Here is a treat for the foodies of the world. Conde Nast Traveler magazine has released its annual hotlist for the top luxury restaurants. If fine dining is your scene, this list could be a great guide. And if you are setting out on a grand tour of the world, here is a key to the best places to eat.
As expected, the United States dominates this list with eight entries. To begin with, there is April Bloomfield’s John Dory Oyster Bar on 1196 Broadway in New York City. Chef Bloomfield’s Spotted Pig in Greenwich Village is hugely popular, but with her new oyster bar, she has made a departure from her usual porky tryst. Entrees at the Oyster Bar cost between $11 and $21 and you can order such delicacies as smoked haddock terrine. If you visit during happy hour, try their $15-special of six oysters and a glass of cava.
Incidentally, Chef Bloomfield’s favorite new restaurant, Michael White’s Osteria Morini also figures on the Conde Nast Traveler hotlist. The Morini menu is inspired by the dishes of the Emilia-Romagna region of North Italy. Expect plenty of lard, cream, olive oil (not ideal for a weight-watcher). Their entrees cost between $17 and $28 and their veal and pork ragu is to die for.
Michael White’s pick of new fine dining restaurants is Graham Elliot’s Grahamwich in Chicago, Illinois. Sandwiches rule at this N. State Street joint, with each sandwich costing about $10. Don’t miss the beef short rib with baby watercress, shoestring potatoes, and pickled shallots on pretzel bread.
The third NYC fine dining restaurant to make the cut is Harold Dieterle’s Thai-inspired restaurant Kin Shop. The Sixth Avenue luxury restaurant uses Western methods to cook Thai ingredients. The results are divine treats like the super hot duck lab salad. Entrees are priced between $14 and $27.
When in San Francisco, try the faux shark fin soup with truffle custard at Corey Lee’s Benu. With entrees at $24 to $40, this Hawthorne Street restaurant is minimalist in design and uses Korean tableware.
Benu is also San Francisco food personality Melissa Perello’s favorite new luxury restaurant. Perello also figures on the hotlist with her 46-seater Frances, which offers modern Californian cuisine. Their menu changes weekly and they house some wonderful wines, thanks to sommelier Paul Einbund and wine-maker Marco Cappelli. The wines cost $1 per ounce, the entrees, $18 to $25.
In Las Vegas, you have Jose Andres’ China Poblano offering a mix of Chinese and Mexican street food. No fusion fare here, just both cuisines served side by side. There is plenty to choose from, including sui mai and cochinita tacos. The cheapest entrée is $8; the most expensive is $17.
Los Angeles makes the list with fine dining restaurant Red O. Rick Bayless’ new venture offers entrees priced between $14 and $32. But the food is beautifully indulgent. Even their fried tortillas have pork belly and short ribs as toppings.
But where would Rick Bayless go for his Mexican food? Pitiona in Oaxaca, Mexico tops Bayless’ foodie list. 31-year-old Jose Manuel Banos runs the restaurant, which stands within a restored colonial house. The cuisine is a mix of the old and the new. Banos uses modern techniques to create delicious dishes out of traditional ingredients. Entrees cost between $7 and $20. Definitely try their six-course tasting menu.
Meanwhile, Banos’ pick, Gabrielle Camara’s MeroTero in Mexico City, also makes the list. The place is hip, and offers very sophisticated food. Their grilled octopus with pickled vegetables, sea beans, and green chilies is amazing. Entrees at this Baja-inspired luxury restaurant cost $15 to $26.
How can you have a luxury restaurant hotlist without Paris making the cut? The French city manages two appearances on this fine dining list. The first of these is modern Franco-Italian joint Rino. The 26-seat restaurant owned by Giovanni Passerini comes recommended by fellow hotlist entrant Graham Elliot. Their seasonal menu includes interesting dishes like crispy lamb sweetbreads with beets and roasted endive. Prix fixes here cost in the range of $52 to $76.
Passerini’s new favorite, Le Dauphin also makes the hotlist. The Parisian luxury restaurant on 131 Avenue Parmentier is run by Inaki Aizpitarte. Tapas here is priced at between $7 and $35. Do order their boeuf bourguignon.
Copenhagen, Denmark is home to Relae, the brainchild of Christian Puglisi and Kim Rossen (formerly associated with star luxury restaurant, Noma). A favorite with Le Dauphin’s Aizpitarte, Relae offers prix fixes at $60. Their singular menu features incredible dishes like pickled mackerel with shaved cauliflower and lemon peel puree.
London has managed two listings as well. The first is Adam Perry Lang and Jamie Oliver’s barbeque-special restaurant, the aptly named Barbecoa. Kin Shop’s Harold Dieterle is a big fan of this grill joint. Their charred hot wings are delicious. Entrees here are pricey at $25 to $56.
The second London entrant is a restaurant by a former Jamie Olivier student. 28-year-old Tim Siadatan set up Trullo, a 40-seat restaurant offers Italian-style food with entrees costing anywhere between $25 and $32. The slow-cooked lamb with grilled eggplant and salsa verde comes highly recommended.
That leaves us with Barcelona’s Tickets by Ferran and Albert Adrià. Located in the theatre district of Avinguda Parallel, the name Tickets is inspired by the location. The luxury restaurant houses six dining areas and offers tapas. Entrees are reasonable for a fine dining restaurant ($3 to $16) and their rabbit ribs with allioli is scrumptious.
Max Levy’s Apothecary in Beijing is part cocktail bar, part easy American food joint. The luxury restaurant that serves tasso ham and gumbo, and has won Chef Jose Andres’ heart, offers entrees for $9 to $30. Their Sunday special of fried chicken dinners is the bomb.
Levy recommends Howard Ino’s Osaka-style Uo Kura in Shanghai for its brilliantly poached oysters in dashi and the “best sushi outside Kansai”. But the Howard Ing restaurant, also boasts of great views of Sun Yat-Sen’s former residence and the Fu Xing Park. The most expensive entrée on this menu costs a whopping $122. But then, a three-Michelin star chef and a sushi master man this kitchen.
Howard Ing’s new favorite is Goga in Shanghai. Named after the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, this no-frills 20-seat French Concession eatery is known for its hard-working chef Brad Turley and such treats as torched tuna sashimi and lobster rolls with green papaya salad. Entrées are priced between $24 and $56.
In Singapore, Luke Mangan’s Salt Grill & Sky Bar offers modern Aussie food with entrees priced between $27 and $70. The glass-domed space occupies the top floor of the ION Orchard art-and-retail complex. Visit for the yellowtail kingfish sashimi with ginger, shallot, and goat’s feta.
Finally, we have Chef Mangan’s current favorite, Mario Batali’s Osteria Mozza, also in Singapore. If you loved the original in Los Angeles, you will adore this Batali restaurant with a mozzarella bar. They offer 15 varieties of homemade mozzarella, stock an impressive 700-bottle wine bar and offer entrées priced between $25 and $43.