Beyond London, you mean? Our capital is, very seriously, right up there: the rate of new openings has been ceaseless for years now, and many trends start right here. Still, travel is essential for devoted gastronomes. In the same way that a pint of Guinness never tastes quite like it does in Dublin, sosome dishes and scenes must be sampled in their place of origin.
TOKYO: Sushi, skewered chicken and six-seat restaurants
Yes, Tokyo boasts more Michelin stars than any other city in the world, and yes, it has the planet’s greatest sushi spots. What really compels, however, is the spectrum of culinary options. You can eat yakitori skewers from dive bars in railroad arches near Yurakucho one night, then try monjayaki –batter versions of omelettes – over in Tsukishima the next. In Shibuya I visited six-seat izakaya restaurants and at Tsuta I had the best ramen of my life.
BOLOGNA: Italy’s gourmand hotspot will soon welcome a headline attraction
Not only is ‘La Grassa’ (‘the fat one’) home to some of Italy’s classic dishes – most famously that meaty bolognese sauce – but it is surrounded by the region of Emilia Romagna, which is responsible for parmesan, prosciutto and balsamic vinegar. Florence is only half an hour by train, too. Opening in autumn 2017 five miles east of Bologna is FICO Eataly World: a ‘Disneyland for foodies’ due to house orchards, workshops galore and some 25 restaurants.
NEW YORK CITY: Cronuts, cheesecakes, oysters, pastrami
This is the one city that probably pips London in terms of gastronomic credentials. Yet the Big Apple’s eating scene is about more than big-name chefs and trendsetting – most recently Dominique Ansel’s cronut, now arrived over here. There are also the legendary oyster bars, no-frills diners like Cup & Saucer, that cheesecake culture (try the Two Little Red Hens bakery in the Upper East) and pastrami sandwich-serving delis.
BUENOS AIRES: The best beef in the world
AKA the home of the steak, at least in my eyes. Not only are cuts deliciously juicy, grass-fed and butter-soft in Buenos Aires’ sizzling parrilladas (grill houses), but they’re often bargain-priced. It’s not uncommon to find a starter, top-notch steak and bottle of Mendoza wine for £30; in London, you’d pay triple that for any imitation on a par. Try Club Eros in the Palermo district to begin with. ‘BA’ is also one of the original supper club cities, with chefs’ houses becoming closed-door restaurants for a night.
SAN SEBASTIAN: Tapas with a brilliant Basque twist
Donostia, as the locals call it, has earned column inches for having more Michelin stars per square metre than virtually anywhere else. And the fine-dining possibilities are wonderful – headlined by the very-experimental Mugaritz, a must for Heston fans – and not always as prohibitively-priced as you’d think. Yet the real reason to come is the supporting cast: a slew of superb, casual pintxos (Basque tapas) gastrobars. Look out for slow-cooked veal cheeks, octopus, young eel and fried green peppers
COPENHAGEN: New Nordic in a variety of guises
The famously impossible-to-visit Noma, which closes this year, is ‘New Nordic’ cuisine’s headline act. But all around Denmark’s capital are innovative venues staffed by ex-Noma alumni – from the stripped-back Relæ to much more informal Cafe lillebror. Look out too for the Torvehallerne food market, two gleaming glassy buildings bursting with produce and pop-ups. A word of warning, though: eating out in Copenhagen is anything but cheap. Expect to pay upwards of £20 for any half-decent main.