When it comes to food and restaurants it is hard to make an argument for what and which is the best. In other words a list like this can never be considered definitive. But I believe this is a fairly comprehensive list of the world’s top restaurants and reflects present day preferences and tastes.
1) Noma – Copenhagen, Denmark: For the past seven years this Danish restaurant has been on all foodies radars. The food here is imaginatively prepared and the chef uses a revolutionary approach to cooking. Rene Redzepi is the man in charge and is a wonder. His cooking methods are non traditional and has almost by himself changed how the rest of the world sees Nordic cuisine. You’ll learn plenty about the culture and traditions of Denmark just by eating here. Their starters are worth the fight for a reservation alone.
2) El Celler de Can Roca – Girona, Spain: The restaurant is owned by the three Roca brothers and they certainly are passionate about food. Being passionate does not mean you cannot enjoy and have fun with what you serve though. Proud of the food of their part of Spain, Catalan ingredients are certainly the focal point of most dishes. Simple flavours are made special with clever combinations and cooking methods. All of their dishes are meant to cause a party in your mouth and leave a lasting impression.
3) Mugaritz – San Sebastian, Spain: Whatever you thought about food will completely be changed once you eat at Mugaritz. The idea behind the food at this Spanish restaurant is that it is intended to tell a story. Your experience at this restaurant will be magical and emotion-filled. This is a complete place to eat as it is not just stylish but also high on substance. You will be seduced by all they have to offer it is futile to resist.
4) Osteria Francescana – Modena, Italy: Tradition and modern collide in a good way at Osteria Francescana. Massimo Bottura is the mastermind behind it all. He does all he can to not offend but to shake up the plates and dishes of his region of Italy.
Simple plates to more complex ones everything is done well here. The restaurant was awarded its third Michelin star last year. Surprisingly informal and minimalist despite all its awards and praise.
5) Per Se – New York, New York: Set in Manhattan, this upscale restaurant has always been a top ranked restaurant but it has gotten even better over the past year. It is the American version of The French Laundry. That is because they are always striving to get better and do something different. These guys are not afraid to experiment. Some of New York’s most particular and elite diners eat at Thomas Keller’s restaurant. The menu changes daily as Keller is very particular. Every aspect of every dish is considered over and over. The dining room itself is very luxurious without being over the top.
6) Alinea – Chicago, U.S.A.: A very modern restaurant that is ahead of many others. The chef-patron Grant Achatz has put much thought in what it means to eat out. Almost artistic in the way the food is present whether on wires or right on the table itself. Preparation of the food here takes much technique from the chef. Don’t be surprised to see/taste gels, foams, powders, and concentrates
7) Arzak – San Sebastian, Spain: Run by a set of father and daughter chefs. Juan Mari and his daughter Elena have a very simple outlook. The two want things to be simple. They use traditional Spanish food and enhance it though flavours and textures. Any dish you order here will delight all of your senses. The cooking style and dishes of their Basque region remain the foundation of all that they do.
8) Dinner by Heston Blumenthal – London, England: Here’s the place everyone should go during the Olympics this summer. Going back as far as the 14th century to create its dishes, Dinner by Heston Blumenthal focuses on modern twists on traditional English dishes. The restaurant is the baby of Blumenthal and chef Ashley Palmer-Watts. Whatever dish you choose off their menu will make a lasting impression.
9) Eleven Madison Park – New York, New York: The Big Apple restaurant is co-owned by chef Daniel Humm and general manager Will Guidara. In one single year this restaurant has gone from one Michelin star to three. The concept is it features a four course tasting menu in which the patron chooses the core ingredient for each of the courses. You can relax while eating at this
10) Steirereck – Vienna, Austria: A restaurant that has been owned by the same family for 40 years. Run by owner/chef Heinz Reitbauer, a man who has become a culinary hero in Austria. Here they are interesting in the revival of long forgotten dishes. Plus they are very modern in their thinking with a focus on indigenous ingredients and sustainability across the food chain. A restaurant that has grown in reputation slowly but steadily.