Friday, April 30, 2004

And the Dinner Winner Is...

When results came in for the 50 best restaurants in the world, French restaurants, not surprisingly, dominated the top 10 (four of them, five if you include Monaco). But none of those was among the top three eateries, in this event run by Restaurant magazine and decided by an international panel of restaurateurs, chefs, critics, and journalists.

And first prize went to a — choke — Yankee. While second place went to — oh Seigneur! — a Limey. In fact, London restaurants dominated this year's list of top 50 restaurants. Finally, no French-speaking country won in the individual award category. (I got what follows in an email without attribution, so all I know is it's from British magazine; if any reader has any clues, kindly forward them to me.)

British cuisine is celebrated as Fat Duck
brings home the bacon (and egg ice-cream)
By Cahal Milmo and Andrew Johnson (21 April 2004)

When it comes to finding the best cuisine in Europe, many gourmets will head for the hills of Tuscany or the boulevards of Paris. But, as of today, the correct route is to turn off the M4 at junction eight and seek out a 450-year-old former pub run by a chef named after a motorway service station.

Heston Blumenthal, the proprietor of the Fat Duck restaurant in the Berkshire village of Bray, which has become synonymous with such gustatory delights as bacon and egg ice-cream and cauliflower with chocolate, is now the owner of the best eaterie on the continent.

The restaurant, which is already the holder of the most rapidly achieved three Michelin stars in British history, saw off competition from such temples to gastronomy as El Bulli in Spain and L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon in Paris to collect the award at a ceremony in London last night. It was only beaten to the title of the world's best restaurant by the American incumbent, French Laundry, in California's Napa Valley.

The top 10 for the award, run by Restaurant magazine and decided by an international panel of restaurateurs, chefs, critics and journalists, contains two other UK restaurants — Gordon Ramsay (8th) and Nobu (7th), both in London. These make Britain second only to France, which has four listed. …

Commentators will draw parallels between the philosophy of Blumenthal and that of his rival for the number one spot in global gastronomy, Thomas Keller, who opened the French Laundry in the Californian countryside in 1993. Just as his British counterpart pays obsessive attention to the constituent parts of his ingredients and the physics of cooking, so too does Keller. …

Thom Hetherington, the marketing director for Restaurant magazine, said yesterday: "It's great to see that such a variety of British restaurants made the list." Experts also pointed to the nation's growing strength in depth. Eleven of the top 50 restaurants are in Britain.


1: French Laundry, Yountville, California
2. The Fat Duck, Bray, Berkshire
3. El Bulli, Montjoi, Spain
4. L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon, Paris
5. Pierre Gagnaire, Paris
6. Guy Savoy, Paris
7. Nobu, London
8. Restaurant Gordon Ramsay, London
9. Michel Bras, Laguiole, France
10. Louis XV, Monaco

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