Year after year the holy trinity of gastronomy around the globe has remained El Bulli in Catalonia, Spain; The Fat Duck in Bray, England and The French Laundry in Yountville, California. Many others have emerged in recent years that are foodie destinations in their own right, some with Michelin stars already in place and others whose stars are still on the rise. Not necessarily test tube creations or 18 course extravagant meals, but well worth price of a plane ticket or fueling up the jet.
Restaurant Kelly Liken in Vail, Colorado is the perfect ending to hard day on the slopes. Already noted by Bon Appetit as ‘the next generation,’ the young female chef has created a destination dining buzz with her multi-course menu along side excellent wine pairings by her partner and GM Rick Colomitz. Her elk Carpaccio and potato encrusted trout are standouts. As long as you’re in Colorado, try to stop by Rioja in Denver. One of the best new restaurants in the country, also run by female chef Jennifer Jasinski with a sublime tasting menu and a GM wine connoisseur partner, Beth Gruitch. Maybe it’s the air up there?
Hop across the pond to traditional The Grill at the Dorchester, London which has just been updated for 21st century dinners. Yes, Alain Ducasse (with 2 Michelin’s) and David Tang eateries are also located on the property, but the The Grill has just enlisted HRH Prince of Wales personal chef Brian Hughson for his signature seared scallops and sardine pie. You could have a different gastro experience here for a week and never leave the grounds.
Berlin has been dubbed the new Paris and the restaurants are also standing up to the title. The Hotel Concorde in Berlin is a modern art showcase and was designed by one of the countries most prominent architects, Jan Kleihues, but it also has top Chef de Le Faubourg Jörg Schlüßler at Brasserie Le Faubourg. Expect classics like steak frites to grilled fillet of grass-fed ox with foie gras sauce over port wine shallots and potato puree.
Recently renovated iconic La Mamounia in Marrakesh now has 4 Michelin stars under one Moroccan tiled roof. Alfonso Iaccarino at L’ Italien and Jean-Pierre Vigato at Le Francais have two stars each. They both source produce from the on site garden and whip up dishes from lobster fritters with eggplant and zucchini to pistachio soufflé with orange flower ice-cream.
Another icon can be found at Spoon Byblos, the Mediterranean version of Spoon – Food & Wine, created by world renowned Alain Ducasse in Paris, is seeing new light in the Provencal haven of St. Tropez with a modernized new menu. The entire revamp of the Byblos hotel and famous Les Caves du Roy nightclub is still welcoming the jet set and Groupe Floirat is looking to expanding the brand globally.
Over in the Far East L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon in Hong Kong offers a tapas style tasting menu – think foie gras ravioli soup and frog leg fritters – by the man with more Michelin stars to his name (24 last count) than Ducasse. While you’re there, take the ferry to Macau and dine at his Robuchon a Galera at the Hotel Lisboa which recently was awarded three stars.
Tokyo has welcomed Tateru Yoshino Ginza, a French concept offering a degustation menu that opened last September by Chef Tateru Yoshino. This is his third restaurants after acclaimed Shiba and Shiodome; and he owns Maris in Paris which received a Michelin star.
Down at the Pacific Rim the hottest place in Melbourne is a Moroccan styled bar Spice Market. Already creating a buzz for their Turkish delight martini made with 666 Tasmanian vodka and rose petal syrup, and next door to fine dining heaven Momo where Greg Malouf’s pigeon pie is king and diners sparkle amid the 26,000 Swarovski crystals used in the design.
Mexico’s Riviera Maya has been experiencing a renaissance and the Grand Velas is raising the culinary bar with Cocina de Autor (or Signature). Chefs Mikel Alonso and Bruno Oteiza use their innovative techniques (honed originally in the Basque region of Spain) for seafood dishes such as scallops with recaudo and romeritos – translation: served over patties of dried shrimp, with sprigs of wild herbs and potatoes in a mole sauce. The restaurant is a follow up to their uber successful Biko in Mexico City.
Just down the California coast, Newport Beach has become a culinary force with the Resort at Pelican Bay’s Andrea. Chef Gianlulu Re Fraschini has focused on Italian cuisine, particularly from the Tuscan region, with ingredients such as 100 year-old balsamic vinegar and milk-fed veal. They also boast a temperature controlled pasta room and gelato lab in the kitchen for whipping up artisan treats. Don’t miss the 1,200 bottle wine list.
Some of the best local dining can be found about one hour north of LA at Brooks in Ventura. Andy Brooks’ seasonal American 5-course tasting menu with dishes ranging from Limoncello steamed mussels, pan-seared foie gras and Mexican lobster sope would rival any great chef from Napa to New York. Trust us.