The San Pellegrino World's 50 Best Restaurant list is the restaurant world's nearest equivalent to the Oscars. Every year hundreds of restaurant experts - all 'well-travelled restaurant commentators, chefs or restaurateurs’ vote for their favourite restaurants across 26 international regions. Here are this year's Top 10 restaurants - with some explanation as to why they're considered to be at the top of their game.
No. 1: Noma
Where in the world? Copenhagen, Denmark
What makes it the best? Chef René Redzepi was the Chef's Choice at last year's World's 50 Best Restaurant awards. His two Michelin-starred restaurant on the waterfront in Copenhagen has leapfrogged its way up the San Pellegrino chart. As Redzepi was trained at The French Laundry and El Bulli it's no surprise to find dishes such as 'edible soil' on the menu here. The 12 course menu comes in around the £150 mark and booking a table certainly used to be a lot easier here than at El Bulli or The Fat Duck. Noma's win should make Copenhagen top of the list for a foodie weekend away.
For more info: Noma website
No. 2: El Bulli
Where in the world? Roses, Costa Brava, Spain
What's so great about it? El Bulli topped the World's 50 Best Restaurants list, when it launched in 2002, and has kept the top slot for the past four years. Chef Ferran Adria, describes his food as deconstructivist, his critics lambast it for being unhealthy and AA Gill described his meal there as 'a masterclass in the metaphysics of how, what and why we eat, while still being dinner.' Getting a table here is nigh on impossible. All 8000 covers for 2010 have been allocated and as El Bulli will close as a restaurant in the known sense of the word (ie open to the public) in 2012, the competition for a table in the final year will be intense.
For more info: El Bulli website
No. 3: Fat Duck
Where in the world? Bray, Berkshire, UK
What's so great about it? Heston Blumenthal may now be better known now for making jellies wobble on TV with the use of a vibrator, but The Fat Duck has been a gourmet mecca ever since it opened in 1995. Nine years later it was one of just three restaurants in this country with the full complement of Michelin stars and it topped the San Pellegrino list in 2005. Hot Dinners was lucky enough to eat at The Fat Duck in 2009 where it lived up to our highest expectations. It's a place where taste, sensation and theatre all come together perfectly.
For more info: The Fat Duck website
No. 4: El Celler de Can Roca
Where in the world? Girona, Spain
What's so great about it? Run by a trio of brothers, head chef Joan Roca, maitre d’ and head sommelier Josep and pastry chef Jordi, El Celler de Can Roca is a restaurant with its own lab, which has helped it come up with concepts such as perfume cooking. Their website describes one perfume-enhanced dish thus: 'smoke is introduced into an edible cavity, such as a paper-thin, blown sugar bubble for charcoal grilled porcini ice-cream'. Well it worked - we now want to go.
For more info: El Celler de Can Roca website
No. 5: Mugaritz
Where in the world? San Sebastián, Spain
What's so great about it? You've got to want to try the cuisine of any chef who's so into his food he's willing to spend two years of his life studying the chemistry of coagulation in order to produce the perfect poached egg. Mugaritz was opened by chef Andoni Adurizo in 1998, and caused quite a stir when it leapt into the no 10 position in the World's 50 Best Restaurants list in 2006. A fire destroyed the kitchens here in February 2010, but it's expected that Mugaritz will re-open in June 2010.
For more info: Mugaritz website
No 6. Osteria Francescana
Where in the world? Modena, Italy
What's so great about it? Chef Massimo Bottura's playful approach to food often begins with childhood memories. His family's favourite dish of eggs and prosciutto is transformed into a single faultless disc of tortelloni filled with prosciutto. Another key dish here is the five ages and textures of Parmesan and then there's his take on the Magnum - a fois gras parfait lolly on a stick covered with hazlenuts. This restaurant is never stuffy and always great fun.
For more info: Osteria Francescana website
No 7. Alinea
Where in the world? Chicago, USA
What's so great about it? Chef Grant Ashatz opened Alinea in 2004 to bring his deconstructivist approach to cooking to the American public. Far from being horrified at his take on the classic Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwich (Ashatz's version is a single, peeled grape, on the stem, covered in peanut butter and wrapped in wafer-thin brioche pastry) Alinea has become one of the most talked-about restaurants in the States. The 12-course tasting menu here costs $150.
For more info: Alinea website
No 8. Daniel
Where in the world? Manhattan, New York, USA
What's so great about it? Daniel Boulud was born in Lyons and spent the 70s training under some of the best Michelin-starred chefs in the world. But it was in New York that he made a name for himself when he opened the eponymous Daniel in 1993. In 1998 it moved to its current position and became one of the few three-starred restaurants in America, although Boulud told Hot Dinners recently, 'The last thing I want is to be a global destination'. With this spot in the World's Top 50, Boulud looks to be disappointed there. Two years ago, Daniel was redesigned by the man responsible for the London Bar Boulud, Adam D Tihany. If you go, make sure all eyes in this fabulous dining room are on you by ordering the pressed duck.
For more info: Daniel website (warning - music upon loading)
No 9. Arzak
Where in the world? San Sebastián, Spain
What's so great about it? Four generations of chef Juan Mari Arzak's family have worked in this San Sebastián restaurant which has been in the family for 113 years. Here is where Juan Mari, now works with his daughter Elena to serve up his 'modern interpretation of classic Basque cuisine'. All well and good, but what you really need to know is that this is the man who played mentor to El Bulli's Ferran Adria which places Arzak squarely at the epicentre of molecular gastronomy.
For more info: Arzak website
No 10. Per SeWhere in the world? Manhattan, New York, USA
What's so great about it? One of just six restaurants in America to have a coveted third Michelin star, Per Se was a huge deal for East Coast foodies when it opened in New York in 2004, saving them the cost of a flight across the US to Thomas Keller's equally high-rated West Coast restaurant The French Laundry. It's not cheap - the nine-course menu costs $275 - nor is it easy to get into. Now that the chef de cuisine Jonathan Benno (who launched the restaurant) has left, it'll be interesting to see how Per Se fares in next year's World's 50 Best list.
For more info: Per Se website
- No 11: Le Chateaubriand, Paris
- No 12: La Colombe, South Africa
- No 13: Pierre Gagnaire, Paris
- No 14: Restaurant de l'Hôtel de Ville, Crissier Switzerland
- No 15: Le Bernardin, New York
- No 16: L'Astrance, Paris
- No 17: Hof van Cleve, Kruishoutem, Belgium
- No 18: D.O.M. - Sao Paulo, Brazil
- No 19: Oud Sluis, EA Sluis, Netherlands
- No 20: Le Calandre, Rubano, Italy
- No 21: Steirereck, Wien, Austria
- No 22: Restaurant Vendôme, Gladbach, Germany
- No 23: Chez Dominique, Helskinki, Finland
- No 24: Les Creations de Narisawa, Tokyo
- No 25: Mathias Dahlgren, Stockholm
- No 26: Momofuku Ssam Bar - New York
- No 27: Quay - Sydney
- No 28: Iggy's - Singapore
- No 29: L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon - Paris
- No 30: Schloss Schauenstein - Graubunden, Switzerland
- No 31: Le Quartier Francais, Franschhoek, South Africa
- No 32: French Laundry - California
- No 33: Martin Berasategui, San Sebastian, Spai
- No 34: Aqua, Wolfsburg, Germany
- No 35: Combal Zero, Rivoli, Italy
- No 36: Dal Pescatore, Milan Italy
- No 37: De Librije - Zwolle, Netherlands
- No 38: Tetsyas - Sydney
- No 39: Jaan par André, Singapore
- No 40: El Canto - Siena, Italy
- No 41: Alain Ducasse at Hotel Plaza Athénée - Paris
- No 42: Oaxen Krog, Holo, Sweden
- No 43: St John- London
- No 44: La Maison Troisgros, Roanne, France
- No 45: WD-50 - New York
- No 46: Biko, Mexico City
- No 47: Die Schwarzwaldstube, Germany
- No 48: Nihonryori RyuGin, Tokyo
- No 49: Hibiscus - London
- No 50: Eleven Madison Park - New York
Notable British entries in 50 - 100:
- 58 - Marcus Wareing at the Berkely (down from 52)
- 92 - Zuma (up from 66)
- 81 - River Cafe (down from 72)
- 92 - Le Gavroche (down from 58)
- 95 - Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester (new entry)
For the full list of the World's 100 best restaurants, visit the official website.