Design Contract present The World’s Best Restaurants Guide for 2014. We have packed with details on the greatest restaurants to inspire both commercial architects and interior designers as well as high cuisine lovers!
El Celler de Can Roca, Spain
El Celler de Can Roca is at heart a local family-owned restaurant rooted in the fiercely independent state of Catalonia. But at the same time, it has featured on this list for almost a decade – reaching the vaunted number one spot last year – and secured a global reputation for its gastronomic prowess.
Guests entering El Celler de Can Roca immediately find themselves enveloped into a world of genuine hospitality. The 14-course culinary experience not only sees Catalan ingredients cooked with supreme precision, but that also stimulates diners’ senses, emotions and memories – whether via an evocative smell, an explosion of flavour or a visual trick. Some dishes are elaborate, such as a salad of sea anemone, razor-clam, cucumber and seaweed in escabèche, others are more straightforward; but each is beautifully balanced.
The food is matched with a mesmerising array of wines and Sherries, largely but not exclusively drawn from the Spanish peninsula. Diners in the 55-seat dining room will look into a triangular glass-walled garden in its centre, as the engaging but unobtrusive service continues serenely around them.
Eleven Madison Park, New York
You’d be excused for thinking that a fine-dining restaurant housed in New York’s Credit Suisse building would be something of a dour affair. After all, global financial services and food don’t make for obvious bedfellows. But at Eleven Madison Park, chef Daniel Humm and co-owner Will Guidara’s sleek Art Deco restaurant, the experience is anything but dull.
Given the grandeur of the spacious dining room – its huge floor-to-ceiling windows and wooden floors are an imposing backdrop – this fun and fine dining is all the more welcome. It’s an approach that makes this the leading restaurant in North America, and which is now being mimicked in other top-end dining rooms around the world. Humm and Guidara can revel in the fact that at Eleven Madison Park, you saw it first.
Dinner by Heston Blumenthal, London
It may have launched as The Fat Duck’s young townie cousin but, since opening in 2011, Dinner by Heston Blumenthal has rapidly grown up to become widely celebrated in its own right. Signature dishes including Meat Fruit and Tipsy Cake with spit-roast pineapple have already gained iconic status around the world and Dinner continues to wow its patrons with ever-evolving creations.
Headed up by Blumenthal’s right-hand man, Ashley Palmer-Watts, the restaurant at the Mandarin Oriental hotel in London’s Knightsbridge is all about recreating history – British culinary history to be exact. Recipes from as far back as the 1300s are given a 21st-century makeover with contemporary ingredients and new-age cooking techniques, resulting in a menu that takes diners on a journey full of wonder and discovery. What may seem simple on the outside is carefully planned and cleverly constructed behind the scenes. A case in point is the Bohemian Cake, which takes its historical connection from Mrs. AB Marshall’s Larger Cookery Book of Extra Recipes from 1891. What once was a simple chocolate lemon cake has been reinvented as a modern-day dessert comprising yuzu-soaked chocolate sponge encased in grapefruit jam and chocolate mousse, flecked with chocolate and served with honey ice cream. Dinner is not about delicate combinations or table theatrics, but gutsy dishes that deliver a taste sensation with lasting impact.
D.O.M., Sao Paulo
Before Alex Atala opened D.O.M. – Deo Optimus Maximus – which, for the benefit of any non-Latin speakers, means ‘God is greatest and best’– the dominant cuisine in high-end restaurants was French and Italian. Today, South American food and ingredients are creeping on to the top tables of gastronomy, not just in the continent from which it hails, but across the world, and Atala has had a major hand in this.
That’s not to say that the cooking at D.O.M. doesn’t share the same qualities as those of other restaurants on this list. Attention to detail and precise plating are hallmarks of Atala’s colourful creations, which still make use of a lot of classic cooking techniques. But it is in the overall make-up of the dishes that makes the restaurant stand out. Tambaqui ribs with tripe and sausage surrounded by vivid green broad beans, or prawns with mangarito, accompanied by a deep mauve yam, are just two examples of the vibrant dishes in the Brazilian’s extensive repertoire.
Arzak, San Sebastian, Spain
As with others featured on this élite list, the Arzaks’ cooking is about the reworking of traditional dishes, and extracting the best from local ingredients using cutting-edge techniques. However far the restaurant moves forward, it still honours its Basque culinary heritage. Indeed, this respect for tradition has established Arzak as a destination for locals as well as visiting food-lovers. “Everyone living in San Sebastián has been here,” proclaims formidable chef patron Juan Mari Arzak, who shares the running of both the kitchen and the overall business with daughter Elena Arzak Espina.
Elena is, of course, a formidable chef in her own right, having studied at the prestigious Swiss Hotel Management School, later working at the legendary El Bulli. Last year the pair exported their brand of contemporary Basque cooking to the UK with an opening at London’s The Halkin hotel. Ametsa with Arzak Instruction offers a mix of Arzak classics alongside dishes inspired by UK produce. But for the true modern Basque experience, head down to San Sebastián.
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