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.

#3 – Pierre Gagnaire (Paris) – Best Meal of My Life and
Pierre Gagnaire (Paris) – Truffles and Value – I have eaten the best meal of my life at this restaurant.

#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.

- chuck

  • Paul

    Were are the 3* Japanese Restaurants and what the hell Nobu London is doing on that list is beyond me, and as for St John it is a great restaurant but it should not be in the top 50 and as for Gordon F*****G Ramsay, Hibiscus, The Square and mabey even Pied A Terre all serve better food in London than he does at Royal Hospital Road, P.S an English restaurant that should be on that list is Simon Rogan’s L’ Enclume because i enjoyed my meal there more than i did at the Fat Duck and it only has 1* Michelin though it should have 2* IMO

  • david a carson

    i truly enjoy your site and what you do….may i enquire as to your background in the world of cuisine and how you have had the ability to dine all over the world with such luxury and indulgence…..what do you do….how do you do it?

  • Matt

    It’s a long trek, but I’d like to see your opinion of Tetsuya’s one day.

  • Alexander

    Love ur site ! keep up the great work ! please consider coming to Sweden one day, please.

  • cher

    not sure if you’ve heard but there’s a new restaurant guide that’s far more democratic and it’s going to be published later this year. Known as The Miele Guide, it is the first truly independent restaurant guide in Asia. Time for Asia to shine I say :) check out the website at to see how it works!