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Jul 7, 2006 07:38 PM

Top 50 restaurants in the World

I usually don't like 'best' lists but a previous topic about French cuisine got me thinking about its popularity and I still believe it is #1 over other cuisines when people want to dine out for celebrations, romance, vacations and the like.

Here's a link I found today that lists the 50 top restaurants:

Note that it states: "More countries than ever appeared on the list, but it was the French who conquered the globe with 10 restaurants on the list. (It should be noted that an astounding 24 entries out of the top 50 restaurants chosen serve French food.)"

I'm not stating that I don't enjoy Chinese, Japanese, Italian and other cuisines as well but I just believe French cooking techniques, their recipes, including desserts and wines are really supreme and have added to most 'fusion', Mediterrean/California style cuisine as we enjoy it today.

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  1. Interesting list. I noticed that El Bulli is listed as "World's Best." I just saw the Anthony Bourdain show on Chef Ferran Adria, and it made me think, after all the discussion on "world's best cuisine," that we're possibly seeing the creation of a new "cuisine" - one characterized more by scientific techniques than by ingredients and methods of preparation (which currently define the various national cuisines). Ferran Adria, Grant Achatz and Homaru Cantu (and maybe others I don't know about) are breaking such new ground that this new cuisine doesn't even yet have a name - not that I've heard, anyway (if there is one, please let me know!).

    2 Replies
    1. re: Akatonbo

      it's considered as molecular gastronomy, mais non? maybe that's not really a cuisine type but it's the way they describe themselves.

      i find this all an interesting debate... how much does innovation play into the greatness of any food? just because we're comfortable with it, does that make it less enjoyable? alternatively, does nostalgia really pull at our heart strings more to make us unnecessarily fond of a long lost favourite dish?

      1. re: Akatonbo

        I believe this cuisine of scientific techniques does have a name and it's referred to as "molecular gastronomy" and generally attributed to Hungarian physicist Nicholas Kurti who experimented with it years ago.

        Modern chefs that use this technique are renowned chef Ferran Adria of El Bulli, as you mentioned, and also popular New York chef Wylie Duchese of WD-50.

        Here is the link:

      2. Perhaps I missed it in the article, but there seems to be no list of qualifications that would make a restaurant "Best in the World."

        Excellent service? The whitest of tableclothes? Sorbet before the entree? Freshest ingredients? New dishes?

        I am not sure I can automatically buy into the belief that a restaurant is best in the world simply because a panel says so. Seeing the criteria used would help me understand why El Bulli is better than, say, a top restaurant in Los Angeles or Seattle or Pittsburgh or even my hometown of Phoenix.

        6 Replies
        1. re: Seth Chadwick

          It seems to be based more on theater than food. Personally I cosnider a $1.50 taco from an El Tonayense taco truck or a twenty-cent dan bing made by a street vendor in China to be more worthy of eating than the practical jokes created by the likes of Adria, Keller or Achatz.

          1. re: Gary Soup

            Gary, couldn't agree more. People, oftentimes wrongly, equate complicated with better. Therefore, French culinary technique is the best because it's the most complicated, the most time consuming, with the most processes. Completely and utterly wrong.

            There's much to love from all levels of food without having to rate them against each other.

            1. re: dippedberry

              Has either of you been to any of the restaurants on the list? Just curious. (Also love Tonayense.)

              1. re: dippedberry

                I also agree. All this obsession with foams and science and the latest tiny 1 tsp souffle and ice cream made of liver and and's too much like Louis XIV eating ortolans.

                Food and cooking are wonderful and satisfying, but I feel some of it has gotten just too precious.

                1. re: Gary Soup

                  OK - Im not aware of Achatz, and i gather what you are saying about Adria, BUT what kind of "practical jokes" does Keller practice?? Please, would like to know.

              2. This list, as with last year's list and the year before, can't be taken seriously. Restaurant Magazine is based in Britain, polls British/European 'critics' and therefore has a distorted Anglo/Western bent. Honestly, no Far Eastern choices (oh excuse me, an Australian place won for all of Asia -- whoopee!), two from Africa (of course they're both French and in South Africa), one from India (does this count for Britain too?), and only one from Latin America (squeaks by as #50!). It's nice to know that white people can cook, but come on! Try not to give lists of this nature any legitimacy.

                As with the ridiculous "Best Cuisine" thread, to rate in this manner, with no regard to differences in culture, cooking style, personal taste, etc. does no service to an enlightened perspective on food and its vast diversity.

                PS. The inclusion of Chez Panisse and Gramercy Tavern among the top 8 in the US should give people an idea of how outdated the opinions of those polled are.

                4 Replies
                1. re: dippedberry

                  I totally agreed with dippedberry's post. Also don't equate countries with the "best" restaurants with having the best food. It is not always the case.

                  1. re: PBSF

                    Actually, my point is that these are not the "best" restaurants. Or they are to only a small segment of British/European food people who subscribe to a British trade magazine. It's like calling the US baseball finals the World Series, even though most of the world doesn't participate, and when they do (as in the recent World Baseball Classic), the US gets their butts handed to them in the opening rounds.

                    This Best Restaurant list worked from a stacked deck.

                  2. re: dippedberry

                    Excellent analysis, dippedberry. I am really beside myself when I read "Best of ... " lists because ultimately, they are meaningless.

                    I am also suspect about the biases of the judges. I doubt they combed the continent of Africa or swept into a small village that rests in the Austrailian Outback.

                    It is evident from the list that unless you are going to drop serious money and are willing to get all giddy over bacon and egg sorbet (that doesn't even sound appetizing to me!), your restaurant choices won't be even considered for Best Restaurant in the World.

                    Can anyone tell me exactly why a place like the French Laundry is automatically a contender for Best while Pepe's Taco Villa in Phoenix is not?

                    Oh, that's right. Pepe's doesn't have snail porridge.

                    1. re: Seth Chadwick

                      No! And they don't even have snail porridge TACOS! How could one consider a place such as this?

                  3. Two Thomas Keller restos on the list? That's room for one less out of 50 in the entire world. Suspect list.

                    1. L'Auberge de L'Ille in Alsace. In addition to the perfect food and impeccable service, you can have your aperitif outside under a weeping willow, watching swans swimming on the river. This gem is worth a long detour. My husband and I have been going back to this restaurant ever since we first ate there twenty-five years ago. Last year we took our two teen-aged children for the first time. Even though they had eaten at some of the top resaurants here in the States, they were over-whelmed. The total experience is bliss.