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Best Restaurants in the World? Look who got my votes…

This week, saw the San Pellegrino sponsored 50 Best Restaurants in the World announced with a great fanfare in London.

Anyone who is anyone in world catering is keen to be featured in this exclusive league table as, if nothing else, it guarantees them a PR bonanza.

It’s amazing, when you consider that the awards themselves were only initiated in the newly formed “Restaurant” magazine in 2002, established by North West dining entrepreneurs Derek and Edwina Lilley who’d been the brains behind – first of all the creation and then sale of the EST EST EST group of restaurants – followed by the Restaurant Bar and Grill and then Piccolinos.  This originally North West based enterprise has now become a huge global phenomenon with the great and the good seeking recognition for each of their establishments.


“Who decides and how?”, I hear you ask.  Well, there are now over 600 of us luminaries from the world of dining, hospitality and journalism, who contribute their 5 selections, but back in 2002 that list was somewhat smaller with merely about 50 of us.  In those early days I was very gratified to be sandwiched between Paul Heathcote and Nigel Howarth as a selected voter but things have moved on a little since then, to help make this truly a worldwide selection panel.

This year’s winner, for the second year running, was Copenhagen eatery Noma and it’s an establishment that I am hoping to visit later on this year, so I’ll tell you whether I think it deserves its august status as the world’s best restaurant.

Beyond number one, the top ten sees three Spanish establishments leading an Iberian charge that has been evident for years, ever since the now sadly closed El Bulli, captured the first ever award in 2002 – not to mention several times since.

The UK’s highest entry was Heston Blumenthals Fat Duck at Bray, which not too surprisingly in view of some well publicised health scares this year, has slipped two places to fifth.

Other UK venues include the Ledbury, a marvellously relaxed but none the less excellent restaurant in Notting Hill at Number 34 and the recently relocated Hibiscus up 6 at Number 43, which the owners bravely moved from the foodie enclave of Ludlow to the Smoke.

Trends equally evident over the last few years have seen Gordon Ramsay, a one time  number two in the list, now not be recognised anywhere in the top 50 with the same applying to trans-atlantic staple Nobu, as well as, one time winner the French Laundry in San Francisco, which in a few years has plummeted by over 50 places.  Maybe it’s because Chef/Patron Thomas Keller has become ever more preoccupied with his New York outlet Per Se, which has reversed the Laundry’s decline by rising to Number 10.

The list is now truly cosmopolitan and includes establishments from countries including Peru, Russia, Mexico and Brazil.

Who gets my votes? Well, for what it’s worth my five selections would be:

  1. L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon, Paris/London (Placed 14)
  2. Fish Market, Reykjavik (Not listed)
  3. Al Halabi, Four Seasons, Damascus (Not listed)
  4. St John, London (Placed 41)
  5. New York Grill, Park Hyatt Hotel, Tokyo (Not listed)


As you can see some of my votes tally with the other “experts”, whilst others are a little more esoteric.  Be that as it may, surely that’s the point of the exercise.

Bon provecho

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