World's 50 Best Restaurants 2009

50bestThis week’s newspapers were full of the news that Heston Blumenthal had retained his No 2 slot on the San Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurant List and that Gordon had lost his grip (plummeting out of the top 50 to number 91!). Now in its eighth year, this list has become the internationally-recognised standard of who’s hot in the restaurant world – but how does the list actually come about?

According to the Award website, ‘a total of 4,185 votes will have been cast by 837 restaurant experts - all well-travelled restaurant commentators, chefs or restaurateurs’.

The awards organisers split the world into 26 regions, each with its own chairperson.  That chairperson – chosen for their local knowledge – then assembles a panel of voters. Each voter is then asked to nominate three restaurants outside their region and two within it – all of which they’ve visited during the past 18 months.

Heading up the UK and Ireland region is Guardian restaurant critic Jay Rayner who, when asked for his commentary on the final 50 said; ‘We’re not massively represented this year which is probably as it should be.’ Speaking at the Awards ceremony in London, Rayner added; ‘Some people think this event is just a ludicrous celebration of expensive restaurants. I disagree, partly because I’m the chair of the UK panel.’

Ferran Adria of El Bulli secured the coveted top slot for the fifth time – and fourth year running, which he was plainly delighted about. And while Gordon Ramsay wasn’t happy, his former protégé Marcus Wareing was clearly thrilled with making it to 52. ‘I'm absolutely delighted to be here,’ he said. ‘We've only been up and running for six months so just to be there on the edge of the top 50 is great for me and my team. Gordon's not in the top 100 but I don't feel sorry for him at all.' Nothing like rubbing salt into those wounds is there? Let’s hope it was Maldon.

So what’s the key lessons to learn from all this? Well we now know that Spain is currently the best foodie destination in the world.  We also know that as every chef worth his salt was at the event described by Rayner as a ‘big back-slapping piss-up’ it’s worth finding out when next year’s award ceremony is to make sure you don’t make a booking at a high-end restaurant on this night or the following day when the kitchen staff are all recovering.

The San Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurant list in full (including from 50-100):

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

UK placings outside of the top 50:

52. Marcus Wareing at the Berkeley, U.K.
56. Hibiscus, U.K.
58. Le Gavroche, U.K.
71. The River Cafe, U.K.
91. Maze, U.K.
92. Zuma, U.K.

Read numbers 51 - 100 in full at the official site