Andrew Harrison
October 2016.

What's the best restaurant in the world, and why?

1 answer

I think the idea of there being a single world’s best restaurant is ludicrous. An international guide book publisher like Michelin can rank restaurants into groups using a given set of criteria and some will rise to the top, so you can have a class of restaurants around the world that are achieving a similarly high standard. But Michelin would never pick a ‘best of the best’ as it would be invidious. No other organisation has the manpower to get enough samples on an even enough basis to find an overall number one restaurant, nor would it make economic a sense to attempt to do so.

User generated content sites like TripAdvisor are still extremely varied in terms of reliability of reports and for many reasons that have been widely discussed in the press, the methodology of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants, for example, is so profoundly flawed that to accept their number one restaurant as the best in the world at face value is naïve. It’s worth noting that World’s 50 Best is not directly related to Michelin stars either; for example, Noma in Denmark, which has been number one in the World’s Best Fifty list more than once, has never won a third star.

Many of these top-rated restaurants tend to in the same mould – chef-driven, starchy, elitist places that a lot of people might well find off-putting. These sort of lists might have more credibility if they considered a fantastic brasserie or neighbourhood bistro serving top-quality ingredients with skill and flair as the best in the world.

But as it happens, my favourite experience in a particular restaurant was at Schwarzwaldstube in Germany’s Black Forest region. It happens to meet the criteria of restaurants that get into the World’s Top 50, with a long tasting menu of complex French-inspired German food – but it was all done with such astonishing precision, and so delicious, and it didn’t seem all about how wonderful the chef is, but more about giving the diner pleasure. The service was amazing, and the restaurant itself so comfortable, and the Black Forest setting so glorious, it really doesn’t get better. But someone else might not like the style of food. It’s so subjective. 

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