The Fat Duck, Bray, Berkshire, Britain
Le Meurice, Paris, France
Best Restaurant in the World: ?The Fat Duck, Bray, Berkshire, Britain
Best American Restaurant: The French Laundry, California
Best European Restaurant: The Fat Duck, Bray, Britain
Best African and Middle Eastern Restaurant: Le Quartier Francais, South Africa
Best Asian Restaurant: Felix, Hong Kong
Best Australasian Restaurant: Tetsuya¡¯s, Sydney, Australia
Highest New Entrant: Per Se, New York, New York
Highest Climber: Chez Panisse, California
Top Ten Best Restaurants in the World: A Review
THE FAT DUCK
Bray, Berkshire, Britain
This is the place that does bacon-and-egg ice cream, snail porridge and sardine-on-toast sorbet. So you can safely say you¡¯ve never had a meal like it. Run by chef Heston Blumenthal since it opened in 1995, it already has three Michelin stars under its belt. The spectacular eight-course tasting menu costs $225.
Bookings: Reserve two weeks in advance for weekdays and at least a month ahead for weekends.
Where to stay: Make a gastronomic weekend of it and stay at the Michelin-starred nine-room Waterside Inn.
With sweeping views of the Costa Brava and an unprecedented approach to food, El Bulli is a great adventure for the traveling gourmet. Ferran Adria opens his restaurant from March to September; the rest of the time, he¡¯s in his workshop, experimenting with new tastes and techniques. Be his guinea pig and sign up for the $265 tasting menu.
Bookings: Don¡¯t hold your breath, but worth the phone call to see if there are any availabilities.
Where to stay: Nearby Roses is packed and touristy. Head in the other direction to Cala Joncols, a fairly modest 25-room hotel in its own gardens behind the beach.
¡°Is it possible that the best French restaurant is not in France?¡± asks the critic from Le Monde. Well, it certainly appears so. Thomas Keller¡¯s Napa Valley French country restaurant is unforgettable. The 10-course tasting menu is incredible. Open with bagaduce oysters and ossetra caviar, then wing through variations on truffles, tuna nicoise, sweet butter-poached lobster, chicken and dumplings, spring lamb and so on, finishing in triumph with the delice au chocolat et caramel. Heaven-on-a-plate for $220.
Bookings: Reserve up to two months in advance.
Where to stay: Continue the French-California theme at Maison Fleurie ¡ª five minutes from the restaurant. It has 13 rooms set in a peaceful landscaped garden. Bicycles are provided to help tick off the surrounding Napa wineries.
Every dish is a masterpiece at this amazing inner city oasis, where France walks down the aisle with Japan. Set in a tranquil Japanese garden, you¡¯ll be amazed by what Head Chef Testsuya Wakuda can do with food. Tetsuya¡¯s cuisine is unique, based on the Japanese philosophy of natural seasonal flavors, enhanced by classic French technique. Tetsuya¡¯s renowned degustation set menu changes frequently. A typical meal could start with a plate of hors d¡¯oeuvres ¡ª a gazpacho with spiced tomato sorbet, tartare of tuna with fresh wasabi and tataki of venison with rosemary and honey. Tetsuya¡¯s signature dish follows, confit of ocean trout served with unpasteurised ocean trout roe, followed by double cooked deboned spatchcock with braised daikon and bread sauce, followed by a grilled fillet of grain fed beef with sansho and shiitake mushrooms. Desserts include an orange, honey and black pepper sorbet served prior to a blue cheese bavarois. Finally, early season berries with orange and Grand Marnier jelly and champagne ice cream, a floating island with vanilla and praline anglaise, and a flourless chocolate cake with a bitter chocolate sorbet and orange ice cream. Tetsuya¡¯s offers one of Sydney¡¯s most remarkable wine lists, and will match the dishes with wine available by the glass. The combination of excellent food and superb service will make this culinary experience unforgettable.
Bookings: Bookings are essential and can be made one week ahead of time. All major credit cards are accepted.
Royal Hospital Road, London, Britain
Ramsay¡¯s first and best, established in 1998 and sporting a well deserved three stars since 2001. When he¡¯s not roasting his kitchen staff, Ramsay oversees a particularly intimate setup here ¡ª there are just 14 tables. At $213, the seven-course menu prestige is great value, especially with the wine list starting at $30. Treats include tortellini of lobster and saut¨¦ed loin of venison with creamed cabbage and bitter chocolate sauce.
Bookings: You can make a reservation up to one calendar month in advance.
Where to stay: The boutique Myhotel Chelsea is a 15-minute walk from the restaurant.
Rue Balzac, Paris, France
El Bulli¡¯s Adria has been dubbed the Salvador Dali of cooking. Gagnaire should be its Matisse: a bold, experimental chef cooking up a storm in the chic 8th arrondissement. The nine-course prix fixe menu costs $373. Leave room for the famous Grand Dessert, seven mini delights such as rum baba, roasted rhubarb and buckwheat pancake.
Bookings: Reservations are taken up to a month ahead.
Where to stay: The 1920¡¯s Hotel Elysees Matignon is also in the 8th arrondissement.
New York, New York
Chef Thomas Keller, whose French Laundry (California) is one of the best restaurants in the United States, has opened his newest establishment far from the bucolic Napa Valley. The $12 million Per Se, with a sleek wood-and-glass design by Adam Tihany and views of Columbus Circle, is on the fourth floor of the galleria of shops in the new Time Warner complex, near Central Park. Not only is the food superb (try the sensational rack of baby lamb), it¡¯s also fun: miniature ice-cream cones filled with salmon tartare, ¡°Jurassic¡± salt that¡¯s 30 million years old, tiny panna cotta made with cauliflower and topped with an oyster glaze and a dollop of osetra caviar. Don¡¯t miss the exotic desserts like poached Asian pear-Spanish almond tart and the perfect cr¨¨me br?l¨¦e topped with a paper-thin sheet of glazed sugar. The service is amazing, unparalleled except perhaps by that at French Laundry. Per Se is grand luxe without the pretention: ¡°Here¡¯s coffee and a doughnut,¡± said the waiter, setting down a semifreddo in a cup frothed like a cappuccino alongside a small hot beignet shaped like a ring with a ball on top. (Five-course tasting menu, $125; nine-course chef¡¯s tasting menu, $175.)
Exclusive, high quality and worth every penny, Tom Aikens is one of the finest restaurants in London. Celebrities, business people and locals alike are flocking to the restaurant to discover for themselves if the gastronomic modern French cuisine really is up there with the likes of Gordon Ramsay¡¯s. Delectable dishes include roasted foie gras with beetroot pickle and syrup, and roast langoustines with peas and braised veal shin. The secluded Elystan Street location, led by a young, talented husband and wife team, Tom Aikens is a real winner. Awarded a Michelin star within 10 months of opening, there is no doubt another is not far away.
New York, New York
Celebrity chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten¡¯s prix-fixe restaurant near Central Park is a true culinary destination. The main dining room is dressed in neutral colors, with beige banquettes and minimal decoration. Vongerichten¡¯s Asian-accented French cooking shows a like-minded restraint, with some unusual combinations: sea scallops in caper-raisin emulsion with caramelized cauliflower is an outstanding example. Elegant desserts, exceedingly personalized service, and a well-selected wine list contribute to the overall experience. The Nougatine serves a more moderate ¨¤ la carte menu in the front area, with a view of the open kitchen.
Bookings: Reservations essential one week in advance. Jacket required. American Express, Discover, MasterCard, Visa. Closed Sunday. Subway: A, B, C, D, 1, 9 to 59th St.-Columbus Circle.