Any chef worth their salt keeps up with what’s going on in their industry. Whether or not they follow is a matter of opinion, but at least they make themselves
aware. Confident chefs aren’t afraid to visit the venues of their peers, either. Now, I don’t claim to be a chef, because I have no delusions of grandeur and won’t insult my husband’s profession, but I do love to travel and try fine food.
We all know how the Michelin Guide awards stars, right? One star means: "A very good restaurant in its category." Two stars: "Excellent cooking, worth a detour." Three stars: "Exceptional
cuisine, worth a special journey." Let that marinate. A restaurant so awesome that you’d actually create an entire trip just to experience it. We’re talking airfare, accommodation, and vacation time-just for a restaurant! Well, not just
I’ve seen countless numbers of lists online of the “Top Ten Restaurants in the World.” Guess what, folks? Everyone has a different opinion. I guarantee you none of them have tried my
local hole-in-the-wall Vietnamese restaurant that currently holds the #1 spot in my heart. Since I have no way of trying every restaurant in the world, I can’t claim to know the best restaurants in the world. I can only share my bucket list, comprised of
the top 10 places I’d create a trip around. So, here it is:
Brittney’s Top Ten Restaurant Bucket List (Places she’d actually spend airfare, accommodation, and vacation time to experience).
1. El Bulli- Roses, Catalonia, Spain. Hello! Who
wouldn’t make a trip to savor the work of culinary madman Ferran Adrià? Unfortunately, this Michelin Three Star restaurant closed in 2011 after a brief bout of stardom. The pastry fanatic in me would have me try one of
the sweets first. Perhaps the Frozen Guirlache Nougat Air with Coffee Mirror and Lime Ice Cream from 2003? Guess I’ll never know. Anyhow, El Bulli is #1 on my list because it’s the only one that I would risk my life experimenting in time travel for. We
own all of the cookbooks; they are worth every penny.
2. Sukiyabashi Jiro- Ginza, Chuo, Tokyo, Japan. You can thank Netflix and my love for food documentaries for this one! I became obsessed with this
small sushi joint (is “joint” an appropriate description of a Michelin Three Star establishment?) while watching Jiro Dreams of Sushi. Jiro Ono, a tiny, ancient man, is undisputed as the greatest sushi master in Japan. I’ll have to admit, the fact that he
stares down the guests as they eat is a bit intimidating, but I do think it would be worth it. Maybe that’s why Obama couldn’t finish his sushi when he dined there this year….At any rate, I’d be honored to eat all of whatever he was serving.
French Laundry-Yountville, California, USA. Oh, the lovely, timeless French Laundry! Chef Thomas Keller’s darling was named “Best Restaurant in the World” in 2003 and 2004. It has been awarded three Michelin stars, but so have so many other hundreds
of establishments. The really remarkable feature of this place is the fact that two different nine-course tasting menus are offered, neither of which repeats an ingredient more than once. That’s quite an undertaking! The menus tend to nod towards traditional
French cuisine, but there is no classification for the White Truffle “float,” a muscovado crumble with root beer soda, toasted marshmallow, and white truffle ice cream.
The Fat Duck-Bray, Berkshire, England. Well, the name alone brings delight to this Southern gal. Chef Heston Blumenthal definitely has a knack for imagination, as evidenced in the erratic drawings in his delightful book, The Big Fat Duck Cookbook.
This fine establishment (Three Michelin Stars) is all about reputation and personality. It warrants a place on my bucket list because of the man himself. He is an inspiration to those of us who believe in constant self-education. I urge you to take a look
at his biography on the Fat Duck website. Were I there right now, I’d be urging my stuffed self to take another bite of Nitro-Scrambled Egg and Bacon Ice Cream.
Gramercy Tavern- New York, New York, USA. Gramercy Tavern is hailed as New York’s most popular restaurant and holds one Michelin Star this year. That’s not why I’d brave the streets of The Big Apple, though. This one is simply sentimental. My husband
worked there as a young and sprouting chef-ling. The restaurant’s masterminds pride themselves on their farm to table concept and their relationships with local farms and purveyors. Chef Michal Anthony has had a rather nice turn around the world and became
executive chef at Gramercy Tavern in 2006, long after my husband left. His nod to Polish cuisine caught my attention, and I’d likely try the Cheese Kielbasa, Rye Spaetzle and Sauerkraut.
6. Noma- Copenhagen, Denmark. René Redzepi is a Rock and Roll Chef who’s gone back to his roots. He is reinventing Nordic cuisine, which currently
is not a very popular topic in the culinary world. But, Redzepi’s made it quite an item by earning Noma two Michelin stars. Even their mission statement is good enough to eat; “In an effort to shape our way of cooking, we look to our landscape and delve into
our ingredients and culture, hoping to rediscover our history and shape our future.” Should I go, I’d love to try their pickled and smoked quail eggs over sea urchin toast. Norwegians are famous for pickled and salted surf and turf foods. Love it or leave
7. Alinea- Chicago, Illinois, USA. Did you know that there is a Facebook page created for selling and trading reservations for this Michelin Three
Star restaurant? Wowzers! Guess that’s when you know you’ve made it big. On the restaurant’s website, chef/owner Grant Achatz attributes his artistry to hard work and study. My kind of guy. Alinea has a modern feel and changes its single menu according
to the season and chef Achatz’s inspiration. Each menu has between 18 and 22 courses, a concept that I’m confounded just thinking about. I don’t think I’d want to disturb the art on the plates. I’d pay just to stare at it, kind of like a museum. Alinea
is definitely my #1 choice for presentation.
Nahm- Bangkok, Thailand. Arguably the best Thai restaurant in the world, or so I’ve read. Boy, do I love Thai food. Chef/owner David Thompson and his head chef Prin Polsuk seemed to have captured all of the delicate beauty that I find in Thai food and
served it in the most emotionally beautiful way possible- family style.
The Strand Grill in the Strand Hotel- Yangon, Myanmar. I have heard my husband rave about The Strand’s Lobster Thermidor for years now. His mouth waters each time he recalls it. When he finally decides to take me to his hometown I’ll go and willingly
spend the $$$$ just to see for myself. Also worth noting is the beautiful British Colonial architecture and live music played during dinner.
The Commander’s Palace- New Orleans, Louisiana, USA. I am Southern, and this is the epitome of Southern food. I am not ashamed to admit my jealousy over my husband going there without me several years ago while on business.
Them’s my stompin’ grounds. I should have been there first…… Chef Tory McPhail is praised for creating a cuisine where “Modern Louisiana meets Haute Creole.” The menu has all of the eloquence of a Southern drawl and color of a Mississippi steamboat.
The crispy soft shell crab is tugging at my heartstrings.
Originally posted in Ideas That Snap
Brittney Tun, Food Writer and Self-Proclaimed Culinary Enthusiast