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Best 50 Restaurants

The world’s 50 best restaurants for 2014 were recently announced. The list, sponsored by global food and equipment purveyors, is a veritable ‘who’s who’ of world chefs, although it is tilted toward the U.S. and Europe. Notably absent from the list are women (only two restaurants have women at the helm, and in both cases the women share top billing).

Topping the list is Noma, located in Copenhagen, Denmark and helmed by René Redzepi. Diners “are introduced to Noma’s food via its inimitable series of ‘snacks’ – 10 servings that include the likes of sea urchin toast and caramelised milk and cod liver.” The ambitious and innovative menu can be a shock to diners, but the dishes allegedly “make you feel glad to be alive.”

Second place went to last year’s winner, El Celler de Can Roca, which, despite its highbrow status, remains “at heart a local family-owned restaurant rooted in the fiercely independent state of Catalonia.” Guests are treated to a 14-course culinary experience that involves Catalan ingredients cooked perfectly and frequently enhanced by cutting edge techniques. Some dishes “are elaborate, such as a salad of sea anemone, razor-clam, cucumber and seaweed in escabèche, others are more straightforward; but each is beautifully balanced.”

At third place for the second year in a row is Osteria Francescana in Modena, Italy. The number four spot goes to Eleven Madison Park in New York, followed by Dinner by Heston Blumenthal. Dinner may be The Fat Duck’s younger relative, but Chef Ashley Palmer-Watts has taken the restaurant to dazzling heights. Rounding out the top ten are Mugaritz in San Sebastián, Spain; D.O.M. in Sáo Paulo, Brazil; Arzak in San Sebastián, Spain; Alinea in Chicago, USA; and The Ledbury in London, UK.

Most of us aren’t going to be able to dine at any of these stellar restaurants, but lucky for us, nine of the top 10 (and many more in the top 50) have given us a glimpse into what it might be like to dine there, or at least provide us an inkling of the chefs’ inspiration, through their cookbooks. René Redzepi of Noma recently released the acclaimed A Work in Progress, and previously published Noma: Time and Place in Nordic Cuisine. The number two restaurant’s driving force, Joan Roca, co-authored Sous-vide Cuisine and presumably was a major impetus behind El Celler de Can Roca. Massimo Bottura, of the number three Osteria Francescana, has penned Balsamic Vinegar and PRO. Attraverso traditione e innovazione.

Moving down the list, Daniel Humm of Eleven Madison Park co-wrote the restaurant’s cookbook and I Love New York (recently nominated for several awards). Heston Blumenthal has graced us with several cookbooks, and Andoni Luis Aduriz of Mugaritz not only provides us with a cookbook named for the restaurant, but has penned other books as well. D.O.M. head Alex Atala wrote a book that celebrates the Brazilian ingredients that inspire his cooking. Juan Mari Arzak gives us Arzak, recetas in addition to other cookbooks, and Grant Achatz provides us with inspiration through Alinea.

Which restaurant/chef cookbook most inspires you, and which of the top 50 restaurants would you most like to visit?

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  • Jane  on  April 29, 2014

    I'm lucky enough to have eaten at 3 of the top 10 – Eleven Madison Park, The Ledbury and Dinner. They were all really excellent. For food I think my favorite was The Ledbury and for atmosphere and service Eleven Madison Park. At Dinner we had the set lunch – I really would like to try the full menu one day. Set lunches are a good way to try out an expensive restaurant – the lunch at Dinner is £38 for 3 courses and at The Ledbury it's £45 for 4 courses. For the quality of the food, that is good value. Of the other top restaurants I would love to visit El Celler de Can Roca in Spain and Attica in Melbourne, Australia. Actually I would like to visit them all, but that's never going to happen!

  • Ambrosia  on  May 6, 2014

    I've been to Alinea and Eleven Madison Park. I think Alinea has the edge for originality and creativity of presentation, but Eleven Madison Park had a great fun atmosphere. I would love to round out the list. 🙂

    I have the Noma, Mugaritz, Alinea, Eleven Madison Park, A Work in Progress, and I Love New York cookbooks. They are fabulous – but I haven't made anything from them. (Whereas I have made a few dishes from The French Laudry cookbook.)

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