You may not realize it, but we are currently living in the midst of a culinary revolution. Chefs all over the world are more courageous, creating ornate dishes with inventive and exciting flavours. The big question is: Where do you start? For those who get serious menu anxiety and can’t figure out what to order, take a deep breath and discover where to go, what to eat, and what to drink while on a culinary quest around the world.
Osteria Francescana – Modena, Italy
It’s no easy feat getting the title of the world’s best restaurant, but Italian Chef Massimo Bottura’s Osteria Francescana managed to hit the top of this list back in 2016, making it a must-go spot for foodies. One of Bottura’s signature desserts is the aptly-titled “Oops! I dropped the lemon tart.”
This expert take on a happy accident features lemongrass, candied lemon rind, wild apple mostarda, and a whole lot of cream and sugar to create a divine tart that melts in your mouth. It tastes a heck of a lot different than it looks.
Trois Mec — Los Angeles, California
Food & Wine was onto something in 2013 when they picked Ludo Lefebvre’s avant-garde restaurant, Trois Mec, as a restaurant with one of the best dishes out there. This LA spot — legitimately set inside an “old pizza parlour in a strip mall” — serves a simple plate of grilled baby corn with black garlic that Anthony Bourdain once described as the best thing he’s ever eaten.
So, what makes this dish so special? The spices. This “vegetarian ceviche” comes with a broth made of garlic, ginger, lime juice, and chile-based ají amarilo paste that is unlike anything you’ve ever eaten before. Trust us, if you’re going to hit up one restaurant situated within a strip mall, go to Trois Mec.
The Ledbury — London, England
Sometimes you want to opt out of the normal dining scene and hit up a restaurant that challenges your expectations. Enter The Ledbury, a London restaurant where ingenuity rules. With two Michelin stars under its belt, The Ledbury provides the type of multi-course meals that will put you into a food coma the moment you finish paying the check.
Here’s the typical fare you can expect from the Ledbury Hampshire Buffalo milk curd and rabbit shoulder with chestnut cream and chanterelles. Again, not the kind of stuff you’d find at your run-of-the-mill restaurant.
Le Bernardin – New York City, NY
There are more than 20,000 places to eat in New York City – a foodie’s dream. How can you even begin to choose? Zagat did the dirty work for you by putting Le Bernardin at the top of the list eight years in a row, giving this seafood spot serious clout. Zagat recommends patrons order the sautéed langoustine, crispy black bass, yellowfin tuna, foie gras, and the toasted baguette.
Fish is a protein that pairs wonderfully with white wine, but if that’s not your thing, vodka also makes the perfect accouterment to light, flaky fish like fluke. Ciroc over ice with a splash of lemon expertly brings out the flavour in fish and makes for a light dinner drink that won’t fill you up.
Central – Lima, Peru
Recently named one of Latin America’s Top 50 Restaurants, Central features locally sourced ingredients that showcase the country’s diverse flora and fauna. The dishes are big — meant for entire tables only — and should be ordered accordingly, meaning you have to book a visit with a group of people who are all on the same page with their food choices.
The unique tasting menu organizes dishes according to the height of the locations the ingredients were foraged. From under the sea to thousands of miles up in the Andes mountains, this menu provides a tour of Peru that’s led by your tongue.
So, if you’re gonna go big, go very big by ordering pork sourced from the Andes and served with black mashwa (a type of plant that grows in the mountains), panca chili pepper, and kiwicha seed, an ancient Peruvian superfood.
Gaggan — Bangkok, Thailand
Named for its creator, Chef Gaggan Anand, Thailand’s Gaggan serves modern Indian cuisine that surprises its patrons by offering a menu comprised of 25 emojis. Seriously. The food looks unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. For example, there’s a mango wasabi uni sundae that pairs the tropical fruit with sea urchin.
There’s also a yogurt dish served with rock salt, coriander, and chaat masala on the inside, and a cookie made out of eggplant. Intimidated yet? We recommend the New Zealand lamb chops, which are served with sweet potatoes and beetroot mash. It’s a simple dish that looks as good as it tastes.
Mirazur — Menton, France
Situated between the mountains and the sea in Menton, France, Mirazur offers a take on surf ‘n’ turf that warranted a Michelin star within nine months of opening. Chef Mauro Colagreco offers food that pays tribute to the Mediterranean by providing a taste of the ocean itself.
One of their prettiest dishes is a simple salad made of asparagus, grapefruit and yogurt sauce. The dish is often served during the spring season and features sweet and soft asparagus sourced from The French Riviera.
For dinner, head for the surf. Fresh prawns sourced from San Remo, served with lemon cream, red cabbage sauce, and candied spinach. If you’re looking for something to wet your whistle during dinner, we highly recommend a Vesper: a simple cocktail made of vodka, gin, and Lillet Blonde.
El Celler de Can Roca — Girona, Spain
Spain is one of those countries that can keep you enthralled forever with its rich culture, beautiful landscapes, and incredible food. El Celler de Can Roca — located in Girona — is a three-star Michelin restaurant that combines everything people love about Spain and presents it in a uniquely avant-garde manner.
NPR recently wrote about the three brothers who started El Celler de Can Roca and spoke highly of their cooking technique — one that involves blowtorches and smoke — and set you back several hundred dollars. So, what should you get? Easy: The tagliatelle with hand-chopped ragu, risotto, and veal jus. It’s a meal that will make your head spin and change the way you think about pasta.