June 2018


This year’s award ceremony took place on the 19th of June in Bilbao, Spain. While the two top spots, in my opinion, were predictable, there were some real surprises down the list of 50, and even more in 51-100.

So, who gets to decide what restaurant goes into which spot? And what exactly does it mean “the best”? Not to dwell too much on the voting process, especially since my insights are gained from the pages of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants Academy, I will summarise the key points. You can find out more directly on their website.

There are 26 regions in total, each with 40 voters. Each voter picks 10 restaurants, in their order of preference, with at least 4 of those located outside of their region. They must have eaten in the restaurants they rank in the last 18 months. And obviously, there cannot be any conflict of interest, financially or otherwise.

Since there are no set criteria that the restaurant must meet (unlike with Michelin), it is really all down to the quality of cooking and the tastes and motivations of those who are lucky enough to participate in the voting process.

Here’s where I think the process is a bit skewed. Say, I am the academy member based in Austria, Switzerland, Hungary & Slovenia. I would probably want to make sure that the restaurants from the region are reasonably represented and as high up in the list as possible. Probably a much simpler task here than if you happen to be in the Spain & Portugal region. Here you have 13 entrants in Top 100 versus 3 from the other four countries. And just like that, the likes of Enigma, which in my view is far superior in quality, creativity and ambience to Steirereck (no offence), ends up in the bottom of the list. Sad.

Now that I got that out of my system, there were some positives this year too. White Rabbit jumped from 23rd to the 15th place. Good news for the Brits too: there are 7 UK restaurants on the Top 100 list this year. Here they are:

  • The Clove Club (#33)
  • Lyle’s (#38)
  • The Ledbury (#42)
  • Dinner (#45)
  • The Fat Duck (#74)
  • Hedone (#82)
  • St John (#84).

There is also the highest new entry, Disfrutar at number 18. It looks like our trips to Barcelona will need to be extended yet again.

Taste of London is, in the words of the organisers, a “showcase of the capital’s best restaurants, top chefs and leading food and drink brands”. For me it is something else. It’s an opportunity to spend a few hours outdoors (preferably not in the rain) and to sample different food, often from the places I did not know existed.

The next one is going to be in November, at the Tobacco Dock. Are you coming?


Mirazur is a contemporary restaurant in a quaint French town of Menton, just a stone throw away from Italy.

The location is anything but perfect. The main dining room of the restaurant is overlooking the sea and the old town with the small harbour and a clock tower. It’s a perfect spot for a romantic dinner, even if you are not into fine dining.

The restaurant is a short distance away from the town centre. You can come here by taxi, or you could stroll along the sea front, as we did. It’s not crowded like Nice or Monaco. And you can enjoy the Azure Coast views and the evening sea breeze all by yourself.

The chef, Mauro Colagreco, has been on San Pelegrino’s Best Chefs list for at least five years. The restaurant earned its first Michelin star in 2007, and the second one in 2012. Yet, Mirazur is not the name that springs to mind when I think of the world’s top restaurants. To admit my ignorance, I did not know it existed until my partner booked a table for dinner there. Now, that I’ve been there, I have a theory why that is.

The dishes are delicate, well executed, but somewhat understated. If you are expecting an Argentinian flair, you will not find it here. As the chef himself described in one of his interviews, he “left his cultural and culinary past behind him, so that he could start from scratch”.

His signature dish – Beetroot and oscietre caviar – is refined and unusual. Kudos also go to the sommelier; the wine paired with this course and most of the others worked wonderfully.

We chose the set menu with the chef’s classic dishes. Scampi with garden vegetables and chamomile consomme, Oyster Gillardeau, Hake fish and Pigeon from Marie Le Guen were equally well executed.

The chef’s understated style is also noticeable in deserts. Apple Granny Smith soup was my favourite.

As I am writing this post, the results of the World’s 50 Best awards is out. Mirazur takes the 3rd place, overtaken only by Osteria Francescana and El Celler de Can Roca. Well deserved? Perhaps. Am I surprised? For sure.