Ready to splurge? Looking for the perfect place for a very special occasion? Michelin stars are a great indication of an extraordinary restaurant that will host an unforgettable evening. We’ve listed a few ideas –the very best restaurants of the world!
What are the best restaurants in the world? Most of you probably know about Michelin stars and how they are awarded to only the crème de la crème of restaurants around the world. Michelin has not achieved global coverage yet though, and so there are also some amazing restaurants that have not been rated yet despite probably being deserving of a star or more. Another reputable list of restaurants deserving of a detour is produced by the British magazine Restaurant – The World’s 50 Best Restaurants. Because of our love for exceptional food and out of this world dining experiences, we thought we’d give you a head start planning your next special occasion, with a list of some of the best restaurants around the world, Michelin starred or otherwise rated.
As a bit of backdrop, let’s talk about how restaurants achieve Michelin star status and what you should expect from an evening at a restaurant that has been awarded one or more stars or has ended up on a reputable list.
Depending on the rating agency, the experience is rated from entrance to exit or based solely on the food. In the case of Michelin, venues are visited by inspectors who are anonymous, to the extent that in most cases their own families are not aware of their employment. In addition, they are strictly forbidden from talking to journalists. No consumer reviews are taken into account when determining the award of stars, as is similar to a few other reputable lists of the best restaurants around the world. For The World’s 50 Best Restaurants list, a group of Chefs, professional restaurant critics and restaurateurs are consulted. The restaurant never pays for the review, so the decisions are un-conflicted and based purely on the experience.
Michelin stars, supposedly, focus solely on food. This includes quality of the ingredients, proven mastery of culinary techniques, consistency in the quality of cooking, as well as character or distinguishing features of the cuisine. You can’t convince me though, that if everything else that evening goes extremely well, it doesn’t help in getting a star or perfect rating. And when I say everything, I mean from the moment someone asks to take your coat, checks your reservation (maybe they don’t even need to check!), asks whether you would like an aperitif and suggests something in tune with the time of day, year and something special, serves a first amuse (a little bite to get the palate awakened) to suggesting perfect wine pairings with your dishes, pacing the serving of your dishes perfectly, explaining just enough about the dishes and wine to pique your interest to the moment you pay the bill, enjoy some tea or coffee with extraordinary petit fours and waltz out in a ruse of amazement and magic. We didn’t even mention the décor, the table setting, and the toilets.
Let’s get down to business. We’ll give you some suggestions, some of the best restaurants in the world, including those with Michelin stars, so that you can start planning a trip, or confirm your dining itinerary!
Bou – Mallorca, Spain Bou is a Mallorca fixture, although it has recently changed locations. It has held a Michelin star since 2004 for Chef Tomeu Caldentey’s imaginative cooking, often around a regional theme and using regionally sourced ingredients in surprising combinations. Also, it’s not a standard sit down and be served type of experience. Only 12 diners are included, and you sit around the live kitchen where you are given small bites to try while watching the Chef prepare the next dish with modern techniques.
L’Arpege – Paris, France Famed for switching from a more traditional French cuisine to vegetarian cooking after a burn out, Chef Alain Passard has maintained his 3 Michelin stars and has kept dazzling reviewers and foodies from all over the world. He does none of the merchandising and cooking shows his colleagues have gotten into, and instead owns several farms that deliver the varied produce that he uses in his kitchen. The kitchen he cooks in every single day. The produce arrives in the morning, he checks and smells it, and then decides what the menu for the day will be. And he has in the last few years added small pieces of fish and meat back into the menu.
Osteria Francescana – Modena, Italy Probably the world’s best Italian restaurants, holder of 3 Michelin stars since 2012 and considered one of the best restaurants in Europe, Osteria Francescana is run by Chef Bottura, who, surprisingly, studied law. His cooking is experimental, so expect strange twists such as risotto with citrus notes and foie gras lollypops. It is not for the faint hearted, most dishes will not melt on your tongue, but they will evoke pictures of memories that the Chef is trying to re-create.
Geranium – Copenhagen, Denmark Having earned its third Michelin star in 2016, Geranium is set for a bright future. Located at a stadium, the restaurant has a surprisingly nice view over a park and lake. Chef Rasmus uses mainly vegetables in his cooking, with a bit of seafood and an occasional hint of meat. Using different textures such as gels and dried ingredients, combined with injecting and infusing flavours into existing produce makes for an unexpected twist of tastes.
De Librije – Zwolle, The Netherlands Who would have thought that in small the Netherlands, charismatic Chef Jonnie Boer and his wife would accumulate 3 Michelin stars? Using regional produce in imaginative ways, and with a few spectacular twists – such as plating a dish on your hand, and cooking beef on a hot stone at the table, the restaurant brings different flavours in interesting combinations and textures to your tongue. Throw in more culinary tricks such as having chocolate look like a clove and jelly looking like a pod.
The Clove Club – London, UK The Clove Club has one Michelin star, and has something a lot of the more formal Michelin starred venues have not yet achieved – a hopping bar with mind blowing cocktails and lovely small plates. Don’t let the party vibe at the bar fool you – the restaurant’s tasting menu is subtle and technically complicated, set in a sleek and modern restaurant through the back of the bar. Reviewers also rave about the wine pairing so don’t hold back.
Andre – Singapore A two Michelin star gem in Asia, Taiwanese Chef Andre serves French cuisine, but with a very modern twist. He lives and cooks by an 8 point philosophy: salt, texture, memory, pure, terroir, south, artisan and unique after having studied and worked in French cuisine for most of his life. The 8 points come through in an 8-dish tasting menu, the only menu available at the restaurant. As with many modern chefs, Andre combines ingredients that normally would not work together (grain puffs and squid noodles) to bring an adventure to your plate.
Amber – Hong Kong Proud holder of 2 Michelin stars, Amber serves French cuisine at the Landmark Mandarin Oriental, a Hong Kong institution. As is common in today’s modern cooking, different textures are used to bring out flavours in a new way, such as jelly, but at the same time the kitchen showcases very traditional cooking with consommé’s, confits and purees. Amber is known for its spectacular wine collection, and wine pairing is a must when going for the tasting menu.
Narisawa – Tokyo, Japan Japan is the country with the most Michelin stars in the world. Norisawa holds 2 Michelin stars and is considered one of the best restaurants in Asia. It’s a small restaurant with only 8 tables and an open kitchen. The tasting menu, which is the only menu there is, is a mix of long standing signature dishes of Chef Narisawa and new dishes. One of the most famous dishes on the menu is the live bread – served at the start it rises during the first few courses and is then baked at your table on a hot stone to warm perfection, served with a silty butter. Other dishes showcase ingredients from different parts of Japan, and of different origins – herbs from the mountains as well as seaweed are used throughout.
Eleven Madison Park – New York, US High on a lot of lists and proudly holding 3 Michelin stars, Eleven Madison Park serves contemporary American cuisine with regionally sourced ingredients in one multi-course set menu. The restaurant is currently closed for renovations but will re-open in the fall and is rumoured to start taking reservations again soon. The serving style is a bit, well, quirky, with talk of New York history as a lead-in to the dish to be served and a few gaffes here and there. But it also makes it less formal than a lot of Michelin star venues.
Alinea – Chicago, US Chef Grant Achatz of Alinea earned his third Michelin star in 2011, but is still considered one of America’s best restaurants. Split into a “salon”, which serves a slightly smaller number of dishes in a tasting menu, at lower cost and the “gallery”, which serves the full tasting menu at a higher price, Alinea is known for the entertainment that is paired with fabulous cooking. Oh and there’s a Chef’s Table of course. Entertainment comes in the form of light effects, dry ice and smells accompanying the food through for instance steam. One course is served in the kitchen itself, accompanied by a cocktail and the tiles on the wall are eventually used for a live dessert that resembles the making of a Pollock painting.
Saison – San Fransisco, US Saison has 3 Michelin stars and is really worth a visit if you’re on this side of the States. It has a distinctly different vibe, set in a warehouse, tables without tablecloths, and Chefs doing most of the serving whilst the waiters deal more with cleaning up and drinks. It makes for a more casual and laid back atmosphere which is a nice change from the more formal style dining you expect at this level of cooking. Produce comes from the restaurant’s own farm, and the menu consists of a shorter and longer tasting menu. Expect lots of seafood and silty flavours and more fruity desserts rather than the heavier chocolate and peanut butter type combinations you see a lot at the moment.
Central – Lima, Peru Peru is a great example of a country currently not covered by Michelin, yet holding some culinary gems. Central is probably one of the most famous ones at the moment, number 5 on the World’s 50 Best list. They serve a set menu consisting of 17 courses (if you’re in a hurry you can negotiate down to 8), which aims to showcase the different regions and climates, and respective ingredients of Peru. The first few dishes are bite size, more like appetizers, whilst the middle section contains slightly larger dishes which are mains. People rave about the new flavours that they experience, that can’t be described in words we use every day to describe normal flavours.
D.O.M. – Sao Paolo, Brazil Holder of 2 Michelin stars, Chef Alex Atala showcases Brazilian unknown ingredients using traditional French and Italian techniques. The dishes are a bit more heavy than some other modern restaurants, as Brazilian ingredients include sweet potato, cheeses, cassava, prawns, scallops and of course steak. Nonetheless, Atala’s cooking has been described as melt-in-your-mouth and sensuous. A recently introduced vegetarian tasting menu gives a lighter option.
If you don’t seem to be travelling anywhere soon but still want to splash out for a special evening, there’s a few venues in Dubai that are worth a splurge as well. Michelin Guide does not currently cover the UAE, but of course the city has its share of Chefs that have earned their Michelin stars elsewhere.
Pierchic – Al Qasr Pierchic has everything for a romantic evening: a beautiful serene setting overlooking the ocean, fresh seafood and an expert Chef who has trained with some of the best, bringing you a refined and balanced set of dishes from amuse to petit fours.
Rhodes W1 – Grosvenor House The restaurant may not have Michelin stars but the Chef has certainly earned his stars (and stripes!). The menu is an imaginative combination of French and English cooking and uses quality produce from Europe, accompanied by stunning wines.
Traiteur – Park Hyatt We are anxiously awaiting Traiteur’s re-opening this fall, as sometimes all you want is some classic, old-world, wonderful French cuisine. Don’t expect creative dishes and imaginative use of vegetables and textures. Instead, expect expertly grilled meats and fishes, accompanied by perfect sides such as Hollandaise sauce and velvety puree. And of course a wonderful cheese plate and rich and decadent desserts.
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