Best restaurants in the world? Here’s a taste of the ones I got to try.
My favourite restaurant experiences of 2017 were enjoyed mostly at fine dining establishments on the Continent (with two of only seven in tiny Ljubljana). But even at the most prestigious of venues listed below, it was a casual and lighthearted approach to eating that edged it out over other otherwise excellent restaurants I visited this year. I think this short list of restaurants (with a longer list of honourable mentions) represents places to eat where culinary confidence is the hallmark and pomp is left by the wayside.
This list excludes London restaurants. My list of best restaurants in London will follow shortly in my Best of 2017 series of posts.
Please note, this list merely reflects how I chose to spend my time during the year and is comprised of well established and brand new venues as well as businesses that are somehow related to where work and play took me.
Items appear in alphabetic order, not ranked.
B – Alfredo Russo
Intercontinental Ljubljana, Slovenska Cesta 59, Ljubljana 1000, Slovenia
Michelin star chef Alfredo Russo’s Slovenian outpost at the newly launched Intercontinental Ljubljana – the tallest building in town as well as Ljubljana’s first five-star luxury hotel – offers the opportunity for upscale rooftop dining paired with sweeping views of the city and some of its most famous landmarks, the countryside and the Alps. The menu (as presided over by the restaurant’s Executive Chef Komnen Bakić) is an exquisite blend of Russo’s Piedmontese upbringing, the best of local knowhow and produce, and a cosmopolitan understanding of what fine dining is supposed to be about these days. Ideal dish? The tortino di melanzane: aubergine, tomatoes, and smashed mozzarella with a Parmesan biscuit. Wow.
Rúa das Hortas 1, Santiago de Compostela 15705, Spain
Casa Marcelo is the only Michelin starred restaurant in Santiago de Compostela and one of only about a dozen across Galicia. Here’s why it shines so bright. Service is swift and polite; the setting is tasteful, upscale and comfortable; the wine list is exquisite and – most importantly – the food is phenomenal. Chef Marcelo Tejedor’s tasting menus suggest serious knowledge and skill but equally an ability to not take himself so seriously and to allow fun and conviviality to be the two key ingredients of his success.
La Dame de Pic
20 Rue du Louvre, 75001 Paris, France
At her Paris restaurant, three Michelin star Chef Anne-Sophie Pic brings delicate (if boldly chosen) flavours and feminine finesse to the fore in a pretty and minimalist room with open kitchen.
3 James Street, Birmingham B3 1SD, England
Few dining experiences impressed me as my lunch at this attractively designed contemporary Indian restaurant (and veritable Birmingham foodie institution). Paya Raas (slow-braised mutton gently simmered in bone marrow stock with browned onion and spiced with whole garam masala) with Yahkni Pilau (aromatic basmati rice cooked in fragrant lamb broth with mace and cardamom) was as mmm-ingly moreish as it gets.
46 Avenue de Lattre de Tassigny, 16100 Cognac, France
Inventive, seasonal dishes at this tiny open-kitchen eatery added up to one of the most inspired and delicious meals I had this year. In particular, duck tartare with pecans and anchovies rocked my palate in a majorly scrumptious way. When in Cognac, make a meal here a top priority!
Le Roi Fou
1 Forth Street, Edinburgh EH1 3JX, Scotland
All hail the new king? Oh hell yes! Dining at Chef Jerome Henry’s Edinburgh restaurant, Le Roi Fou, resulted in madly majestic meal. Every bite of every dish (from his six course tasting menu) delighted as it confirmed why this months old fine dining destination was dubbed Best New Restaurant at this year’s Scottish Food Awards.
Ljubljana Castle, Grajska Planota 1, 1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia
Despite his restaurant being set in the top of the archers tower of Ljubljana Castle with stunning 360° views of all below, Chef Igor Jagodic aims to delight patrons with wonderful culinary creations rather than rely on the novel setting or picturesque panoramas. With beautifully presented dishes such as foie gras ice cream, cuttlefish ink pasta stuff with cuttlefish and pork, and chocolate covered beetroot marshmallows with chocolate and fennel potato crisps, I hardly looked up from the table at all during my lunch here.
- Árbore Da Veira, A Coruna, Spain
- Brasserie Cheminots, Brig, Switzerland
- Le Café du Nord, Champéry, Switzerland
- La Cantine de Rives, Champéry, Switzerland
- La Cantine sur Coux, Champéry, Switzerland
- Le Chai, Cognac, France
- FG Foodlabs, Rotterdam, Netherlands
- Harajuku Kitchen, Edinburgh
- Trattoria Ivana & Secondo, Pinzano al Tagliamento, Italy
- Restaurant Rubino, Basel, Switzerland
- Six by Nico, Glasgow
- The Mooring Fish Café, Rarotonga, Cook Islands
- Phillips Seafood, Baltimore, Maryland
- Wit & Wisdom, Baltimore, Maryland
- L’yeuse, Cognac, France
More of the Best of 2017 to follow!