on the menu? One of the biggest charms of this neo-industrial venue is its fair pricing: €60 for five courses and €95 for seven courses. Chef Bertrand Grébaut’s seasonal, modern French plates have been luring in diners from around the world since the cosy restaurant’s opening ten years ago. The food is sophisticated and uses some of the finest producers from around the world but, unlike some of its neighbouring restaurants, doesn’t feel the need to shout about them. The dishes themselves do the talking. Expect inspired plates like grilled green asparagus with pickled wild garlic and black pork bacon, and a gorgeous fig leaves tart with blackcurrant sorbet and purple basil.
Who's running the show? Graphic designer-turned-chef Bertrand Grébaut, formerly of Alain Passard’s iconic three-Michelin star Arpège, helms the kitchen.
What makes it special: With a spectacular 360-degree view of Moscow from its 16th-floor dining room, White Rabbit is the best place in the capital for dining with a view. But it is also the place to come for Vladimir Mukhin’s inventive cuisine using Russian ingredients – think swan liver pâté with torched marshmallow or baked cabbage with caviar.
Who is Vladimir Mukhin? A fifth-generation cook, Mukhin began his career at 12 years old in the kitchen of the restaurant where his father worked. He trained at La Barone in France, El Celler de Can Roca in Spain and Khajimi in Japan, before opening White Rabbit in 2012. In 2017 he founded IKRA, Russia’s first international gastronomy festival, and the same year he starred in Netflix’s hit documentary series Chef’s Table.
About the décor: Opulent, colourful and playful, the main dining room sits under a domed glass roof and features turquoise, yellow and red velvet sofas and cosy curved booths. Guests get their first taste of the Alice in Wonderland theme when they enter the elevator, which is painted to look like the doors to a mysterious room. Weird and wonderful rabbit-themed art adorns the restaurant, including giant Russian dolls, or matryoshka, with white rabbits in their arms.
A family affair: Siblings Massimiliano, Raffaele and Laura are the third generation of chef-entrepreneurs in the Alajmo family. Massimiliano – or Max as he’s widely known – took over Le Calandre’s kitchen from his mother in 1990, one year after Raffaele had started working alongside his father in the dining room. In 1994, the brothers became responsible for the restaurant, which has been voted in 15 editions of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants list.
What's the concept: To dine at Le Calandre is to enter the brothers’ vision of Italian craft and ultra-modern excellence. Over the years, Max and Raf have developed their own line of glassware and tableware, refurbished the dining room to reflect their culinary philosophy, and even launched a series of ingredients from their tried-and-trusted network of producers. Max’s knowledge of Italian produce and seasons is second to none and it is reflected in his deceptively simple but painstakingly curated dishes, many of which have reached cult status.
On the menu: The Alajmos’ Tiramisu in a Pipe is one of Le Calandre’s iconic dishes, as well as the perfectly spherical Almond Mozzarella, an explosion of almond milk and basil on the palate. The chef’s latest signature dish is the Cappuccino Murrina, which marries the colours of Venetian glasswork with layers of surprising flavours. There are three tasting menus available, plus a ‘make your own’ choice of two, three or four courses from the menus.
What's in a name? Quintonil is the name of a green Mexican herb which features in some of the dishes and cocktails, and pretty much sums up this restaurant: fresh, authentic and brimming with flavour. Chef Jorge Vallejo’s menu is based on local produce and showcases the best of Mexico.
What to order: Although there’s an à la carte option, those with time should pick the tasting menu for the true Quintonil experience. From braised oxtail in black recado with almond purée and red onion to atocpan-style mole with organic vegetables and sourdough bread, there’s a taste of many of the things that make Mexican cuisine so unique. Everything is perfectly balanced, with palate cleansers such as crème fraiche with rhubarb and caviar, so that every diner leaves happily satiated rather than uncomfortably stuffed.
About the team: Vallejo worked on cruise ships before moving on to Enrique Olvera’s restaurant, Pujol, then a role as executive chef at Diana restaurant within Mexico City’s St. Regis Hotel. He left for a stint at René Redzepi’s Noma in Copenhagen before opening Quintonil with his wife Alejandra Flores in 2012. Flores and her charismatic team run the front-of-house at Quintonil.
What's the deal? Opened in 2010, Benu is the definition of friendly fine dining. A nuanced menu riffs on transnational culinary traditions including Korean and Cantonese, using local produce and western technique. The result epitomises the melting pot of influence intrinsic to modern American cuisine, while the service – convivial and relaxed – is all-out Californian.
Who's behind it? Korean-born globetrotter, Corey Lee, cut his teeth in the kitchens of Lespinasse, Pied à Terre and Daniel, and completed stages with Marco Pierre White, Guy Savoy and Alain Senderens, before going on to be head chef at Thomas Keller’s The French Laundry.
On the table: Home ferments, big flavours and pretty presentation lead the charge on Lee’s sensory tasting menu. A stalwart dish is the thousand-year-old quail’s egg with ginger and cabbage. Elsewhere, expect dainty mussels with glass noodles and vegetables, and a beef and oyster saengchae with radish and oyster leaf.
And the design? Pared-back and poised. A serene courtyard gives way to a jasmine-clad, ryokan-like façade. Inside is a modern marriage of minimalist Asian and maximalist American aesthetics, featuring an earthy colour palette and gilded accents.
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. His creations include a dish of celeriac, hazelnut and cardamom; oyster and chicory; cold pasta with squid; beef bollito with fennel and wild fennel; and marinated fresh fruit with lemon infusion, caramel coffee and black pepper. In 2020, to celebrate its 20th anniversary, Reale unveiled a menu that looked back on the history of the restaurant through the dishes that marked its journey.
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's the concept: After the success of their original restaurant Twins, identical brothers Ivan and Sergey Berezutskiy had a bigger dream: to be able to supply their own produce. Their farm outside Moscow now turns out up to 70% of the ingredients used at Twins Garden, and leftovers are sent back to feed the animals, making this an almost zero-waste operation.
About the menu: Twins Garden offers two tasting experiences – ‘Rediscover Russia’, serving local products from regions across the nation, and ‘Vegetables’, the greens-led menu dedicated to demonstrating the wide potential of vegetables. Both rely heavily on produce from the farm and often include a journey through the restaurant’s extensive wine room (which houses the largest wine list in Russia, with over 1,000 labels), the laboratory and kitchen for different courses. There is also an à la carte menu serving salads of vegetables delivered from the farm that morning, or pumpkin soup with sea urchin caviar and quail’s egg.
Who are the chefs? Twin brothers, Ivan and Sergey, have been fascinated by gastronomy ever since they could hold knives. After studying together at culinary school, the pair set off on separate paths. Ivan went to Spain, where he worked at El Bulli, and Sergey to USA and the legendary Alinea. When Sergey entered the San Pellegrino Young Chef competition in 2013, Ivan told him that if he won, they should open a restaurant together. He did, so the original Twins was born in 2014, and Twins Garden opened in 2017.
What makes it special: In a two-storey building in an unfashionable district of the German capital, close to the working-class neighbourhood where Tim Raue grew up, the chef serves up a fusion of flavours inspired by Japan, Thailand and China. Raue fell in love with elements of Asian cuisine when travelling as a young man and brought them back to Berlin, where his eponymous restaurant opened in 2010. The restaurant is managed by Tim's business partner Marie-Anne Wild, who specialises in a relaxed but high-level brand of hospitality.
On the menu: Raue’s classics include the chef’s interpretation of Peking Duck as well as ikarimi salmon, tomato and star anise. The current menu includes pikeperch sangohachi, green raddish and sake beurre blanc; and suckling pig, yellow pea and dashi. Diners can choose from à la carte or two tasting menu options.
Healthy outlook: Always ahead of the curve, Raue has long advocated dishes that release energy to the body instead of stressing it, so there are no supplements such as bread, pasta or rice. Refined sugar, dairy products and gluten are also absent.
Why visit: The Clove Club’s interpretation of ‘modern British’ is refreshing and full of surprises, with fresh produce from all over the UK reinvented in creations that put forward natural flavours and playfully mingle with tradition.
A brief history: Scottish chef Isaac McHale founded the restaurant with Daniel Willis and Johnny Smith. The trio used to run an experimental supper club in Shoreditch, East London, before opening The Clove Club in 2013. McHale trained at The Ledbury, Noma and Eleven Madison Park prior to embarking on his own venture, and is now solely in charge of the restaurant.
On the menu: There is a full tasting menu and a shorter version with five courses (also available at lunchtime), as well as a wine pairing option. The menu is everchanging and diners can expect the likes of gently cooked Orkney scallops with potato butter sauce, or mackerel sashimi with heritage cucumbers. As for dessert, you may taste caramel chocolate with speculoos and peated barley, or a caramel ice cream with coffee meringue.
The space: Set within the historic Shoreditch Town Hall, the blue-tiled dining room has a relaxed East London vibe with an open kitchen and laid-back service.
The space: Originally built as a factory for Lipton, Lyle’s is housed in trendy Shoreditch’s Blitz-surviving Tea Building. Décor retains a mixture of utilitarianism – think ash and elm tables or reclaimed British oak and walnut given a new lease of life as wine shelves – and brutalist poured concrete floors. Chef James Lowe was adamant that bums should sit on the Windsor chair, a design classic; Lyle’s is also well equipped in the natural light department, with sunlight streaming in through enormous Crittal windows.
About the chef: After dining two consecutive nights at St. John and The Fat Duck as a 20-something graduate, Lowe was so blown away by the different experiences that he became convinced that he too should run a restaurant. Jacking in his dream of becoming a pilot and after notching up experience with Heston Blumenthal, Fergus Henderson at St. John and a longer stint at The River Café, Lowe then took the pop-up route with chef friends Ben Greeno and Isaac McHale under the ‘Young Turks’ moniker. Seven years ago, he opened up a permanent space in east London’s Shoreditch, aiming to identify British food in this day and age and the rest, as they say, is history.
On the menu: The short and sweet daily menu is micro-seasonal, showcasing what’s best on any given day in London and the UK; the wine list follows suit. Attention to detail starts at origin and working with producers is key: fish is couriered from Cornwall while every week in summer the Lyle’s team drives to the south coast to pick fruit. Lowe’s philosophy sports common sense, with dishes focusing on a particular moment in a particular season: during the shooting season, gamebird or venison is likely to be the main protein – think wild duck breast cooked at a low temperature in a wood oven, served with preserved wild mulberries and red cabbage. Monkfish, Pink Fir potatoes and preserved gooseberries is a true highlight. Lowe also enjoys challenging diners with oft-forgotten products such as mutton, cooked over the grill with beechwood charcoal.
What it’s all about: Consistently ranked in the upper echelons of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants, Burnt Ends is the endlessly popular barbecue joint from Aussie chef Dave Pynt.
On the menu: Built around a four-tonne, two-brick kiln and with custom grills inspired by Basque institution Asador Etxebarri, Burnt Ends is all about simple, top-quality produce cooked on fire. On the menu, you’ll find flatiron steak with burnt onion and bone marrow, Western Australian marron (similar to a langoustine) with tobiko and kombu beurre blanc, and grilled leeks with hazelnut and black truffle. There’s no fuss or fanfare around the food – every morsel has been touched by the flame and the ingredients speak for themselves.
Meet the grill master: Born in Perth, Western Australia, Pynt worked under acclaimed chefs including René Redzepi of Noma of Copenhagen, Tetsuya Wakuda of Waku Ghin in Singapore and Fergus Henderson of St. John in London. It was under Victor Arguinzoniz at Etxebarri in 2010 that he found his passion for cooking with fire and learned to master the flame. In 2012, he opened London pop-up Burnt Endz, and since 2013 he has run Burnt Ends in Singapore’s Chinatown.
If you only eat one thing: Try the Burnt Ends Sanger, a brioche bun filled with juicy pulled pork shoulder, coleslaw and chipotle aioli. Also available for takeaway and via delivery platforms.
Conception to creation: The launch of this restaurant took avant-garde French chef Paul Pairet 16 years to bring to fruition and when it opened in 2012, it was well worth the wait. Pairet’s menus aren’t whipped up lightly; each takes years to conceive. When you experience the intricacies that go into the multi-sensory experience you’ll totally understand why. Sure, there are theatrics and high-tech graphics involved, but it’s clear that food always comes first. The dish marks the point of genesis from which everything surrounding grows.
The menus: Three options are available: UVA (which debuted in 2012); UVB (a classic since 2013); and UVC (birthed in 2016). Each has been recently refreshed and they are on weekly rotations. Whichever version you land upon, expect the unexpected delivered through 20ish courses broken into four acts (and intermission) ranging from DIY BLT (a picnic that allows you to piece together your own special sandwich) to Foie Gras Can’t Quit, crisp fruit skin cigar stub jam-packed with foie gras that sits in an ashtray dotted with black cabbage ‘ash’.
What to expect: Something extraordinary. The adventure begins at Pairet’s other venue Mr & Mrs Bund. Here, diners meet and enjoy cocktails; a first bite, brief explanation and an option to peek at the night’s menu (but who wants to spoil the surprise?). A van with pre-roll video shuttles guests through Shanghai to a secret non-descript location in the city. From there, a large door opens leading into the main room – seemingly bare walls surround a single table with your name illuminated on your seat. What starts out as a stark room transforms in coordination with the meal as sight, sound and smell merge as the dishes arrive, carried by a superbly choreographed service team.
A potted history: A regular presence on the 50 Best list, Hof van Cleve started life as a working farm before Peter Goossens elevated its status to a worldwide gastronomic great. Set in bucolic East Flanders, he has been delighting guests with his refined Belgian cuisine for over 30 years.
Who’s behind it? One of the country’s finest chefs, Goossens earned his stripes in Paris at Le Pré Catelan and Pavillon d’Elysée.
Following the seasons: Local produce is the backbone of the restaurant, which offers a seven-course tasting menu called ‘Freshness of Nature’ plus à la carte, both driven by the seasons. Craftsmanship, creativity and uncompromising attention to detail results in classic, yet interesting flavour combinations balanced out by myriad textures and colours on the plate. Caviar with cauliflower, miso and dashi is a case in point. Fish and shellfish feature heavily, too: think king crab with chermoula, corn and mimolette, or grilled turbot for two, served with lobster béarnaise and bouillabaisse purée.
The dining room: Don't be fooled by the rustic farmhouse exterior; inside is a sleek, elegant space decorated with works of art, furniture and crockery from Belgium’s leading artists and craftsmen. Beautifully tailored waiters provide smooth, personable service, and there’s the added bonus of an outdoor terrace boasting knock-out views for spring and summertime eating.
What makes it special: Led by Kyle and Katina Connaughton, SingleThread is a destination restaurant in Northern Californian wine country that combines chef Kyle’s unique Japanese cuisine with fresh ingredients grown on Katina’s farm. Paying tribute to ancient Japanese ryokans, or inns, the restaurant is an intimate setting where exquisite attention is paid to every detail. The restaurant is set within a luxury boutique hotel where Kyle also serves an unmissable in-room Japanese breakfast.
All about ‘omotenashi’: SingleThread works according to the Japanese concept of going above and beyond to anticipate a guest’s needs, with thoughtful extras such as complimentary charcoal toothbrushes in the hotel rooms, and gold-standard thin-lipped stemware glassware.
How the menu works: Beginning with a first course comprised of myriad small snacks arranged beautifully on a wooden board, the tasting menu at SingleThread then moves through 10 further courses of kaiseki-style dining. Depending on the season, highlights could include black cod ibushi-gin with burnt morels, purple barley crepes and shio koji vinaigrette, or a Sonoma cherry dessert with chocolate, yoghurt and vanilla bean.
About the chef: Rodolfo Guzmán toured restaurants across Europe and Chile, learning new techniques and experimenting with flavours, before settling in Santiago to found Boragó in 2006. Since then, the restaurant has become a haven for Guzmán’s learning and discovery of native Chilean produce.
What to expect: The menu, named ‘Endémica’, showcases the bounty that Chile has to offer. Guzmán takes diners through the regions with dishes such as pink tomato Mariscal served on a pumpkin, duck aged in beeswax and murra and for dessert, a sea strawberry cake and ice brûlée with plants from the Atacama Desert – the arid plateau on the Pacific Coast. It’s an experience for all the senses, but diners are unlikely to get the same one twice, as the menu changes with the seasons.
The inspiration: Boragó is deeply rooted in Mapuche culture. Inspired by the indigenous hunter-gatherers of Southern Chile and Argentina, Guzmán strives to incorporate the autochthonous plants of the nation into the restaurant’s vast pantry. He directs over 200 people, including foraging communities and small producers all over the country, to bring seasonal and fresh goods from plantation to plate. The ingredients come from coastlines, mountain tops, or even the restaurant’s nearby orchard.
Moving house: In 2019, Boragó re-established itself in Vitacura, a suburb of Santiago at the foot of the city’s tallest mountain Cerro Manquehue. The landmark makes both a stunning backdrop for the 54 diners served per service and a home for Guzmán’s food research centre, the CIB, that delves into the untapped possibilities of Chilean ingredients.
What makes it special: Consistently ranked in the top 10 of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants and with a flurry of accolades over recent years, Florilège is the hit restaurant from young Japanese chef Hiroyasu Kawate. It’s an intimate experience set around a 22-seat counter where the chefs cook everything right in front of the guest.
On the menu: With a single multi-course degustation, Florilège works through intricate, French-inspired dishes with Japanese ingredients, such as shiitake mushrooms with cheese, ayu sweet fish with mountain vegetables in a fermented sauce, and a showstopping chocolate omelette dessert served with coffee glaze and Chantilly cream.
Signature dish: Florilège’s most spectacular course is a sustainable beef carpaccio made from cows that are normally discarded – they are re-fattened to create a tender texture and subtle-yet-sophisticated flavour. The beef is served with a consommé from vegetable scraps that would also be wasted, as part of Kawate’s firm commitment to the planet.
What's it all about? Twin brothers Mathias and Thomas Sühring meld flavours, techniques and experiences accumulated in their native Germany as well as the Netherlands, Italy and Thailand, under one modish roof. The result is a sophisticated – and at times playful – seasonal haute cuisine menu with strong German identity.
What's the vibe? Step through the luscious front garden to a 1970s villa renovated by the twins in 2016, a blissful and calming breath of fresh air in Thailand’s energetic capital. Some tables overlook the open kitchen; others enjoy the tropical landscape courtesy of the glass-ceilinged atrium.
Typical dishes: European influence is welcomed in a city known for racy spices, and strong plates on the three-chapter menu include Frankfurter Grüne Soße and smoked eel; a one-bite chicken salad; a currywurst street food tribute served in a box complete with wooden fork; and spaetzle egg noodles topped with Alba truffles, all inciting plenty of German culinary nostalgia.
What’s the story? The culinary narrative of Pavillon Ledoyen, one of Paris’s most prestigious restaurants, goes back to the 1700s. Yannick Alléno’s arrival at the helm in 2014 marked a new chapter, with his extravagant dishes telling a vibrant tale of modern French cuisine.
Who’s behind it? Alléno learned his craft under some of France's greatest chefs, including Gabriel Biscay, Roland Durand and most notably Louis Grondard, before heading up the kitchens of Scribe and Le Meurice.
Menu notes: Technique, originality and an obsession with flavour are the cornerstones here. Dishes draw on global influence, best seen in the twice-fermented almond shells, served with an oscietra caviar jelly and sour cream. Saucing is well-considered, with Alléno reinventing this pillar of gastronomy with playful aplomb in his ‘extractions’ that distil the essence of traditional French mother sauces.
What's it all about? A legendary Lisbon establishment that opened its doors as a men’s club in 1958, Belcanto took on a new life when chef José Avillez took the helm in 2012. Under his culinary navigation, the restaurant earned its first Michelin star that year; a second followed suit just two years later.
What’s the vibe? The intimate restaurant lies under high, vaulted ceilings and minimalist chandeliers, while light streams through the high windows. Belcanto’s new home since 2019 offers its 45 guests two tasting menus and an à la carte option, which take diners on a gastronomic journey of contemporary Portuguese cuisine.
Playing the hits: Standout plates include hake in fig leaf, served with roasted baby leak, barbela wheat crunchy toast and smoked ham. A taste of the seas comes from the springtime scarlet shrimp with shrimp head curry, green apple gel, asparagus and coriander.
Other ventures: A well-known face on Portuguese TV for his cooking show Improbabilicious, Avillez has also published four cookbooks. His food empire harbours a cluster of restaurants in Lisbon and Porto, including Bairro do Avillez, a food hall housing four distinctive eateries under one roof. A wine aficionado, Avillez has developed three vintages under the JA line with Quinta do Monte D’Oiro winery.
In a nutshell: Located in Manhattan’s NoMad neighbourhood, close to Koreatown, Atomix is a 14-seat tasting menu restaurant set around a single U-shaped counter, run by chef Junghyun ‘JP’ Park and his wife Ellia.
On the menu: Fermentation techniques in dishes such as smoked bonito with foie gras, abalone and doenjang, an umami-rich fermented soybean paste. Each dish is served with a beautifully designed individual card translating the name of the dish from Korean and listing its ingredients, origin and meaning.
Meet the Parks: Born and raised in Seoul, JP Park trained in the UK, US, Australia and South Korea at high-profile restaurants including The Ledbury in London, Cutler & Co. in Melbourne and Jungsik Dang in Seoul – it was by chef Jungsik Yim that he was introduced to New Korean Cuisine. While working as chef de cuisine at Jungsik in New York, he led the restaurant to receive its second Michelin star. In 2016, JP opened his first solo project, family-style sharing restaurant Atoboy, with his wife, co-owner and manager Ellia. They opened Atomix together in 2018.
What to order: Le Bernardin offers several tasting menu options. The classic four-course menu is split into three sections – Almost Raw, Barely Touched and Lightly Cooked – with dishes marrying French and global influences, especially those from Asia. Think tuna tartare with sea urchin toast and a drizzled jus; and peached lobster with chanterelle mushrooms and baby turnips.
What’s the vibe: Completely refurbished in 2011, the dining room is a comfortable, modern space with waiters in Nehru-style jackets carefully presiding over the white tablecloth dining room’s well-heeled clientele.
A brief history: Established in Paris nearly 50 years ago by brother and sister Gilbert and Maguy Le Coze, Le Bernardin expanded to New York in 1986. Decorated New York chef Eric Ripert has run the kitchen for more than 20 years, following the untimely passing of Gilbert.
In a nutshell: Describing itself as ‘vocally local’ and ‘Germany’s most political restaurant’, Nobelhart & Schmutzig has been committed to serving only ingredients from the greater Berlin region since it opened in 2015. Owner-sommelier Billy Wagner and chef Micha Schäfer serve up a 10-course dinner with exquisite wine pairing and a side order of fun.
On the menu: With a passion for championing the people behind their food, Nobelhart & Schmutzig lists the name of each producer against each menu item, turning the focus from chef to farmer. There’s no foie gras here – instead you’ll find local chicken with leek and verbena, kohlrabi with buttermilk or raspberry with sour cherry kernel oil.
What’s in the name: The restaurant’s title breaks down into three different words – Noble, reflecting its intentions and uncompromising quality; Hard, because it ‘turns hard in the middle’ and Filthy because of owner Billy Wagner’s naughty sense of fun – and, of course, the extraordinary wine he serves.
No cameras allowed: Wagner and team have a strict no-photos policy, encouraging all guests to disconnect from everyday life and immerse themselves in the dining experience, connecting with the flavours of the region.
What’s the concept? Local celebrity chef Leonor Espinosa’s flagship restaurant showcases little-known Colombian ingredients such as copoazu (a genus of cacao), arrechón (an aphrodisiac drink) and bijao (a banana-like plant), while championing local communities and gastronomic traditions. Since opening Leo she has had a great influence on Colombian cuisine and in 2017 Espinosa won the title of Latin America’s Best Female Chef.
A few words on the chef: An economist and artist by training, Leo’s love of anthropology, contemporary art and culture is evident in both her cooking and the restaurant itself: a bright, modern room adorned with bold lighting.
What’s on the menu? Dinner is split between an eight- or thirteen-course tasting menu, complete with delicate appetisers such as mussels with coconut and Galerazamba salt, or dried shrimp with snails and ants. The latter, although surprising, are crushed to create a crunchy, nutty garnish on the side of the dish. Standout mains include a duck jelly, served with coquindo oil (a rare seed from the Amazon) and salt from the Manuare Salt Flats.
What’s the story: Head chef and co-owner, Esben Holmboe Bang, hails from Denmark but has made Oslo his home for the past 13 years. With a vision to open a restaurant centring around Norwegian produce and organic, clean flavours, Bang opened Maaemo in 2010 and since then, it has become one of the most in-demand destination restaurants in all of Scandinavia.
A culinary journey: Reflecting the name – Maaemo is ancient Norse for “Mother Earth” – the menu is based almost entirely on ingredients sourced from the surrounding region. Some of the seafood, such as the wild salmon cooked in salted butter, comes from the pristine waters of Norway’s northern coast, but most of the produce is grown or foraged in the area immediately around Oslo, focusing on organic and sustainable practices.
What’s on the menu: Maaemo’s comprehensive tasting menu is not without a few favourites: ‘Our Caviar’ is served with white asparagus and hazelnuts, while diners travel from far and wide to get a taste of the king crab with smoked reindeer. The meal is concluded with a heavenly selection of desserts, including the warm cinnamon buns, brown cheese toffee and delightful cloudberry tart.
What makes it special: Perched on a steep hillside in Cow Hollow, San Francisco, Atelier Crenn is a serene escape from the city. Complementing the calm interior and cosy dining room is Dominique Crenn’s elegant cuisine, inspired by her childhood and her artist father.
On the menu: Based on the concept of Poetic Culinaria, Crenn’s tasting menu takes diners through a poetic sequence of stunning dishes that may include a miniature and elegant take on a French onion soup and sustainably sourced abalone with cabbage and smoked mussels. Superb wine pairings and seamless service are led by charming general manager Maxime Larquier, while pastry chef Juan Contreras produces iconic desserts such as the much-photographed Coconut and Pineapple. Everything is balanced so that guests leave satisfied but never uncomfortably full.
A global icon: Not only is Crenn the first female chef in the US to earn three Michelin stars, but she is also an activist for women’s rights and the LGBTQ community. Crenn is a powerhouse in her kitchen and beyond – and now a very deserving winner of the Icon Award 2021.
About the chef: Originally from Versailles, Crenn moved to San Francisco in 1988 and fell in love with the city’s approach to diversity and creative thinking. She made her name at Luce in San Francisco’s Intercontinental Hotel, where she earned her first Michelin star in 2009. More accolades followed: in 2012, she achieved two stars and in 2016, she was voted The World’s Best Female Chef.
Why visit: Azurmendi is more than one of the most beautiful restaurants in Spain. It is more than a business committed to sustainability, more than just striking architecture in the building designed by Naia Eguino, and even more than the way it relates to food. Azurmendi is, above all, the home of a chef who seeks gastronomic excellence through hospitality.
What’s the concept: To visit Azurmendi in the Basque Country is to feel that you are entering Eneko Atxa’s home. The Spanish chef and his team take you by the hand to discover each corner of the marvellous space. At the same time, you enjoy a gastronomic experience in which the flavour and the beauty of each preparation are always linked to the landscape and the culture that shaped it.
What’s on offer? Azurmendi offers a tasting menu for all the senses. Atxa’s kitchen presents a selection of dishes categorised with lyrical names such as the ‘Welcome Picnic’ and ‘The Truffle’s Table’. Standout plates include the grilled roasted red mullet and the smoked salmon roe and nori.
What makes it special: With a heavy focus on sustainability, Kobus van der Merwe’s restaurant in beautiful coastal Paternoster serves a seven-course menu built on local indigenous ingredients in dishes inspired by the surrounding landscape. With only 20 diners per sitting, the restaurant has an intimate atmosphere and, more importantly, maintains sustainability by keeping it small.
Where it’s at: In a building dating back 130 years, Wolfgat is built around an archeologically significant cave that is home to ceramic remains, sheep bones and ostrich eggshells dating back up to 2,000 years. With outdoor and terrace seating looking out onto the ocean in this quiet fishing village, Wolfgat is the perfect place to admire the stunning view and appreciate the provenance of the food, much of which comes from within 10km.
On the menu: The seven-course degustation is an intro to the flavours of West Coast South Africa, with dishes including springbok loin with Saldanha Bay mussels and veldkool, a perennial plant, and sourdough flatbread with wild sage and Wolfgat’s signature butter made with bokkom, a local salted and dried mullet.
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