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The Best Restaurants In The World for 2005

Well, it's out again: the list of the world's top fifty restaurants as judged by Restaurant Magazine in the U.K. Always a lightning rod for criticism from all sources, myself included, the list provides a point of view based largely on the editorial of the magazine and polling of chefs around the world.

The biggest beef I have with the list is its (lack of) representation of Asian restaurants. I've not eaten at Tetsuya, but I have eaten at Nobu, and I guarantee you those aren't the best Japanese restaurants in the world. Nothing from Singapore? Nothing from Shanghai? And while Felix may have improved since I was there, I have a hard time believing it's the best in Hong Kong (even though it has a damn fine view).

In any case, here's the rundown of awards and links to the restaurants' web sites if you care to plan a visit or just be an armchair gourmand. If you're interested, here's last year's list.


Best Restaurant in the World: The Fat Duck - Bray, Berks, England.

Chef's Choice: El Bulli - Montjoi, Spain.

Best Restaurant in Europe: The Fat Duck - Bray, Berks, England.

Best in The Americas: The French Laundry - Yountville, California, USA.

Best in Australia: Tetsuya's - Sydney, Australia.

Best in Middle East & Africa: Le Quartier Francais - Franschhoek, South Africa

Best in Asia: Felix, Hong Kong

Highest New Entry: Per Se - New York, USA.

Highest Climber: Chez Panisse - Berkeley, California, USA.

Outstanding Value: Cal Pep - Barcelona, Spain.

Editor's Choice: Enoteca Pinchiorri - Florence, Italy.

American Express Lifetime Achievement Award: Paul Bocuse


1. The Fat Duck " Best in Europe - Bray, Berks, England.
2. El Bulli - Chef's Choice - Montjoi, Spain.
3. The French Laundry - Best in Americas - Yountville, California, USA.
4. Tetsuya's - Best in Australasia - Sydney, Australia.
5. Gordon Ramsay - London, England.
6. Pierre Gagnaire - Paris, France.
7. Per Se - Highest New Entry - New York, USA.
8. Tom Aikens - London, England.
9. Jean Georges - New York, USA.
10. St John - London, England.
11. Michel Bras - Laguiole, France.
12. Le Louis XV - Monte Carlo, Monaco.
13. Chez Panisse - Highest Climber - Berkeley, California, USA.
14. Charlie Trotter - Chicago, USA.
15. Gramercy Tavern - New York, USA.
16. Guy Savoy - Paris, France.
17. Restaurant Alain Ducasse - Paris, France.
18. The Gallery at Sketch - London, England.
19. The Waterside Inn - Bray, Berks, England.
20. Nobu - London, England.
21. Restaurante Arzak - San Sebastian, Spain.
22. El Raco de Can Fabes - San Celoni, Spain.
23. Checchino dal 1887 - Rome, Italy.
24. Le Meurice - Paris, France.
25. L'Hotel de Ville - Crissier, Switzerland.
26. L'Arpege - Paris, France.
27. Angela Hartnett at The Connaught - London, England.
28. Le Manoir aux Quat' Saisons - Oxon, England.
29. Le Cinq - Paris, France.
30. Hakkasan - London, England.
31. Cal Pep - Outstanding Value - Barcelona, Spain.
32. Masa - New York, USA.
33. Flower Drum - Melbourne, Australia.
34. WD50 - New York, USA.
35. Le Quartier Francais " Best in Middle East & Africa - Franschhoek, South Africa
36. Spice Market - New York, USA.
37. Auberge de l'Ill - Illhaeusern-Alsace, France.
38. Manresa - California, USA
39. Restaurant Dieter Muller - Bergisch Gladbach, Germany
40. La Maison Troisgros - Roanne, France.
41. The Wolseley - London, England.
42. Rockpool - Sydney, Australia.
43. Yauatcha - London, England.
44. The Ivy - London, England.
45. Gambero Rosso - San Vincenzo, Italy.
46. The Cliff - St James, Barbados.
47. Le Gavroche - London, England.
48. Enoteca Pinchiorri - Editor's Choice - Florence, Italy.
49. Felix - Best in Asia - Hong Kong.
50. La Tupina - Bordeaux, France.

Comments (13)

Michelle wrote:
04.19.05 at 11:28 PM

On our honeymoon, my husband and I stayed at Le Quartier Francais for 3 nights. We ate breakfast there every day and had dinner there twice (the third night we had dinner at another restaurant down the road that's also one of South Africa's best but ordered dessert room service back at Le Quartier). We drank good wines and ate very well. At the time, the exchange rate was very good, so it was about $115 US a night. Imagine our surprise when we checked out and discovered the rate included not only the breakfast as we thought but also dinner every night, our room service and all house wines. Incredible -- a cozy inn with great service (including hot water bottles) and some of the best food in the world, for two! Highly recommended.

Michelle wrote:
04.19.05 at 11:41 PM

Here's the website for Le Quartier Francais: http://www.lequartier.co.za/

04.20.05 at 7:09 PM

Good to see someone else is in the "Nobu is overrated (if only slightly) camp." I haven't been to the one in London, but my trip to the one in New York was pretty underwhelming. Not that it wasn't good, but it wasn't life-changing either, and if you are number 20 in the world, I want it to be life-changing.

Perhaps my wife and I had our expectations set too high. We went the night after our wedding and just thought it a letdown. I've definitely had better sushi (Sasabune in Honolulu and Oishii here in Boston) and for a modern twist on pan-Asian cuisine, I think Ming Tsai's Blue Ginger is better, as well.

What might qualify as a life-changing experience, you ask? Number 3 on the list - French Laundry. Dining perfection. The only problem with French Laundry? No other restaurant was particularly satisfying for the next couple of weeks.

chuck wrote:
04.20.05 at 7:30 PM

Nobu is highly overrated - i went to the one in NY and, believe it or not, they overcooked my kobe beef. unforgivable.

the secret to enjoying Nobu is to eat at Matsuhisa in LA. splurge on the omakase and you will be rewarded.

i'm really surprised to see WD50 at #34 - it's an adventurous dine, and it can be extremely rewarding, but it's a little inconsistent to be in the top 50.

Jean-Louis wrote:
04.21.05 at 12:07 AM

This is the sort of ridiculous list put out to boost magazine sales and best used for dinner conversation. Figure out that the NY Times restaurant critic visits each restaurant to be reviewed some 4 times. And then there is the Michelin opus, with its dozens of inspectors fanning out accross the land 24/7. And they do not always get it right. How many times did the magazine send its people to each of the 50 best on all continents? They also would have to test the hundreds of others not included among the top fifty. So I take those magazine lists with a very large pinch of salt. AH!

Alder wrote:
04.21.05 at 7:37 AM


You are correct. Not only did this magazine not send out reviewers, it simply polled people (chefs, restaurantuers, critics, and professionals) about what THEY thought were the best restaurants in the world, tallied up the list and then published it.

It is ridiculous in some aspects if you think about it closely. For example, even #50 on this list is better than every one of the 80,000 restaurants in Tokyo, let alone the rest of Japan? No way.

Thanks for the comment.

barrett wrote:
04.21.05 at 9:56 AM

Of course this list is ridiculous. I think most critics in the know would say Charlie Trotter's may not even be the best restaurant in Chicago. Tru and a few others (Everest, Les Nomades, the revitalized Les Francais) have been getting better reviews lately than Charlie Trotter's eponymic eatery.

Like many lists this one reflects the quality of press a place has received more than the quality of the dining experience.

That said, I wouldn't turn down a free meal at any of these places!

Amanda wrote:
04.25.05 at 3:17 PM

I went to Tetsuyas only a few weeks ago and I can tell you it is a class dining experience. Everything about it was brilliant. And it is not "Japanese food". Tetsuya has Japanese, French and Australian influences and he combines them to make food that is just spectacular.

Nicole Lew wrote:
04.28.05 at 7:40 AM

I agree with others here that this list is truly unbelievable. I live in London and while I can attest to the fact that there are some good restaurants (I've tried almost all in the UK on the list), I'd hardly think that 16 of them should be in the world's best 50.

The list is geographically biased - there is great food all over the world and there is a glaring oversight of places in Australia and Asia.

rachel wrote:
04.28.05 at 9:50 AM

Geographically biased indeed. Altho I live in NYC and am extremely appreciative of the amazing quality and selection of good restaurants here, there's gotta be some top-notch ones somewhere between the East and West coast of the country...

Stephen Page-murray wrote:
04.28.05 at 7:53 PM

March gourmet says London is the best place in the world to eat right now. It has a range of cuisines other cities can't match. A lot more Australian restaurants should be there but most never get to discover the wonder of Downunder!

Richard Houlton wrote:
06.06.05 at 7:13 PM

Tetsuya's (which is a Japanese, French, Australian fusion, and is definitely not a Japanese restaurant) would certainly be the best restaurant I've been to in Australia.

As good as the Rockpool and the Flower Drum are however, there are a number better restaurants in Sydney and Melbourne respectively

Dave wrote:
06.26.05 at 6:53 AM

Tetsuya's is fucking incredible. It pisses over every other place I have eaten at. The food is great, the service is great, the location is beautiful, the wine list is overwhelming, the sommelier was brilliant. It is so far beyond some of the others on this list, it's ridiculous. What's more incredible is that it's not perfect.

Anyone ever been to a perfect restaurant?

I'm surprised at the ommision of Japanese restaurants.

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