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best restaurant in Europe?

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  • Michael Stacey Apr 13, 2001 09:52 PM
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This may seem like a silly question. If, only cause it's pretty broad. For someone who's spent a lot of time eating their way around Europe. What's the best restaurant in the continent? I mean, if you could only eat at one European (maybe michelin 3-starred) restaurant, which one would it be?

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    Michael Lewis

    An impossible task. You should get a lot of replies for this one.
    Eating in a restaurant is a two way experience. You contibute something very important, your taste and experience. Like a book, without a reader nothing happens. Michelin Stars etc. really only highlight consensus between 'experienced' diners. Therefore, beer and sausages at 'Dieter's Saurkraut Cellar' might be the definitive dining moment for some, whereas for jaded snobs like myself it has to be 'haute', the kind of thing offered by some Michelin starred establishments.
    So if in Europe you could only eat in one place (don't worry about Britain) perhaps that place should be El Bulli or Michel Bras. These are the vanguard restaurants and as such are the most attractive, most influential, and most important in making sense of the peculiar things happening in the restaurant world. But if you want more personal recommendations allow me to suggest 'Zuberoa' in Oiartzun, Gipuzcoa, Northern Spain. Run by the Arbelaitz brothers in their six-hundred year old farmhouse it is for me everything that a fine restaurant should be. Hilario Arbelaitz, the chef, ploughs his own furrow with a Basque cuisine that is impossible to pigeonhole. Dishes simple enough to allow the extraordinary quality of the ingredients to show through, whilst still being surprising, different and delicious. If you come here expecting plastic tubes of caviar, pig's ear candy floss, and other strange processes that obfuscate the original nature of the food you will be disappointed. Hilario Arbelaitz is chef enough not be influenced by the excessive gimmicks so many of his contemperaries are resorting to these days. Like Pierre Koffman, Arbelaitz is modest and brave, brave enough to look for perfection in simple things where flaws can't be hidden by plethoric garnishing. The real local seasonal ingredients are prepared according to an imperative that exists within them, and are not manipulated after a spurious interpretation of some French philosopher. Introspection is the key to Zuberoa, making the best with what you have instead of going on a manic novelty hunt where outlandishness ousts quality.

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    1. re: Michael Lewis

      Last May we did a driving/eating trip in France, Belgium and Germany. We ate in the following 3-stars: Buerheisel in Strassbourg, Lameloise in Chagny, Georges Blanc in Vonnas, Gerard Boyer in Rhiems, Comme Chez Soi in Brusssels and Dieter Mueller in a little town just outside of Cologne. Hands down Dieter Mueller was the best. Amazing and unforgettable. Comme Chez Soi was very disappointing. Alain Chapel in Mionnay near Lyons is a two-star and it was extremely wonderful. But at this point I'd have to say Dieter Mueller is the best restaurant in Europe.