CULINARY TRAVEL

Highlights from the World’s 50 Best Awards

As the World’s 50 Best restaurants returned in 2021 after a year’s postponement due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the comeback of the prestigious awards reflects a major moment for cult culinary destinations. Bittersweet for those here in Australia who can’t travel internationally just yet, here’s a look at this year’s top five.

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1. Noma, Copenhagen, Denmark

Noma and its founder, René Redzepi, are known for creating New Nordic Cuisine. With a fermentation-focused menu that runs as three different menus throughout the year – seafood, vegetable and forest and game highlighting the seasons. Menu highlights from previous seasons include dishes such as vegetarian celeriac shawarma, a duck dish of leg, brain and heart served with claw, feather and beak, and sweet crab meat served on a flatbread cut into the shape of a crab.

Refshalevej 96, 1432 Copenhagen, Denmark

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The team at work at Geranium (top) and the warm, rich interior of Asador. Images via Geranium and Asador.

2.  Geranium, Copenhagen, Denmark

Many restaurants align their menu to the changing seasons, but Geranium takes it to the next level. Chef Rasmus Kofoed’s love for sea-foraging. Squid, melted smoked lard, essence of yeast and potatoes is a true taste of the brackish waters that encapsulate Denmark, while quail with thyme seeds, berries and pickled pine is the only point where meat comes into the 16-course menu.

Per Henrik Lings Allé 4, 8 DK-2100, Copenhagen, Denmark


3.  Asador Etxebarri, Atxondo, Spain

Asador Etxebarri is housed in a rustic stone building with sprawling views of mountains in the foothills of the Spanish Basque Country. Chef Victor Arguinzoniz designed Asador Etxebarri’s grills and the kitchen features six fully adjustable grills that can be raised and lowered on a pulley system. The restaurant has its own 750-degree ovens in which Arguinzoniz and his team prepare fresh coals daily from carefully chosen woods, such as holm oak for fish and vine trunks for meat. The restaurant respects the intrinsic natural flavours of local produce: house-made chorizo, salted anchovies, buffalo cheese, the freshest prawns from Palamos, tender beef chops. Even the desserts – such as reduced milk ice cream with raspberries – are kissed with at least a suggestion of smoke.

Per Henrik Lings Allé 4, 8 DK-2100, Copenhagen, Denmark

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The creations of chefs Chefs Virgilio Martínez and Pía León at Central (top). Oriol Castro, Mateu Casañas and Eduard Xatruch at Disfrutar. Images via World's 50 Best and Travel Squire.

4.  Central, Lima, Peru

Chefs Virgilio Martínez and Pía León’s flagship restaurant, Central, is an ode to Peru in all forms. The dishes celebrate the unique landscapes, history and traditions of their homeland by using an abundance of locally sourced produce. The tasting menu features scallops, squid and clams come fresh from the coast and the Amazon, while the Sacred Valley offers up pork belly and goat’s neck. Eight years later, Martínez and León have had their fair share of success – with the opening of Mil in the Andes and Kjolle in Lima. While the menu represents Peruvian ecosystems at their best, the team at Central focus strongly on sustainability. Recycling, composting and closing the loop on waste ingredients all come second nature. Guests are given an insight into this diverse culinary world just by walking to the front door – taking them through a vegetable garden with over 100 plant species.

Av. Pedro de Osma 301, Barranco 15063, Lima, Peru


5.  Disfrutar, Barcelona, Spain

Disfrutar – whose name translates as ‘enjoy’ – is one of the most delicious, surprising and boundary-pushing gastronomic experiences in the world. Chefs Oriol Castro, Mateu Casañas and Eduard Xatruch all started working at the legendary El Bulli. Dishes such as panchino (a fluffy bun) stuffed with caviar and sour cream, or multi-spherical pesto with tender pistachios and eel, are designed to ‘please, surprise and excite’. Located in the Eixample district of Barcelona, Disfrutar’s main dining room is light-filled and white, but the restaurant also features other spaces, including an outdoor terrace and a private lounge in the creativity kitchen. The design – featuring plenty of ceramics – was chosen to convey the trio’s respect for the history and heritage of the Mediterranean.

Carrer de Villarroel 163, Eixample, Barcelona, 08036

This restaurant list is an edited outtake from The World’s 50 Best.

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