World's top 50 restaurants

May 2009

It’s run every year by San Pellegrino mineral water (a company owned by Nestlé) and purports to be a list of the world’s best restaurants. This year, Tetsuya and Quay made it in at numbers 17 and 46 respectively. Now, without taking away from Tetsuya Wakuda or Peter Gilmore’s achievement in getting there, what is it really all about? Points to ponder…

Of the two Japanese restaurants on the list (and discounting Tetsuya’s, who bills himself as Japanese/French), one is Nobu, London, and the other, in Tokyo, Les Creations de Narisawa.

I’ve never been able to take Nobu seriously since I saw a recipe from the restaurant using New Zealand green-lipped mussels, which are fine in New Zealand but are frozen to leave there. And as good a chef as Yoshihiro Narisawa is, having trained in France, Switzerland and Italy, with signature dishes including foie gras with strawberries and lobster with tomato and vanilla, he sounds about as Japanese as Pierre Gagnaire. Indeed, cast your eye over the list (below) and you could come to the conclusion that it’s not about the best food but the most fashionable.

What good do these lists really do? At least they left Gordon Ramsay off, so they can’t be all bad.

San Pellegrino top 50 restaurants in the world 2009

1. El Bulli, Roses, Spain (Best in Europe)
2. The Fat Duck, UK
3. Noma, Denmark (Best in Scandinavia)
4. Mugaritz, Spain (Chef's Choice)
5. El Celler de Can Roca, Spain
6. per se, New York, USA (Best in the Americas)
7. Bras, Laguiole, France
8. Arzak, Spain
9. Pierre Gagnaire, France
10. Alinea, USA
11. L'Astrance, France
12. The French Laundry, USA
13. Osteria Francescana, Italy
14. St John, London, UK
15. Le Bernardin, USA
16. Restaurant de l’Hotel de Ville, Switzerland
17. Tetsuya’s, Australia (Best in Australasia)
18. L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon, France
19. Jean-Georges, USA
20. Les Creations de Narisawa, Japan
21. Chez Dominique, Finland
22. Ristorante Cracco, Italy
23. Die Schwarzwaldstube, Germany
24. D.O.M., Brazil
25. Vendome, Germany
26. Hof van Cleve, Belgium
27. Masa, USA
28. Gambero Rosso, Italy
29. Oud Sluis, Sluis, Netherlands
30. Steirereck, Sluis, Austria
31. Momofuku Ssam Bar, USA
32. Oaxen Skaergaardskrog, Sweden
33. Martin Berastagui, Spain
34. Nobu, UK
35. Mirazur, France
36. Hakkasan, UK
37. Le Quartier Francais, South Africa
38. La Colombe, South Africa
39. Asador Etxebarri, Spain
40. Le Chateaubriand, France
41. Daniel, USA
42. Combal Zero, Italy
43. Le Louis XV, France
44. Tantris, Germany
45. Iggy’s, Singapore
46. Quay, Australia
47. Les Ambassadeurs, France
48. Dal Pescatore, Italy
49. Le Calandre, Italy

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