The British magazine Restaurant has been creating a run-down of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants, since 2002. It’s a list that has been sponsored for many years by San Pellegrino and Acqua Panna and is voted for by the Diner’s Club World’s 50 Best Restaurants Academy. These days it’s as prestigious as the Michelin Guide for restaurants to get themselves included in the list. Here are the twenty highest ranked restaurants in Europe, in order of appearance.
Not merely the best in Europe but also the best restaurant in the world, El Celler de Can Roca is run by the groundbreaking culinary innovators, the Roca brothers in Girona, Catalonia. Opened originally in 1986, in recent years El Celler de Can Roca has never been far away from the top spot. They have also acquired three Michelin stars for their modern interpretations of Catalan cuisine.
The town of Modena is well known as a the place to go for foodies, and Osteria Francescana is the restaurant to head to these days. Chef Massimo Bottura is known in Italy as a writer on food, as well as a chef serving up the finest contemporary takes on Italian cuisine anywhere in the country. Ranked third in the world in 2013 and 2014, Osteria Francescana jumped to second in 2015.
In what was once an old warehouse in the trading district of Copenhagen, Noma opened in 2003. Since then, chef René Redzepi’s take on Nordic cuisine has won two Michelin stars and has been at the top of this list on three occasions. The name Noma, incidentally, comes from a combination of the Danish words for Nordic and food.
To some food writers Mugaritz is the most notable food phenomenon anywhere in the world. Opened in 1998 in Errenteria, Spain and making waves for over a decade now, chef Andoni Luis Aduriz provides no menu and delivers curious innovations like edible cutlery in his presentation of contemporary Basque cuisine.
Run by Blumenthal protégé Ashley Palmer-Watts the Knightsbridge restaurant takes a different, if no less innovative, approach to the famous Fat Duck, Blumenthal’s first restaurant. The dishes on the menu come from British culinary history, with research carried out at the British Library into the flavors and tastes of centuries past. Unsurprisingly, critics and diners love the place.
In Menton, on the Cote d’Azur looking out into the Mediterranean sits Mirazur. Chef Mauro Colagreco was born in Argentina and instills something of his homeland into contemporary French cooking and has two Michelin stars for his work. The finest restaurant in France, according to the Restaurant list, has an organic garden attached that provides inspiration and produce for the dishes.
At Arpège in Paris, chef Alain Passard is known for his bold approach and for setting trends that the rest of the restaurant world take years to catch up with. Arpège has three Michelin stars for contemporary food dominated not by delicately cooked meats and fish, but vegetables. Many of them are grown on the restaurant’s biodynamic farm outside Paris, a model countless restaurants now follow.
Outside Bilbao in the Basque Country of northern Spain is Asador Etxebarri. Run by chef Victor Arguinzoniz, it’s regarded as the smartest barbecue restaurant in Europe. Arguinzoniz cooks over wood in the traditional way, creating vividly flavorsome smoked fish and meats that compete with the most refined of dining establishments.
Heinz Reitbauer took over his family’s restaurant in 2005 and has turned it into the finest in Austria, with two Michelin stars. Trained under culinary giants like Joël Robuchon and Anton Mosimann, Reitbauer’s menu is heavily influenced by the flavors and produce of the Styrian region of the country, where his parents set up a farm in the 90s to keep the restaurant stocked with ingredients.
Another exceptional restaurant in the Basque Country, Arzak is run by two generations of the same family. In 1897, the Arzak family set up a tavern in San Sebastián. The original owner’s grandson Juan Mari Arzak turned it into a three star Michelin rated restaurant, and today it’s he and his daughter Elena Arzak Espina who share the kitchen duties.
Staying in the Basque Country, Azurmendi is where modern technology meets traditional cuisine. And by modern technology we mean things like ultrasound scans to judge the texture of the food. It may sound odd but it’s an approach that has brought three Michelin stars to the restaurant, which sits on a hillside in a steel and glass building that reuses rainwater and is heated using geothermal energy.
In London’s Notting Hill neighborhood, The Ledbury opened its doors in 2005. The chef in this immaculately English-sounding restaurant is actually an Australian, Brett Graham. A few years ago, Harden’s Guide described his food as nothing short of genius. The Ledbury is frequently rated as the best place to eat anywhere in London.
One of the most fashionable of all European restaurants, this place has a waiting list that goes on for weeks. Le Chateaubriand, run by Basque chef and former stonemason Inaki Aizpitarte, marks a return to bistro style cuisine and décor and has sparked imitators across Paris. Aizpitarte has a reputation as something of a brooding genius, much like the great writer who gives his name to the restaurant.
Fäviken is about as far removed from cosmopolitan sleek dining as you can imagine. Set in an 18th century barn in northern Sweden, the restaurant can handle 12 diners a night, at most. The food is caught or foraged locally on the estate surrounding the barn, and chef Magnus Nilsson uses traditional rather than modern techniques like sousing, brining and curing.
Enrico Crippa trained under the likes of Gualtiero Marchesi and Ferran Adrià and spent time cooking in Japan. His restaurant, Piazza Duomo, is in Italy’s Piedmont region, which is famed for its cuisine (particularly its truffles). It is now just as renowned as those of his illustrious mentors, with three Michelin stars and position number 27 on the World’s Best Restaurants.
German cuisine has been on the rise for many years. At its forefront has been Joachim Wissler of Vendôme. Situated within the historic Schloss Bensberg Hotel, you’re privileged as a diner with a magnificent view from the dining room out towards Cologne Cathedral. Wissler takes German classics like suckling pig and labskaus and infuses them with a modern twist.
Restaurant Frantzén is run by chef Bjorn Frantzén whose training included spells in London at Chez Nico and in Paris at Arpège. The menu at his Stockholm restaurant shows a debt to his mentors. His take on modern Scandinavian cooking includes a dish of over 40 types of vegetables grown in the restaurant gardens.
Aqua is based in Wolfsburg in Germany, home of Volkswagen. The restaurant sits right next to the main factory, making it one of the most curious locations for a world class restaurant you could hope to find. Chef Sven Elverfeld bases his food philosophy on updating peasant dishes, using much derided ingredients and giving them an update. This he does exceptionally well, with three Michelin stars awarded to Aqua.
The food at Le Calandre is rooted in Italian classics, which are prepared with immaculate precision. Based in Padua, since 1981 when it was opened by Rita and Ermino Alajmo, the restaurant is run now by their sons, Raffaele covers the dining room and Max, in 2002 at 29 the youngest chef ever to earn three Michelin stars, is in the kitchen.
Although Astrance sits in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, it serves up food with a distinctly Eastern flavor. With three Michelin stars, chef Pascal Barbot is known as a leading light in contemporary French food, taking traditional flavors and blending them with something a little different. His training included stints at Arpège and in the French Navy.