The world’s leading chefs get to eat some of the world’s greatest food. So we asked a bunch of them for their best meals of 2019.
Here’s what they had to say.
Atomix, New York
Chef Junghyun Park serves contemporary dishes inspired by Korean cuisine at this small restaurant in Murray Hill, where tasting menus are served at a counter. “It was my best meal of the year by far,” says Floyd Cardoz of Bombay Canteen, in Mumbai. (Cardoz previously opened Tabla and North End Grill in New York.) “The staff were very hospitable and gracious,” he says. “The food was amazing, well prepared using Korean techniques and seasoning. The plates were perfectly designed and help tell the story.”
Bab Al-Yemen, Amman, Jordan
This simple restaurant in the Jordanian capital serving authentic Yemeni food is the pick of Asma Khan, of Darjeeling Express, in London. “They serve gigantic portions of rice and meat, like mandi with chicken (a traditional dish with meat cooked in a tandoor oven); zurbian with lamb (a rice dish similar to biryani); and Yemeni madghot (another traditional rice and meat dish); And then the dessert I will never forget: Masoob malikia- warm toasted banana, bread, cheese, cream, honey, golden sultanas and nuts,” she says.
D’Berto, O Grove, Spain
This is a traditional restaurant in Galicia, known for its focus on local seafood and fish. “It was my best meal of the year,” says Jose Pizarro, of Pizarro restaurant in London. “The whole experience was amazing, just walking around makes you hungry. The welcome from Berto and his family makes you feel at home. For me, the lobster al ajillo, with plenty of olive oil, chilli and garlic, is to die for.”
Blue Hill at Stone Barns, Tarrytown, New York
Chef Dan Barber’s farm-to-table restaurant in Pocantico Hills is the pick of Layo Paskin, once a superstar DJ and now owner of Palomar in London. A lengthy tasting menu costing $278 is served. “I sat down for lunch at 1 pm and got up at 8 pm, 26 courses later,” he says. “It was my best meal by far in 2019. It’s almost impossible to choose the best dish but let’s go for: Tree Fermented Apple, Diver Scallop and Black Walnut, Stone Barns Mache.”
Clove Club, London
Chef Isaac McHale’s contemporary restaurant in Shoreditch is the pick of Ashley Palmer-Watts, executive chef at Dinner by Heston Blumenthal in London. “It was beautifully executed cooking with a great respect for the ingredients: It was decadent, well-balanced and was a joy to experience,” he says. “A couple of the many standout dishes were the Cornish lobster, scallops with potato and truffle; and also the hare royale, utilising every part of the hare. Delicious!”
Corte Comedor, Buenos Aires
Chef Wolfgang Puck of Spago in Beverly Hills picks this barbecue restaurant. “I had the grilled sweetbread and I loved it so much that I went back to the kitchen, talked to the chef-owner, Santiago Garat, and asked for another plate, though I had gout at the time. It was worth having another attack, my best dish of 2019. It’s a very casual restaurant adjoined to a butcher shop and they serve what they butcher.”
This contemporary restaurant was opened in 2014 by three friends who had worked together at El Bulli, five times winner of the title of World’s Best Restaurant. It’s a place for creativity and imagination, with constantly evolving tasting menus and dishes such as gazpacho in a sandwich. It’s No. 9 on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants and served the best meal of 2019 for Virgilio Martinez of Central, in Lima. “Wow! Wow!” he says. “I love it when this technical approach and perfect execution, hospitality, meaning all go together.”
This contemporary restaurant in Stockholm is the pick of two great chefs. Elena Arzak, of Arzak in San Sebastián says: “Great creativity, respect for the product. Björn Frantzén makes you really dream.” Mark Birchall, whose Moor Hall in northern England holds the title of top UK restaurant, says: “Every single dish was exquisite but particularly memorable was an amazing fish course; Alfonsino from Norway, sea urchin XO, yuzu kosho beurre blanc with sea-buckthorn oil.”
Güeyu Mar, Asturias, Spain
“I love this place,” says Nieves Barragan of Sabor in London. “It’s in the middle of nowhere, really relaxing and laid-back right in front of the beach, so all of the seafood and catch of the day is extremely fresh; it’s exactly the kind of restaurant I want to eat at when I’m abroad and travelling. The standout dish was tuna belly cooked over coals and served with warm egg yolk and fresh peas. It gives me goosebumps just thinking about it.”
MIL Centro, Maras, Peru
This restaurant north of Cusco served the best meal for Kyle Connaughton of the three-Michelin-star SingleThread in Healdsburg, California. “It’s the restaurant project of Virgilo Martinez at the Moray archaeological site,” he says. “An amazing meal and an inspiring project. Every bit of food was perfect and delicious. It also had purpose and the hospitality was so warm and genuine.”
Chef Rene Redzepi’s pioneering restaurant divides the year with seasonal menus and it was the Game & Forest menu that particularly inspired chef Ana Ros of Hiša Franko in Kobarid, Slovenia. It features such as reindeer heart tartar and sorrel, with egg-yolk sauce and ants. “The food was really amazing,” she says. “I couldn’t believe how light it was, yet so faithful and tasteful.”
Spanish chef Nieves Barragan has developed a following in London for her authentic and unfussy cooking, showcasing great produce. “I eat there a lot,” says Chris Galvin of Galvin La Chapelle in London. “I love the variety of specials while there are always the seasonal classics, the staff, deep flavours and deliciousness, coupled with the drinks and buzz always make me feel happy to be alive.”
Sat Bains, Nottingham, England
This two-Michelin-star restaurant with rooms is a destination for food lovers and is the pick of French chef Claude Bosi, who himself holds two Michelin stars at Claude Bosi at Bibendum, in London. “It’s one of the top places in England,” Bosi says. “he’s got a dish with smoked eel that’s absolutely beautiful. His style of food, you want to take your bread and finish the sauce with the bread. That is a sign of quality. Good strong flavour with his own identity. That is the beauty of it.”
Lo Scoglio da Tommaso, Massa Lubrense, Italy
This restaurant on the Amalfi coast traces its history to 1958, serving local cuisine using ingredients from the sea or the family farm. It is a favorite of Francesco Mazzei, of Sartoria in London. “It’s so authentic,” he says. “The mum and dad are in the garden, the sister’s on the floor and the brother’s in the kitchen. Their most famous dish is Spaghetti alla Nerano, with basil, zucchini and Provolone cheese. That dish alone is worth the flight from London.”
SingleThread, Healdsburg, California
The restaurant at SingleThread Farms served the best meals of the year to another two great chefs. Daniel Boulud, of Daniel in New York, says: Chef Kyle Connaughton and his wife Katina bring the most genuine experience in food setting and service, inspired by nature with the best expression of a Japanese ryokan in Sonoma.” Clare Smyth, of Core by Clare Smyth in London, says: “It would have to be SingleThread Farms because it was amazing, but also incredible weather sitting on the rooftop having a drink before dinner and looking over the countryside. The produce was incredible at that time of the year (end of August).”
Richard Vines is the Chief Food Critic at Bloomberg.
© 2019 Bloomberg L.P.