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San Pellegrino has announced the 50 best restaurants in the world for 2014
Noma returns to the top spot on San Pellegrino's list of the World's 50 Best Restaurants in 2014.
San Pellegrino has just announced its selections for the World’s 50 Best Restaurants of 2014, also known in the culinary world as the “Oscars of Fine Dining.”
In 2013, Spain’s El Celler de Can Roca beat out Noma of Copenhagen for the coveted top spot, but this year, René Redzepi's restaurant regained its place as the world's best restaurant.
The selections are expected to have considerable influence on the financial success of each restaurant, and according to some, have more weight than the Michelin star rankings. This year, the top 10 restaurants were found in Spain, Italy, London, South America, and the United States.
The top 10 restaurants in the world named by San Pellegrino were The Ledbury in London, Alinea in Chicago, Arzak in Spain, DOM in Brazil, Mugaritz in Spain, Dinner by Heston Blumenthal in London, Eleven Madison Park in New York City, Osteria Francescana in Italy, El Celler de Can Roca in Spain, and finally, Noma in Copenhagen.
Immediately following the awards ceremony, Catalan chef Ferran Adrià, whose world-renowned restaurant elBulli was consistently named the world's best restaurant (four consecutive times from 2006 to 2009) until elBulli closed in 2011, tweeted the following message in three languages:
Llega un momento en que uno sólo lucha contra sí mismo. Felicidades a los #50bestrestaurants.
— Ferran Adrià (@ferranadria) April 28, 2014
There comes a moment when you're fighting only against yourself. Congrats to the #50bestrestaurants.
— Ferran Adrià (@ferranadria) April 28, 2014
Arriba un moment en que solament lluites contra tu mateix. Felicitats als #50bestrestaurants
— Ferran Adrià (@ferranadria) April 28, 2014
Karen Lo is an associate editor at The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @appleplexy.
The 2017 List of the World's 50 Best Restaurants Has Been Revealed&mdashHere's Every Single One
The long-awaited list of the World&aposs 50 Best Restaurants is finally here𠅊nd New Yorkers have reason to celebrate. According to the ranking, Daniel Humm and Will Guidara’s pricey Eleven Madison Park, can now proudly claim the title for *the* best restaurant in the world.
Chef René Redzepi&aposs restaurant Noma held the title of "World&aposs Best" for several years, but it&aposs no surprise that it&aposs not on the list this year Redzepi is currently helming a pop-up version of the restaurant in Mexico and its flagship location is waiting to be reopened.
The annual list was unveiled tonight in Australia (remember, there&aposs a huge time difference!) after being independently refereed by Deloitte Consulting. Votes came from members of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants Academy, a group comprised of over 1,000 members of the international restaurant community who are required to list their choices in preferential order. Each member is able to cast 10 votes for their favorite venues from the past 18 months, just as long as at least 4 of the restaurants they choose are located outside of their home regions.
Of course, like any competition, this one doesn&apost come without controversy. Critics often lament the lack of female chefs (only three of this year&aposs 50 spots went to restaurants run by women) and wallet-friendly options, as well as the fact that Academy members are permitted to accept free meals and other perks.
But you can find the full list below, and more information about the awards here.
Best Female Chef: Ana Roš (Hiᘚ Franko, Slovenia)
Best Pastry Chef: Dominique Ansel (Dominique Ansel Bakery, NYC)
Lifetime Achievement Award: Heston Blumenthal (The Fat Duck, UK)
One to Watch: Disfrutar (Barcelona, Spain)
Sustainable Restaurant Award: Septime (Paris)
Chef’s Choice Award: Virgilio Martinez (Central, Lima)
Art of Hospitality Award: El Celler de Can Roca (Girona, Spain)
Noma Reopened With Burgers Served at Picnic Tables. It's Just What the People Want.
As fine dining around the world goes through a pandemic-induced existential crisis, all eyes are on one of the world's best restaurants for clues on how to move forward.
René Redzepi remembers the day that spontaneity died at Noma. It was late 2009, and his wildly inventive Copenhagen restaurant was suddenly on the radar of gastronomes around the world. Reservations were going bonkers. One guest ordered the tasting menu plus every single dish on the à la carte menu on the side. &ldquoI thought, &lsquoOh shit, this is new times, something is really happening here,&rsquo&rdquo Redzepi recalled this week. That kind of order created a hassle as the kitchen had to shrink every à la carte dish to a tasting menu portion. So once Noma topped the World&rsquos Best 50 list for the first time the next year&mdashin April of 2010&mdashthe à la carte menu was dropped, and Noma became a restaurant with one carefully calibrated and controlled menu.
&ldquoWhen we opened up we were never a one menu restaurant,&rdquo Redzepi said. &ldquoYou could come for lunch and eat a cooked cod and have a glass of beer and be out in 45 minutes.&rdquo
But a decade and a month since Noma was first crowned the world&rsquos best restaurant, spontaneity has returned to the kitchen in the most unexpected way&mdashand Redzepi is pumped. Like his peers running fine dining places that have closed around the world, he&rsquos been through the same existential crisis, worrying about how Noma will look when it comes out the other side. He knows many eyes are on him to show the same sort of innovative thinking and leadership as he did to make Noma one of the world&rsquos most influential restaurants. Across the U.S. many fine dining places like Blue Hill at Stone Barns and Alinea have switched to a to-go model. Some have reinvented themselves as groceries. Many have, unfortunately, closed. His response to being locked down at home for two months, unable to run a restaurant or see friends, has been to throw open Noma&rsquos guard-patrolled gates. He has turned Noma into a come-as-you-are wine bar and burger joint with picnic benches set up in its spring garden. The next era of Noma? Well, it&rsquos expressed most emphatically in the form of &ldquothe best goddamned cheeseburger&rdquo his chefs could conjure up, accompanied with juicy, accessible natural wines. &ldquoBurger wines,&rdquo as sommelier Mads Kleppe said with a laugh.
If you needed any more evidence that Covid-19 has changed the way the world works, you&rsquod find it here beside a lake on a sunny spring day, talking cheeseburgers with one of the world&rsquos most restlessly creative chefs. The last time Redzepi and his team served meat at Noma, it was lightly stewed deer brain and a tartare of fresh duck heart. Today it is a third of a pound of organic, grass-fed, dry-aged Danish beef ground three times to improve the flavor, and turbocharged with beef fat and garum, traditionally a type of fermented fish sauce but in this case made with fermented beef, fungus, and koji. It&rsquos then dressed with a mayonnaise laced with pickled cucumbers and Dijon mustard, and topped with sliced raw red onion and a piece of organic Danish cheddar. It is juicy and beefy&mdashbut not tricked up.
This is how Redzepi decided to respond to the global calamity: He wanted to make everyone feel welcome. Opening a wine bar alone would not have done that, because it would have been perceived as catering to its normal crowd. So he settled on a burger, &ldquobecause it&rsquos the thing that everyone loves.&rdquo A nomaburger, a dish for all seasons, an inclusive gesture of solidarity towards fellow Copenhageners by an exclusive restaurant that was alien to most of them.
&ldquoTo tell you the truth, I'm not a gigantic burger lover&mdashI never have been&mdashbut it's not about what I want, it's about what people want to eat,&rdquo said Redzepi. &ldquoIt just felt wrong to open Noma as a five-hour thing. The most important thing right now is that we remember to take care of people, open the doors, smile at each other, get the positivity going, get the anxiety shaken off, you know, get a new era going.&rdquo
Hours before the first burgers were served to a small group of family and friends at a trial run on Wednesday, Redzepi had his instincts confirmed when a kindergarten class walked by with their teachers. &ldquoIt was so funny, one of the kids said, &lsquoHey, my dad says you can get burgers in there.&rsquo I don't think there's a Dane who doesn't know there will be burgers at Noma from Thursday.&rdquo As it happened, hundreds of them turned out on the day, May 21, a public holiday in Denmark, forming lines that snaked in two directions a few hundred yards along the road. By 6 p.m. they had sold 1,200 burgers priced at Danish kroners 125 (around $18) apiece to take away, or 150 kroners (about $22) to eat in&mdasha bit more expensive than others around town but about 1/18th the price of the seafood menu Noma last served on March 14.
"I'm not a gigantic burger lover&mdashI never have been&mdashbut it's not about what I want, it's about what people want to eat."
This week Redzepi, like many others in the Danish capital, has been reveling in the first real sense of freedom since being sequestered in mid-March. It&rsquos been tough but, as Redzepi said, Denmark has had a slightly easier pandemic, getting off much more lightly than the U.S., U.K., Italy, and other parts of the world. One of the first into lockdown, it was one of the first out after smashing the curve of contagion while it shielded workers and showered money on hibernating businesses. On Monday restaurants, cafes, and bars began tentatively reopening with strict hygiene and social distancing rules, but no face masks. By Thursday the tourist-free but busy city felt downright festive. The sun&rsquos UV rays may not kill the virus but they were like a blast of radiation on the coronavirus blues.
&ldquoWe've been cooped up inside, cut off from each other for so long, to have this be your first breath of fresh air, so to speak, it's not bad,&rdquo said Noma&rsquos fermentation director David Zilber, who was sitting in the Noma garden. Long before he became a fermentation freak with his own cult following, he was a butcher in Toronto breaking down whole animals and making burgers. &ldquoKnowing what cut to use. Brisket, chuck, or bavette, something that has inherent marbling but also texture was just part of the job,&rdquo he said of that early role. He teamed up with British sous chef Stuart Stalker and within two days they had created a perfect burger, with the best grind and fat ratio, the right percentage of beef garum (or what Zilber calls &ldquoamazing-rich-Bovril-super-power-good-real-food-flavour-bomb&rdquo), a tasty mayo, and a potato bun supplied by Gasoline Grill, the Danish capital&rsquos reigning burger kings.
The Fat Duck, a previous winner, slumped to 47th from 33rd. Central, in Lima, rose to 15th place from 50th, climbing the rankings faster than any other establishment.
The awards have turned into the biggest annual gathering of chefs from around the world and are now accompanied by other events in London. This year, those included a lunch at Lima -- the London restaurant owned by Central’s Virgilio Martinez -- which was attended by Peruvian chef Gaston Acurio and by Massimo Bottura of Osteria Francescana.
Noma’s Redzepi was among guests at a party at Fera, in Claridge’s, on April 27.
Other accolades included Lifetime Achievement for Fergus Henderson of St. John in London and Best Female Chef, which went to Helena Rizzo of Mani in Sao Paulo.
El Bulli won in 2002, the first year of the awards, and triumphed four more times (2006-2009) before chef Ferran Adria decided to close it. Other winners include the French Laundry (2003, 2004), the Fat Duck (2005) and Noma (2010-12).
The World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2014 (last year’s rank in brackets):
Looking back at Noma's ambitious vegetable menu
René Redzepi used to undervalue vegetables. Then he realised they weren’t just simple garnishes, but strong enough “to be the lead guitarist of a dish", he told Desert Island Discs, back in 2014.
This year, the chef behind Copenhagen’s Noma, gave these ingredients enough power and decibel range to turn vegetables into full-volumed, onstage megastars. The celeriac shawarma, for instance, became a recognisable international hit after Redzepi posted a picture of it – in caramelised, slow-cooked and charred glory – on Instagram in July (after dropping a demo version on his social media accounts in April).
The celeriac shawarma was the blockbuster course on the Plant Kingdom menu, which Noma served during Denmark’s warmer months, until the season ended recently. It’s the second menu that the restaurant has presented since its reboot in February. Noma – which has been named the World’s Best Restaurant four times – moved into its new location earlier this year. The site was chosen for the area’s link to progressive communities and nothing captures such thinking better than the power plant across the water – which looks cartoonishly like some evil construction you could imagine Captain Planet trying to righteously shut down. It seems at odds with Noma’s wildly overgrown garden full of sunflowers and its understated building complex, which includes three greenhouses and a farmhouse-style dining room that’s in tune with the landscape.
But the apparently sinister incinerator is anything but: it's actually an “ultra-green waste-to-energy power plant” that’s also an artificial ski slope (yes, imagine blazing downhill among those plumes) – and is part of Copenhagen’s plans to become the first zero-carbon capital in the world. It might seem strange to devote so much attention to the smoke stacks across the lake from Noma, but it’s telling that both buildings are by the same architect: Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG).
Just as the background intel about those waste-generating towers make you rethink what you’re actually seeing, so does the hidden-in-the-fine-print revelations about Noma’s interiors (by architect David Thulstrup). The unshowy main room includes solid-oak flooring from 200-year-old trees a central counter is made from salvaged timber that’s just as old and naturally darkened after all the time it spent in the harbour and the walls are fashioned from planks that are discreetly held together by 250,000 screws.
Similarly, the vegetable menu is also full of impressive creations that quietly contain a staggering amount of work. Like the celeriac shawarma, for instance.
“It takes four people most of the day to slice and build the shawarma,” says Hugh Allen, an Australian chef who has been at Noma full-time since April 2016 (his CV also includes Melbourne’s Vue de Monde and Rockpool Bar & Grill). While it looks like something that’s cooked on a spit, the celeriac dish is actually cooked like a terrine.
“It takes four people most of the day to slice and build the shawarma.”
“Firstly, we slice and vacuum-bag the slices in truffle juice and brown butter, they are then steamed for 15 minutes and iced down until cold," he says. "Then it’s layer by layer built in a rectangular mould between each layer, it’s brushed with truffle purée, a linseed fudge, and celeriac purée.”
At times, Allen got to parade the shawarma throughout the restaurant, giving the ultra-savoury dish its close-up, before it was presented on a plate with a Finnish hunting knife. You’re given slices of sourdough (by ex-Tartine baker Richard Hart) to help soak up the celeriac juices and the mushroomy, burnt butter sauce it’s served with.
Analiese Gregory, the head chef from Hobart’s Franklin, named this course as one of the menu highlights, for “its ridiculous meaty richness”.
She also loved the “fruit ceviche” layered with green and red strawberries (Firedoor’s Lennox Hastie called this “the dish that made the biggest impression on me” and Chat Thai’s Palisa Anderson said it was “delightful”, although the Scandinavian dolma, with “immense flavours” extracted from the poached cucumber skins, was also a close favourite).
Given Gregory’s extensive experiments with mould at Spain’s Mugaritz, perhaps it’s not surprising that she name-checked the “mould pancake” with plum kernel ice-cream and balsamic vinegar (sourced from Massimo Bottura) as another knock-you-out highlight.
Perhaps a dish with the word “mould” would shut down your appetite rather than inspire it, but Acme’s Mitch Orr breaks down the dish’s appeal pretty easily: “the mould pancake was basically an ice-cream sandwich … you can't go wrong with that.” (It helps that it didn’t taste or look scandalously mouldly the pancake had an earthy, wheaty flavour, like eating a tortilla wrapped around a cold, creamy dessert.)
“The mould pancake was basically an ice-cream sandwich … you can't go wrong with that.”
Orr also ranked the dish made of thin, crisp layers of caramelised milk as another standout, because it was essentially “a truffle cheese toastie”. (He is right.) Both dishes were technical wonders, but also had enough comfort-food familiarity to hook you in.
You could say the same about the sea buckthorn and blackcurrant butterfly, which looks like a multicoloured lollipop and tastes like a Roll-up from your childhood.
Surprisingly, that was one of the “most stressful dishes” to make, because it “takes days of different steps to prepare” and “you’re stuffed” if something goes wrong, because there is no quick fix, says Allen. It’s a reality that isn’t so obvious when you scroll through the eye-catching Instagram imagery that diners post from their Noma table.
Given Noma’s international standing, it’s not surprising that the Plant Kingdom menu left an impact on the Australians who dined there. “The whole conversation of ‘vegetable-forward dining’ can only be helped by having one of the most talked-about restaurants in the world backing it up,” says Anderson, who also runs Boon Luck Farm in Byron Bay and “was extremely fortunate” to visit the farm where many of Noma’s organic vegetables are grown.
“I spent a morning chatting with Richard Hart in his greenhouse bakery out the front about bread, starters, feeding, flours, wood-fired ovens versus decks, which was illuminating,” says Gregory. Her visit to Noma hasn’t just upped her sourdough game, it also gave her a creative push: she wants to be more experimental with vegetables and not worry about guests who ask “where is the meat?” she’s also isn’t going to take Tasmania’s short veg-growing seasons for granted, either. Hastie, meanwhile, left “fascinated by Noma’s fermentation programme” and the way the restaurant propels vegetables to their upper limits.
"The whole conversation of ‘vegetable-forward dining’ can only be helped by having one of the most talked-about restaurants in the world backing it up.”
While Orr thinks it’s pointless to put yourself in the same league as Noma (because it would be “so unachievable”), the experience can resonate in other long-lasting ways.
“Seeing them integrate ingredients, flavour profiles and techniques they've picked up from their different pop-ups [in Japan, Australia and Mexico], shows that even the restaurant most of us think is the best in the world isn't ever finished learning.”
Reservations are currently open for Noma’s Game & Forest season. The Plant Kingdom menu returns next year, after the Seafood season.
Review: The world’s most influential restaurant reinvents itself. Jonathan Gold tastes the changes
Sea snails from the Faroe Islands are used for a bouillon sipped from the shell that is served at Noma Copenhagen.
“Jellyfish” with seaweeds served at Noma Copenhagen.
Danish venus clams with blackcurrant wood fudge served at Noma Copenhagen.
Queen clams from Northern Norway, served at Noma Copenhagen.
Chef René Redzepi at Noma Copenhagen.
Salad with sea snail from the Faroe Islands with roses. Side serving of sea snail roe with kelp butter.
The 100-year-old mahogany clam: It is served with salted green gooseberries, pickled blackcurrant shoots, fresh blackcurrant buds and blackcurrant capers. It is seasoned with a blackcurrant wood oil and mussel juice. The mahogany clam is hand-dived in Northern Norway.
Interior of Noma Copenhagen.
(Jason Loucas / Jason Loucas)
Interior of Noma Copenhagen.
(Jason Loucas / Jason Loucas)
Plate setting at Noma Copenhagen.
(Jason Loucas / Jason Loucas)
The first act of a meal at Noma passes as a dream rich sea snail bouillon sipped from its herb-smeared shell fading into a field of empty cockleshells in which two or three contain the sweet meat a mussel constructed from the chewy lips of half a dozen mussels woven into a single shell hot shrimp and cold shrimp heads a sea star painted on a rough earthen plate with the most delicate cured trout roe and a splash of eggy cream.
You taste foods in ways you’ve never thought about tasting them before, sipped concoctions of plankton and rhubarb with them as if they were fine wine.
When something that looks very much like a raw moon jelly is set down in front of you, marked with the semi-circular squiggles you have seen a dozen times in world aquariums but not considered food, you trust René Redzepi and his enormous kitchen crew. You thrust your spoon into the mass. It is cool and slippery, strongly marine, with a subtlety of texture you never would have expected if you have crunched through jellyfish dishes from China or Korea. The squiggles at the bottom of the creature taste more like . seaweed? . than they do like fish organs. You are almost disappointed when a passing cook confesses that the jellyfish was fashioned from thickened squid juice, that the kitchen had failed to find a way to make raw jellyfish palatable. And still — you are glad that somebody was brave enough to take one for the team.
There were moments when my trip to Copenhagen last week seemed like a stroll through a panopticon, with a sense that everyone I ran into, from the customs agent in the airport to the barista who made my cortado in the morning knew exactly why I was in Denmark, and had both strong and conflicting ideas about it. If you drink in natural-wine bars, fancy hay-smoked mackerel with your ramen and gravitate toward the kind of taverns where the bar snacks might include cod’s tongues or mead-glazed cauliflower, Copenhagen can seem like a very small town.
If you are in Copenhagen to eat at Noma, which is to say wallow for a bit in the ball pit of New Nordic cuisine, your itinerary is fairly circumscribed to begin with. Nobody just happens to eat at Noma, especially a week after it has reopened in its new quarters, a converted naval ammunition bunker near the anarchist community of Christiania, on the shore of a city lake. The seat lottery process for the restaurant, often considered the best in the world, makes Powerball seem like a sure thing. You have flown to Denmark in mid-winter to dine on what Redzepi’s Instagram feed seems to imply will be cod head, those raw moon jellies, and clams that were alive during the first World War.
The owner at the merely awesome restaurant where you have lunch, who can make boiled salsify taste like the best plate of pasta you had on your last trip to Italy, smiles bitterly. He knows that you have not flown all that way to see him.
A few hours later, after a cab driver drops you off in the middle of what looks like a dark and lonely field, you are led past a succession of greenhouses, through a room that has the open, woody feeling of a modernist ski lodge, and at a seat that looks across a narrow lake onto the majestic, steam-puffing power plant that provides the power for most of the city. The dining room’s décor includes a kind of frieze made from dried squids. The cooks and waitstaff, often interchangeable here, worked for weeks alongside the carpenters, helping to build the series of intersecting pavilions that makes up the restaurant, and they are as proud of the clean-lined woodwork as they are of the cuisine.
Redzepi appears at your table.
“You may see a fox tonight,” he says, peering out into tall grasses illuminated by the restaurant’s windows. “They feast on the ducks that sometimes come to the shore. We are only a kilometer or two from the center of Copenhagen, but this is wild nature.”
Noma, as you’ve probably heard, is the Copenhagen restaurant considered by many people, including me, to be the most influential in the world, the place where the dominant strains in world cooking — localism, seasonality, sustainability and science — came together into a whole, aided by Redzepi’s strong sense of narrative. The renaissance in fermented foods probably started here, the small plates arranged to resemble tidepool ecosystems, and the tendency to incorporate homegrown labs into the nursery of cuisine.
The original Noma had a splendid run, from 2003 until just last year, and saw as its mission the reinvention of Nordic cuisine, using only ingredients found in the Nordic countries and the techniques Redzepi had learned working at the French Laundry and El Bulli. The World’s 50 Best site named it the best restaurant in the world four times. The diaspora of ex-Noma chefs stretches halfway across the world, and in Copenhagen there is an entire tier of restaurants, pubs, noodle shops and taquerias run by Noma alumni. As much as anybody in the world now, Redzepi owns the mantle: chef.
But Redzepi is almost maniacal about the need for reinvention. His MAD, an elevated annual food conference, may change themes, but it exists to answer the question, “What should a chef be?” Each of the season-long Noma pop-ups, for which he took his entire staff to immerse themselves in the food cultures of Tokyo Sydney, Australia then Tulum, Mexico, sometimes felt like an extended search for self. And while the original Noma, in an ancient former herring warehouse just on the far side of the Nyhavn Bridge, never quite felt stale, you could sense that Redzepi himself may have gotten a little bit tired of the sea buckthorn, fermented roses and over-wintered carrots that had become international tropes.
Is he happy in the new building, free of the old expectations? It seems like it, at least a little if you read between the lines. An extensive, multi-coursed take on a classic seafood plateau includes century-old mahogany clams a giant, lightly scored oyster served in its shell sea urchin roe studded with blanched, peeled pumpkin seeds and a scattering of crunchy dried sea cucumber insides garnished with a glistening raw sea cucumber the size of a rugby ball.
The chopped horse mussel cooked briefly with diced aromatics, was a mere 50 years old, its ancient shell bristling with barnacles and fossilized algae. Quick-blanched squid was sliced into fragile linguine, bathed in seaweed-infused butter, and somehow reassembled into what looked like a figurine of the Michelin Man. There was a lidded beeswax bowl, fashioned by the staff, filled with tiny sautéed sea snails a painstakingly dissected roast cod head and ice with sour cloudberries and candied pine cones before a vivid-green plankton cake.
If you have dined at Noma before, you will recognize resonances less a repetition of signature tropes than what are nearly literary allusions to Redzepi’s work. That plate of tiny clams may refer to both an early dish of mussels served on a plate of empty shells, and to a composition of tiny freshwater clams at Noma Tokyo. The high smack of the toasted sea cucumber gonads recalled an old dish of dried scallop and toasted grains. The server’s loving descriptions of the taste of the juice in a shrimp head or the flavor of kelp ice cream the wobbly texture of the meat just below a cod’s eye socket the faded, delicious odor of dried rose petals nudging the meatiness of tiny whelk — they are perhaps nonsense anywhere but here.
René Redzepi’s Copenhagen restaurant, once called the best in the world, reopens.
Nahm Tops Asia's 50 Best Restaurants
What goes up must come down, and sometimes vice versa—just look at S. Pellegrino Asia's 50 Best Restaurants.
Nahm, Australian chef David Thompson's Bangkok restaurant that serves cuisine based on Thai memorial-book recipes, nudged Les Creations de Narisawa in Tokyo from the top of the Asia's 50 Best Restaurants 2014 list, announced Monday night in Singapore. Last year, Nahm ranked No. 3 on the list, and its new position means Narisawa has dropped to second place.
"I actually placed bets that I would go down in the rankings, and I lost," said Mr. Thompson, speaking by phone from a chef's lunch Tuesday. "I was absolutely astonished and surprised. I think there were a lot of other restaurants in Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan and other parts of the region that are as good as ours if not better."
Molecular Indian restaurant Gaggan in Bangkok shot to No. 3 on the list, up seven spots from its 10th-place ranking last year. French restaurant Amber in Hong Kong retained its No. 4 position, and Nihonryori RyuGin in Tokyo came in at No. 5, down from No. 2.
The regional list, in its second year, is derived from the global S. Pellegrino World's 50 Best Restaurants list, released annually since its launch 12 years ago. Restaurants are voted on by more than 900 people across the world—an anonymous mix of chefs and restaurateurs, food writers and critics, and food experts or "well-traveled gastronomes," according to William Drew, group editor for Asia's 50 Best Restaurants. Voters are rotated annually, with about a third changed every year.
A Nordic Noel With Chef René Redzepi
Chef René Redzepi's Christmas table
LAST CHRISTMAS, I decided to treat myself to lunch. It wasn't a Christmas gift, per se—I don't celebrate Christmas. And it wasn't a small gift either. It was a pilgrimage to Copenhagen, for a meal at what had ranked for three years running at number one on Restaurant magazine's World's 50 Best Restaurants list: Noma.
I managed to secure a table. Then, with some hesitation, I emailed the chef, René Redzepi. I'd met him in New York a few months before, but I still felt shy about reaching out. His reply was prompt: "Hey, we are having Danish Christmas dinner on Sunday—you are welcome to join at our home."
I let out a whoop. How did I get so lucky? Excited as I was to be going to the restaurant, this was even better. Most food writers will tell you that, far more than a fine-dining experience, what we really crave is a good home-cooked meal.
The day of the dinner, I strolled under the Christmas lights of the Strøget, Copenhagen's main shopping thoroughfare, toward the cobblestone street where the Redzepis live, bearing gifts for René, his wife, Nadine, and their two young daughters, Arwen and Genta. I suspected our meal would be quite different from the fare at Noma. This is a chef who revolutionized Scandinavian food by creating a cuisine based on what grows locally—including moss, weeds and other foraged foodstuffs that weren't even considered food before he started to serve them (unless you happen to be a reindeer). Not the sort of ingredients one expects to find in a home kitchen—even a chef's.
When I arrived at the apartment, there was René, casually dressed in a button-down shirt and jeans, glass of wine in hand. With a warm "Welcome!" he led me to the dining room, where we took our places at a long table set with hand-thrown ceramics and crystal stemware. There were 16 of us in all. I sat next to René's twin brother, Kenneth, who'd brought his dog, Ludo, and across from Nadine's brother, Marcus, who wore a light-up bowtie. Suddenly, I heard a familiar tune: "Gangnam Style." René cranked up the volume, and Marcus got up and started to do the famous galloping dance move with 4-year-old Arwen while the rest of us cheered. The party had officially started.
Noma tops World’s 50 Best Restaurants List for second year
World's 50 Best Restaurants Awards has become a key international fixture in chef's calendars (we tell you why here). Just as you shouldn't expect to see chefs in their kitchens when Le Bocuse d'Or is going on in Lyons, similarly many of the best chefs in the world have been trawling the streets of London over the past few days.
The night before the awards, this posse of world class cooking talent ate at the hotter-than-hot Pollen Street Social, the day before the restaurant's official launch where the menu included Fowey oyster ice-cream with pearl branded, cod and smoked eel and silver dust. Last year they did the same with Nuno Mendes' almost-opened Viajante. Tonight they're off to eat out at a top secret location at a secret after hours dinner served up by The Young Turks James Lowe and Isaac McHale.
So to the awards themselves, ‘The list doesn’t claim to be 100% comprehensive or definitive,’ said Restaurant Magazine’s editor William Drew as he announced them at the Guildhall. ‘We see it as a survey of current tastes and a credible indicator of superb restaurants around the world.’
Well it wasn’t a great surprise to see that Noma had retained its top slot. Rene Redzepi’s Copenhagen restaurant was a hugely popular winner and Rene gave a suitably sweet speech bigging up his colleagues watching the awards online back in Denmark.
As for Britain, there was a 25% rise in restaurants in the Top 50 (yes we know that’s only an increase of one). Claude Bosi’s Hibiscus rose from 49 to 43 while Fergus Henderson saw St John rise from 43 to 41. The highest new entry was also a brand new British entry to the list - London’s The Ledbury. Brett Graham’s restaurant is constantly namechecked by the chefs Hot Dinners has interviewed over the past year or so, all of whom rave about the cooking there.
Unfortunately it wasn’t such a great night for Heston Blumenthal who saw The Fat Duck drop from third to fifth position.
Other key awards included One to Watch, which went to Stockholm’s Frantzen/Lindeberg which was described as an award for the restaurant most likely to break into the list in the future. That went to Stockholm’s Frantzen & Lindeberg a restaurant whose rise was described as ‘nothing short of meteoric.’ And the Lifetime Achievement award was presented to Juan Mari Arzak, chef proprietor of Arzak restaurant in San Sebastien, Spain who was given a standing ovation.
Finally, we’d love to have been a fly on the wall for the moment when Jay Rayner and David Chang’s eyes met across the crowded room at the Guildhall. The two haven’t met since their barbed exchange on Twitter last month. Did they kiss and make up? Who knows…
The 2011 World's 50 Best Restaurants
Read the Top 50 list plus all the UK restaurants in the Top 100.
The 10 Worst Online Reviews of the 10 Best Restaurants in the World
The 2014 World's 50 Best Restaurants list was released today, and, surprising <del>everyone</del> absolutely no one, Copenhagen's Noma was named the best in the business. Huge congratulations are in order for all of the restaurants on the list, but of course, we had to ask: Does everyone love these restaurants? Could the likes of Eleven Madison Park and Alinea ever ____ turn out dissatisfied diners? Well, because it seems everyone has an opinion (and more important, venues to air them), the answer is, sadly, yes. We consulted TripAdvisor —perhaps one of the, um, less-discerning crowdsourced review sites on the internet—for any grumbling about the list's top 10. Turns out, even the world's culinary darlings produce their fair share of disgruntled customers.
Here, for your reading pleasure, a brief sampling of the worst 1-star online reviews of the world's best restaurants (Hey, for the record, these do not reflect our personal opinions):
User Jets3tter747 thinks Noma has innovative food, but terrible attitude . "Went to Noma last sunday. We were told by Mr Rene Redzepi to "either eat or leave" at the start of our meal because we arrived 10 minutes late and one of us also left the table to take a phone call, disrupting the service.… I could hardly think of circumstances under which diners would deserve this kind of treatment in ANY restaurant, let alone at a place with Noma's standing."
__2. El Cellar de Can Roca
__How does user ebel feel about El Cellar de Can Roca? " Avoid ." He writes, "This restaurant does not deserve two stars. The food lacks balance, is poorly seasoned and the service is downright arrogant."
__3. Osteria Francescana
__User webbpage was " woefully disappointed " by Osteria Francescana. "We were really looking forward to our dinner - expectations were high but realistic. Without trying to sound arrogant, we are familar [sic] with top end restaurants and not unfairly measuring our experience against unequally rated restaurants. What a disappointment. Upon arrival, we were seated promptly in the unspectacular dining room. Lighting was very strong for the surroundings and better suited for a doctor's surgery."
4. Eleven Madison Park
Lucie T says that EMP is " Pompous & Pricey ." "What can I say. The expression 'trying too hard' springs to mind. We are no strangers to ɿine dining' and taster menus or michelin star restaurants. The waiters were arrogant & unhelpful. We had the tasting menu, and when they say 'tasting' they really mean you just get the most minuscule portions. This is to be expected perhaps, but when the first course is a glamourised single biscuit, another was grated carrots, you begin to feel cheated.…Unfortunately this was unforgettable for all the wrong reasons."
__5. Dinner by Heston Blumenthal
__Kiwi1971 warns diners at Dinner by Heston Blumenthal, don't eat the duck! "In the wee hours of the following morning my husband woke with intense stomach cramps and proceeded to eject what he ate at Dinner over the next few hours. He says he has never been so sick in all his life. When thinking back on the meal he is absolutely sure it was the duck that caused it. (Although without 'samples' it is impossible to say for sure it was the duck, both my children and i ate the same food as my husband the previous two days and we were not sick)."
__Steve K. says Mugaritz is "a two-star disappointment ." "During a recent, 2-week trip to Spain, my wife and I dined at several Michelin-starred restaurants, three of which were in San Sebastian. Mugaritz was a terrible disappointment. The kitchen seemed to try too hard to be "different" but the food was often too bland."
__Mauricio R. says D.O.M. is a pretentious joke . "I went to DOM twice. During my first time around, I felt that the place was extremely overrated. None of the plates served at the tasting menu were, in any way, remarkable. When you are paying 4 figures for a meal (with wine, 2 guests) you expect at least a few dishes to be memorable. Wine service is a joke. The waiters didn't really know what they were talking about."
__JB_MELB says that Arzak is poor service, clumsy bland dishes, not what it used to be . "From here the night just fell apart, The dessert we were served was like ashes in my mouth…Ultimately, if there was one thing that seemed to be amiss, it was no one, and I mean no one at Arzak appeared to be enjoying themselves. The reception, the floor staff and certainly no one at my table, certainly not up to the standard of 3 Michelin stars or a top 10 restaurant in San Pellegrino and if this were to continue like this they will be neither any time soon."
__User Judy N. thinks Alinea is overrated . "We are still laughing over the 'time sensitive' food. I started out by taking pics of the food by dish number 5 I was taking pics at us laughing at the food and trying to choke some of it down. We had a great time and thank God the money was not an issue for us. I would be livid if I had saved up for this jelly, slimed textured truffle fishy flavored food. "
__10. The Ledbury
__Prestonfood thinks The Ledbury was awful . "Over priced! Disgusting! The service was terrible! It was so bad. "