The world’s 50 best restaurants 2014 were announced yesterday with Noma in Denmark coming in at #1 again. Interestingly the US had the most restaurants in the top 50 with 8, followed by Spain just under with 7. Unfortunately Australia only had 1 on the list – Attica in Ripponlea – but this isn’t necessarily bad – it gives us all the more reason to travel.
Food is a glorious thing and for some people it dictates their whole itinerary. My mother is a prime example – she refuses to travel to any country where the food is not known to be good. This has meant she has returned to France over 15 times! Unfortunately though, it also means she misses out on some of the most delicious cuisine that the world has on offer. How often have you come across some tiny little hole in the wall in a random country that serves up delectable dishes? For example in Bolivia, a destination you would never associate with food, let alone good food has some of the best street food I’ve ever tasted. Juicy saltenas, a form of the empanada but filled with piping hot soup as well as the filling would have to be my favourite snack in the entire world.
So how do you choose where to go based on your love of food? Foodie tours are a great start and a really nice way to really immerse yourself in a destination. Not only will you eat some amazing meals but your guide will no doubt have very intimate knowledge of the local culture. And food says so much about a culture: How is it served? Platters for all to share or separately like here in Australia; Is the main meal of the day at midday or in the evening? Do they dine out for most meals because it’s cheap and accessible or is their home cooking the pride and joy of the family?
You could base your next holiday around eating at the worlds best restaurants featured on this list. Maybe choose a region and aim to eat at one or two from the top 10 in a few different countries. It certainly wouldn’t be a bad way to holiday! Sometimes though, when you’re expecting the best, things don’t always live up to expectations, especially if you’re paying a hefty price tag not only for the meal but for the journey there as well. Sometimes it’s the local brasserie with their one plat du jour that floats your boat. I’ve been told by someone in the know about a little corner store in Barcelona that simply has two tables out the back and serves up some of the best food in town.
Last year and very last minute, I ended up dining at Chateaubriand in Paris, this year’s #27 and last year’s #8. They don’t take bookings for their second dinner sitting so we ended up queuing outside for about an hour and a half, and another hour and a half waiting at the bar. By the time we ate it was about 11pm. The waiter was so incredibly rude (we thought this was so typically French that we actually enjoyed it) but by the end of the meal he had turned friendly and joined us for a fabulous chat. The food, well the food was just so experimental that we couldn’t really say we loved it, but loved the experience of it. We were eating curious things like the hair that surrounds corncobs and a sauce made of chicken hearts and squid ink.
It’s these kind of experiences that wake us from the daily monotony of the 14 or so dishes we eat regularly. And this is why we travel, to explore new things and come alive with each of our senses. Starting with food is a great way to get to know a place, after all – you need to eat 3 times a day.
Nicola Billens is an experienced traveller, having visited all the continents (except Antarctica) over the last 20 years. She’s lived in France, England, Austria and New Zealand and spent many years and many dollars experiencing what this wonderful world has to offer.
By the way, here is the top 50 in case you missed it.
No.1 NOMA COPENHAGEN, DENMARK
No.2 EL CELLER DE CAN ROCA GIRONA, SPAIN
No.3 OSTERIA FRANCESCANA MODENA, ITALY
No.4 ELEVEN MADISON PARK NEW YORK, USA
No.5 DINNER BY HESTON BLUMENTHAL LONDON, UK
No.6 MUGARITZ SAN SEBASTIÁN, SPAIN
No.7 D.O.M SÁO PAULO, BRAZIL
No.8 ARZAK SAN SEBASTIÁN, SPAIN
No.9 ALINEA CHICAGO, USA
No.10 THE LEDBURY LONDON, UK
No.11 MIRAZUR MENTON, FRANCE
No.12 VENDÔME BERGISCH GLADBACH, GERMANY
No.13 NAHM BANGKOK, THAILAND
No.14 NARISAWA TOKYO, JAPAN
No.15 CENTRAL LIMA, PERU
No.16 STEIRERECK VIENNA, AUSTRIA
No.17 GAGGAN BANGKOK, THAILAND
No.18 ASTRID Y GASTÓN LIMA, PERU
No.19 FÄVIKEN JÄRPEN, SWEDEN
No.20 PUJOL MEXICO CITY, MEXICO
No.21 LE BERNARDIN NEW YORK, USA
No.22 VILA JOYA ALBUFEIRA, PORTUGAL
No.23 RESTAURANT FRANTZÉN STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN
No.24 AMBER HONG KONG, CHINA
No.25 L’ARPÉGE PARIS, FRANCE
No.26 AZURMENDI LARRABETZU, SPAIN
No.27 LE CHATEAUBRIAND PARIS, FRANCE
No.28 AQUA WOLFSBURG, GERMANY
No.29 DE LIBRIJE ZWOLLE, NETHERLANDS
No.30 PER SE NEW YORK, USA
No.31 L’ATELIER SAINT-GERMAIN DE JOËL ROBUCHON PARIS, FRANCE
No.32 ATTICA MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA
No.33 NIHONRYORI RYUGIN TOKYO, JAPAN
No.34 ASADOR ETXEBARRI ATXONDO, SPAIN
No.35 MARTÍN BERASATEGUI SAN SEBASTIÁN, SPAIN
No.36 MANI SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL
No.37 RESTAURANT ANDRE SINGAPORE
No.38 L’ASTRANCE PARIS, FRANCE
No.39 PIAZZA DUOMO ALBA, ITALY
No.40 DANIEL NEW YORK, USA
No.41 QUIQUE DACOSTA DÉNIA, SPAIN
No.42 GERANIUM COPENHAGEN, DENMARK
No.43 SCHLOSS SCHAUENSTEIN FÜRSTENAU, SWITZERLAND
No.44 THE FRENCH LAUNDRY YOUNTVILLE, USA
No.45 HOF VAN CLEVE KRUISHOUTEM, BELGIUM
No.46 LE CALANDRE RUBANO, ITALY
No.47 THE FAT DUCK BRAY, UK
No. 48 THE TEST KITCHEN CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA
No. 49 COI SAN FRANCISCO, USA
No. 50 WAKU GHIN SINGAPORE