Every food worshipper should have a checklist of the great dining establishments around the world that they are eager to visit. But remember: it’s not just about the name and reputation; it’s about the whole package: stand-out cuisine, outstanding ambiance, and a movie-esque setting that will have you going back for more.
With that in mind, author of the new The Bluffer’s Guide to Food Neil Davey lists his top five places to dine before you die – along with maximum bluffing value about each place.
Located in Girona, El Celler de Can Roca is the new number one in the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list. It is run by three brothers; Joan, Josep and Jordi Roca, and despite its ranking, is surprisingly relaxed. The standout dish? ‘The Whole Prawn’ – served with phytoplankton sand, prawn sand, prawn head juice, crisp prawn legs and onion, and squid ink sponge cake. No, it’s not something anywhere else is going to be attempting any time soon.
Maximum Bluffing Value: Since winning the Best Restaurant award, the waiting list for a table is currently a year and there is a backlog of 3,000 requests. The best bet is to go to Rocambolesc, the restaurant’s ice cream shop, so at least you can say you’ve ‘eaten’ there.
Noma is famous for taking local and seasonal to its Danish extremes. Unless it can be found naturally in the country, the restaurant doesn’t serve it. You can, however, have ants, bulrushes, live shrimps and flowers. Redzepi is taking Noma to Japan for two months in 2015 – and will be doing the same ‘extreme local’ thing over there.
Maximum Bluffing Value: This is a culinary altar at which you must worship. Give it another year, however, and it could be passé – or perhaps it won’t return from Japan? Either way, Noma is still at the forefront of a major revolution in food and you’ve got even less time to get there.
Scraping in at #50 on the World’s 50 Best list in 2014, you can expect young chef Virgilio Martinez’s Central to rank much higher in 2015. Virgilio has worked in Japanese, Vietnamese, Italian and French kitchens, all of which are evident in his cooking. With the Brazilian influence of his co-chef and partner Pía León, as well as his mother having designed the stylish dining room, it shapes up to be quite the family affair. While the menu is ever-changing, be sure to order a pisco sour, the national drink.
Maximum Bluffing Value: Peru is the new place to eat, and Peruvian restaurants are springing up in London fast. It comes as no surprise that the first to earn a Michelin star was Martinez’s Lima.
You want edgy? Come to Cape Town. Every Saturday, in The Old Biscuit Mill, some 100 local speciality traders sell fantastic food and produce – think great seafood, grilled meat and brilliant wines.
Maximum Bluffing Value: Try bunny chow, a hollowed-out loaf filled with curry, in its place of origin before it inevitably becomes a British street-food craze.
- MAINE, USA
The East Coast of the USA has excellent seafood – be it in a restaurant, truck or tiny shack – and is enjoyed by locals and tourists alike. Lobster rolls at Five Islands in Georgetown are particularly delicious, or the lesser known but equally good Miller’s in Spruce Point, which overlooks the very waters in which its lobsters are fished. People will argue which is best until they’re blue in the face. The reality is they’re pretty much ALL delicious.
Maximum Bluffing Value: Everyone knows about the lobster rolls but it’s the deep-fried belly clams that are the best ‘local secret’. And the ones at The Clam Shack in Kennebunkport are former President George Bush’s favourites.
Think you’re already a qualified foodie? Try our Bluffer’s Guide to Food quiz to see if you’re more Master Chef or Little Chef:http://bluffers.com/quiz-
The Bluffer’s Guide to Food eBook version is available for Kindle and iPad at Amazon.co.uk and iBookstore (RRP £4.99). The print edition is available through www.bluffers.com and all good book and gift shops (RRP £6.99).