From cool and composed minimalism, defined by the honesty of simple ingredients, to gourmand flavours and decadent interiors - even amongst star chefs and industry experts, there isn’t full agreement about what qualities define a top restaurant.
And even if it was possible to do within the limits of a smaller area - perhaps a neighbourhood or a city - having to crown the top 10 world restaurants seems like an almost impossible industry dream. For, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, as they say, and then that is just an evaluation of the visual appeal. Add to the equation the variable of taste, and the answer has as many variations as there are people in this world.
Yet, certainly, there is a way to at least begin the selection of the best 10 (out of millions). It starts with defining the “must-haves”.
“The key success factors – are of course the food; quality of service, the surroundings and the experience, but we need to understand the whole visceral world of what a dining experience comprises and that each attribute can affect the other. A restaurant needs to reach all the senses. But the biggest challenge to evolve over time; to grow with the customer - to make the experience front of mind. To be on a top 10 list for the best restaurants in the world, the venue needs to be hitting all the standards and even surpassing them. The restaurant needs to be on top of the social buzz, enlightening and always relevant that works both visually and from a sensation point of view - everything has to be absolutely right. We cannot neglect our customers need to be seen and to be seen - we need the whole to be Instagrammable, we need to be totally IG-able - the presentation of the food, the unique style, the overall environment, the location. And everything has to be ‘quality’...the experience; the food; the people!” - Gabriel Murray, TGP International’s Creative Director.
Once the rules have been established, it’s time for the more subliminal part of the evaluation. Claire Richmond, Design Director at TGP weights in:
“When thinking about restaurant trends, and what makes a restaurant one of the top in the world, what defines its “beauty”, I feel like we’ve gone beyond time periods of styles. We're having so much access to so many different places, whether that’s just visually or whether it is in person. It’s more a case of people finding places that suit the need of what they’re looking for right now, or suit their personality, rather than generic trends that go across all areas.”
Taking into account both the unwritten rules of hospitality and the more personal experience concerning one’s own preferences, the TGP experts have put together this list of top 10 restaurants around the world in 2022.
1. Carousel, Fitzrovia - London, UK
We said above that the rating of a restaurant is something very dependent on personal taste. And this is why Carousel is a firm favourite. With over 250 guest chefs from over 30 different countries, there has been something to delight everyone.
Choose to come again and again - there will always be a surprise waiting in this culinary hub.
The menu can be as versatile as its masters - taking inspiration from the wide range of cultures and cuisines, explored through the vision of international chefs. Prepare for traditional flavours executed to perfection - crispy chicken bites complemented by the soft sweetness of fermented honey and the daring hint on habanero. Welcome the freshness of spring with wil bream crudo in chilli de arbol oil with a slight nip of dill. Taste divine richness with a silky burrata, embracing tender smoked tomatoes, charred carrots and earthy almonds.
The atmosphere is also impeccable - surrounded by sleek lines, constellations of exposed bulbs and warm muted light - you’ll feel cosy yet sophisticated.
2. Steirereck, Stadtpark - Wien, Austria
Austrian cuisine beyond its boundaries - this is the restaurant’s own strapline, and we can assure you, it does not lie.
Despite its location in grandeur and touristy Wien, somehow this restaurant will transport your senses to a rustic, countryside setting, a much simpler time, perhaps. The oldest part of the building is more than a hundred years old, but the present is still welcome through the mirrored-glass extensions. Any guest will be wise to walk in and embrace this almost soul-level cleanse of both atmosphere and food.It’s an experience of art and science, authenticity and precision, ideals and dreams.
The menu calls to the earth and land, to products and flavours which are strong and dependent. Start your dinner with an Alpine Char with Blueberry, Birch & Walnut Leaf - a forest fairytale for the palette. Continue on the secret path of discovery with the Fennel with Bergamot, Hemp, salted Figs & Lovage. For dessert, it is time to relax into a Forest Perennial Rye Soufflé with Cornell Cherry, Dark Chocolate & Coffee.
The beauty of the whole experience is not just the taste - it is the exploration of curated wilderness.
3. Boragó - Santiago, Chile
Visitors to Chile have to visit the brainchild of chef Rodolfo Guzman, set in the foothills of Cerro Manhquehue, the highest mountain of Santiago - on a symbolic path to the peaks, yet overlooking the rolling countryside, which will fuel that journey with its endemic produce.
Guzman bases its inspiration and ethos on the Mapuche culture, and serves as a bridge between the history of the land and the modern times. The menu is dedicated to sustainability, no compromise possible - a farm nearby is the source for the majority of products one might find in the kitchen. The richness of chocolate or coffee will be hard to find on the menu - as they are not native to Chile, though often associated with South America. But for a unique experience, one might wish to try the espresso made from the fermented seeds of Espino trees.
And while the food here is indeed almost a connecting ritual, the true hidden gem is in the simplicity of the most pure of elements - water. The water served in Boragio comes from the rains of Patagonia, a refreshment for the spirit itself.
4. Lido 84 - Gardone Riviera, Italy
It would not be a true top 10 restaurant list, without the inclusion of true Italian cuisine. It is almost like paying respect to the gods and creators - as Italy has shaped the world’s food stage beyond measure.
Consuming Italian food, of course, it’s not simply about the food - it’s about the surroundings. And there’s nothing quite like sitting on the shores of the mesmerising Lake Garda in Italy, the air filled with the scent of sun and summer, a promise of an experience that feeds the very innermost depths of the being.
The menu is classic, as it should be - this is what we really want in Italy, no gourmand grandeurs, just mouth-watering, true-to-its-roots, honest cuisine.
Let’s start with the basics - risotto. Sea Saffron Risotto, or if you prefer - Risotto alla Parmigiana with Guinea Fowl Liver, gently dulcified with candied pumpkin. Curious - Black Garlic Risotto and Red Berry Sauce - the presentation reminiscent of molten lava, could this be a nod to the unpredictable nature of peaceful times?
5. Pivot, Henrietta St - London, UK
One of the rising stars on the London eatery scene, Pivot should definitely be on the list of any food enthusiast with a love for the extraordinary.
The newest project of famous chef Mark Greenaway, Pivot is a restaurant that “totally reinvents itself every month.” There is no room for repetitiveness and boredom in this culinary space where imagination reigns.
The menu takes inspiration from the seasonal changes which affect our tastes and desires, showcasing only the freshest of local produce deemed good enough to end on the chef’s counter. But visiting Pivot is about the cooking experience itself, the dining experience is focused around an open kitchen where the chef’s counter is the prime spot for the guest, introducing them to the unfiltered sense of the action.
The restaurant itself is located in a beautifully restored five floor building in the heart of Covent Garden - there could not be a better place to speak to the venue’s bold and creative character.
6. Atomix - New York City, USA
Precision, clarity, perfection - it’s easy to describe Atomix, unnecessary words would not sit well on the clean and polished surface of this exceptional NYC restaurant. It has been part of many top 10 best restaurant lists before, these are just the facts.
The name is also simple. Ato stems from the Korean word for “gift”, and this is exactly what every minute spent delighting the taste buds in this venue will be. The husband and wife team behind the concept, Chef Junghyun and manager Ellia Park, have truly presented us with a dining experience like no other.
The cuisine is inspired by ancient Korean traditions and cooking techniques, and tells the story of its products in an honest and unassuming way. The menu changes with the seasons, and invites reflection. The Jellyfish and King Crab Tart with Sesame-Mustard Puree and Garlic Scape Jangachi is beautifully presented, blooming with the last rays of the autumn sunshine. Later in the year the Tilefish, White Asparagus and King Crab Littleneck Clam Muchim take center stage.
Now the time has come to uncover spring.
7. Maaemo - Oslo, Norway
The theme of honesty continues across the ocean in Oslo, Norway in Maaemo. The head chef Esben Holmboe Bang has his vision centred around showcasing Norway’s organic produce, clean flavours and elevated simplicity. The clue is in the name, “Maaemo” in ancient Norse means “Mother Earth”. Ten years later Maaemo is one of the most popular Scandinavian restaurants, topping numerous classations across the world.
While the flavours might sound familiar, it is the execution that really opens the door to new culinary realms. Fresh salmon, embraced by rich, salted butter - according to their own words, Maaemo aims to “highlight the relationship between the raw produce, and the finished product.” The caviar served with white asparagus and hazelnuts is a blend of everything the earth has to give, unassumingly. Through the dessert menu, the warmth of traditions is explored - with melting cinnamon buns, luscious brown cheese toffee and air-light cloudberry tart.
8. Les Plaisirs Gourmands - Schiltigheim, France
All culinary roads lead to France, and in the center of them all is Les Plaisirs Gourmands. A true gem of a place, with a world-wide popularity. Yet, it would still make you feel like you found it first, like it is your own, special, little, hidden piece of true France, the one from the romantic books and movies past.
The setting is cosy and welcoming - the lounge where Chef Guillaume Scheer and his wife Charlotte would like to welcome their friends for an evening of laughter and joy. The outdoors garden is perfect for the warm weather, an oasis of tranquillity and greenery in the bustling summer nights of the city.
The food… the food is emotional, personal and full of character. The food is seasonal, using the best of available local produce. Tender beef, fresh, young vegetables, light salmon, complemented by bold vinegar rice ice cream and fiery wasabi.
Wine pairings are also available; and since it’s France, we dare say - absolutely obligatory.
9. Ise Sueyoshi - Tokyo, Japan
The real beauty of being a food connoisseur is discovering places before anyone else has. And tucked on the third floor of a simple building in central Tokyo, is a culinary experience like no other.
Every bite here is precious, it is loaded not just with delightfully peculiar flavours, but also with the history and culture of Japan, as retold by the hands of Chef Yuuki Tanaka.
The menu changes every month - there is no use trying to find it online beforehand. Simply come with your senses ready to delight. The menu is seasonal, using locally available produce, and each dish will be narrated, to allow for full immersion in authenticity.
You won’t just be visiting this restaurant - you will be welcomed by the chef as a long-awaited guest and a friend.
10. The Wolfgat - South Africa
A truly exquisite festival for the senses, The Wolfgat will take you on a journey of exploration, using indigenous ingredients and exotic techniques.
Chef Kobus van der Merwe draws inspiration from the stunning surrounding landscapes and seasonal transformations. The location carries a meaning as well - the Wolfgat cave on the premises is a site of immense archaeological and geological significance.
The menu transforms the physical into epicurean. Some elements can take weeks of preparation, others come directly from the wilderness of local lakes and meadows. Of course, sustainability is key - the venue takes no more than 20 diners and often ingredients are handpicked on the day for the specific guests.
Choosing the top 10 most beautiful and trendy restaurants will always be a personal choice. Even after hundreds of tasting menus, it is still possible that the heart is drawn to an old Italian bistrot with chequered tablecloths, nestled in the corners of your childhood neighbourhood.
We believe we gave our best at selecting the top 10 but is there one that we missed?