Well, here they are, the San Pellegrino–sponsored listing of the worlds greatest eateries:
1. El Bulli Spain (World's best restaurant and best in Europe)
2. The Fat Duck UK
3. Pierre Gagnaire France
4.The French Laundry USA (Best in the Americas)
5. Tetsuya's Australia (Best in Australasia)
6. Bras France
7. Mugaritz Spain
8. Le Louis XV Monaco
9. Per Se USA
10. Arzak Spain
11. El Celler de Can Roca Spain
12. Gambero Rosso Italy
13. L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon France
14. Hof van Cleve Belgium
15. Noma Denmark (Highest climber)
16. Le Calandre Italy
17. Nobu London UK
18. Jean Georges USA
19. Hakkasan UK
20. Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athénée France
21. L'Astrance France
22. Can Fabes Spain
23. L'Ambroisie France
24. Restaurant Gordon Ramsay UK
25. Troisgros France
26. Le Bernardin USA
27. Martin Berasategui Spain
28. Le Gavroche UK
29. Le Cinq France
30. Charlie Trotter's USA
31. Dal Pescatore Italy
32. Daniel USA
33. Rockpool Australia
34. St John UK
35. Chez Dominique Finland
36. Alinea USA (Highest new entry)
37. Bukhara India (Best in Asia)
38. DOM Brazil
39. Oaxen Skärgårdskrog Sweden
40. Chez Panisse USA
41. Enoteca Pinchiorri Italy
42. Cracco Peck Italy (New entry)
43. L'Arpège France
44. River Café UK (Re-entry)
45. Oud Sluis Netherlands
46. Combal Zero Italy (New entry)
47. Le Quartier Français South Africa (Best in Middle East and Africa)
48. Taillevent France
49. Bocuse France
50. Les Ambassadeurs France (New entry)
The awards ceremony took place two nights ago in London. Now I know that Bob and Sue Macdonald have eaten in most of these eateries, and shockingly—thanks in no small part to eating on someone else’s dime overseas—I have eaten at nineteen of them. But lists like these do beg the question, “Who eats at these places???" Globetrotting, food-obsessed elites, that’s who.
Voting in this straw poll are 651 judges from around the world, and for the second year in a row, The Fat Duck finished second to Ferran Adrià's El Bulli. France has twelve entries on the list, up from ten last year. The US has eight and the UK has seven, making the decades-old British food jokes obsolete in many circles. Spain and Italy tie in fourth place with six entries apiece. Heston Blumenthal won this year's Best Chef award, decided on by the chefs on last year's 50 Best list.
So here is my question: What are the five best extant restaurants in our town, and who is the best chef currently working in a restaurant today? And if anyone out there cares to compare notes about dining at any of the SP top fifty, I am anxious to hear it.
Best eatery not on the list . . . Paris’s Hiramatsu. Most obvious missing representative cuisines . . . Chinese and Mexican, but the judges voting in the contest are Westerners—almost exclusively, I am guessing. Too bad.
Almost two years ago, I wrote in our magazine that Grant Achatz’s Alinea in Chicago was the most important restaurant in America, and I still think so. Make a point of eating there this year. You’ll love it.
We celebrated Debbie J.’s thirtieth B-day at Martini Blu. We had a blast, despite the almost comically bad food and horribly depressing vibe in the restaurant. The place is on life support. Is there anything worse than sitting in a dead restaurant that everyone is pretending is still alive? I know they are reconcepting the place, but why wouldn’t they want to put their best foot forward, despite the upcoming changes? The whole hotel was oddly depressing, sepulchral. Our servers did the best they could—they reminded me of clairvoyant stewards on the Titanic, vaguely sensing and concealing the impending disaster every time they came by our table. The main dining room was closed, only the sushi bar was open, and this was on a Saturday night!
My top five in our town (food/service/ambience in a 50/25/25 weighted average) would be:
La Belle Vie
Heartland, 20.21, Vincent, Masa, Morton's, Manny’s, Oceanaire, and Cosmos (new chef) all are in the conversation as well. Am I missing anything?
. . . and I think that Tim McKee is creating the best food of any chef in town these days—no one else is even close.