For the third year in a row, Noma in Denmark has taken the title of Best Restaurant in the World according to Restaurant Magazine. After looking through the list of the 99 runners up, I must admit that I’ve never eaten at any of these places. The closest I’ve come is eating at L’Atelier’s sister restaurants in the US, but I would imagine that the difference would be like drinking the last pint of Guinness and watching your buddy drink the last Guinness when you’re absolutely parched.
The L’Atelier experience changed my outlook on what food should be. Being stuffed to the point of bursting with 3 courses of foie and the obligatory butter laden, orgasm inducing pomme puree reinforced that there’s a significant difference between what good restaurants do, and what great restaurants do. The intensity and obsession with which the best chefs and brigades choose their ingredients and produce dishes is an incredibly rare occurrence, resulting in something almost other-worldly.
I will say that I am a bit disappointed that no Canadian restaurant made it into the top 100. I had high hopes for places like Joe Beef and Brasserie T, which are pushing the boundaries of great food in this country and are among some of the most innovative and crazy places to eat.
There are a few things from this year’s list that stand out in my mind:
David Chang is on fire. Not only does he have the most sought after food magazine (Lucky Peach #1 is going for $200 on eBay right now), he has two of his restaurants on this list. His focus on simple, familiar flavours with a twist, of which one may only conceive of after heavy doses of alcohol, is a departure from the traditional high dining fare that make up the bulk of the list.
Thomas Keller is STILL rocking it. Since he took over The French Laundry in 1994, he has consistently won awards, stars, and every other conceivable accolade. Every other place he touches (i.e. Per Se) has rocketed to the top of the charts as well. For a place to be operating that consistently and for such a long period of time takes a lot of fortitude, imagination, and skill. It is no wonder why he was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Awards this year.
Asia is a force to be reckoned with. 6 of the top 50 restaurants are in Asia. The number expands to 13 when you look at the top 100. This doesn’t include the ones that are heavily or completely Asian influenced. In my opinion, this shows the power of Asian influenced cooking and the focus and caliber of the talent in the Asia-Pacific region. The mixtures of ingredients, cultures and talents are a natural place to drive creativity and will propel Asia into an influential role within world cuisine.
My notable restaurants on this year’s list include:
- Mugaritz, Spain, #3
- Per Se (Thomas Keller), USA, #6
- Alinea, USA, #7
- Arzak, Spain, #8
- Eleven Madison Park, USA, #10
- L’Atelier Saint-Germain, France, #12
- The Fat Duck, UK, #13
- Le Bernadin, USA, #19
- Iggy’s, Singapore #26
- Momofuku Ssam Bar, USA, #37
- French Laundry, USA, #43
- Tetsuya’s, Australia, #76
- Momofuku Ko, USA, #79
- Masa, USA, #90
You can bet that these places are going on my bucket list.
To see the list in all it’s glory, head over to The World’s 50 Best website.