World’s 50 Best Restaurants
The annual Restaurant magazine’s 50 World’s Best Restaurants list was released last week. I’m certain the list is littered with a few controversial picks to generate buzz for the magazine. It’s not a horrible list but it’s not great either; nonetheless, lists of all sorts are a guilty pleasure of mine and it’s always fun to critique any sort of Best Of list.
I’ve been to approximately 20% of the restaurants in their Top 100 list. I’ll post some comments for each restaurant with links to my reviews for anyone that is interested. Some of the reviews, from the old days, are quite embarrassing for their petulance and/or brevity.
#1 – El Bulli (Roses, Spain) – The Mad Scientist – The safe pick for such a list, it’s hard to argue there is a more influential chef in our times.
#2 – Fat Duck (Maidenhead, UK) – Master of Production – Another safe pick that is certainly deserving.
#4 – Mugartiz (Errenteria, Spain) – A Beautiful Meal – Certainly a unique restaurant but probably placed a bit too high.
#5 – French Laundry (Yountville, CA) – Calculated Cuisine – Another safe pick and i’d argue it’s placed too high.
#7 – Michel Bras (Laguiole, France) – Near Perfection – I haven’t been in awhile but I’d rank it in the top 5 for perfect ingredients.
#8 – Arzak (San Sebastian, Spain) – Can the Daughter be King? – My meal left a lot to be desired.
#11 -L’Astrance (Paris) – Second Chances for Three Stars – Everyone, including people whose palettes I certainly respect, seems to be in love with this place – not me.
#17 – Jean Georges (NYC) – Bombastic Fantastic – Seems perfectly placed.
#18 – Alain Ducasse (Paris) – Time for a New King – My meal felt like the restaurant was on automatic.
#20 – Le Bernardin (NY) – A Michelin One Star Meal – I believe it was once deserving of this spot but Eric Ripert is spreading himself pretty thin these days.
#25 – Troisgros (Roanne, France) – Jeckyll & Hyde – It’s a favorite of many people, and probably deserving of a higher rank, but my meal was disappointing.
#26 – Can Roca (Girona, Spain) – The Master Revealed – Reasonably placed
#30 – Nobu (London, UK) – This is Fish? – This doesn’t belong on a list of the top 3000 restaurants in the world.
#44 – Etxebarri (Axpe, Spain) – Legendary Expectations – A surprising addition, certainly worthwhile, go before it loses its charm.
#45 – Les Ambassadeurs (Paris) – The Best Truffles for Last – Excellent ingredients but the food can be a bit narcissist.
#46 – L’Arpege (Paris) – Purity of Flavor – A huge injustice since this restaurant should be in the top 5.
#54 – Masa (NYC) – My Best Sushi Meal – Last year, I would have agreed with this position but I’d move it higher after my last meal.
#63 – WD-50 (NY) – Mad Scientist – Seems like a decent position for this restaurant of hits… and misses.
#66 – El Poblet (Denia, Spain) – A Midsummer Night’s Dream – Another egregious mis-ranking; this restaurant would make it into my Top 5.
#82 – Pic (Valence, France) – The Empress Has No Clothes – I would not rank this restaurant.
#84 – Ledoyen (Paris) – The Harmony of Modernism – Another egregious mis-ranking; this restaurant would make it into my Top 10.
#85 – L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon (NYC) – Midtown Michelin Meal – About right, good and competent, but nothing too special.
As with any such list, there will be egregious omissions and some disagreements. There are three that instantly come to mind, including America’s two best restaurants.
Manresa (Los Gatos, CA) – The Spoils of Winter – The best restaurant in America, on the same level as French Laundry, Per Se, and Jean Georges.
Urasawa (LA) – Better than Ever with Real Kobe – The other best restaurant in America, depending on my mood.
And, finally, the complete omission of Japan certainly should raise a few questions as to the validity of their proposed list of the world’s best restaurants.
Next week – the food reviews should return.