10 Restaurants Worth a Plane Ride
10 Restaurants Worth a Plane Ride
By GISELA WILLIAMS
From new offerings by marquee chefs to more modest openings in out-of-the-way spots, here are 10 restaurants around the globe to keep an eye on in 2011, in alphabetical order.
Lauryn Ishak for The New York Times
Thor Swift for The New York Times
EL PUERTO DE SANTA MARíA, Spain
In the exclusive world of America’s and Europe’s top chefs, Ángel León has been getting some hard-won respect. His 22-seat restaurant, Aponiente, which opened in 2005 in a small port village in southern Spain, specializes in sustainable seafood; it was awarded a Michelin star last year. Mr. León, 33, is an insatiably inventive and curious chef who is always trying to invent techniques with traditional products — using unusual (to say the least) ingredients like fish eyeballs (as a sauce thickener) and plankton.
Not long after Corey Lee, Thomas Keller’s wunderkind chef de cuisine at the French Laundry, left to open his own place, San Francisco’s food critics were waiting hungrily for the debut of Benu, which finally opened in August. Despite the high-altitude expectations and prices (the 12-course menu is $160), the response has been impressive. Michael Bauer, food critic at The San Francisco Chronicle, recently awarded the chef three and a half stars and noted a “beautifully crafted menu that looks eastward for inspiration.”
DINNER BY HESTON BLUMENTHAL
The highly respected British chef Heston Blumenthal, winner of three Michelin stars at his Fat Duck restaurant, has been researching British recipes that date as far back as the 14th century. They will serve as inspiration for his new, much anticipated outpost, Dinner by Heston Blumenthal, which is scheduled to open in London’s Mandarin Oriental hotel at the end of this month. While dining on dishes like hay-smoked mackerel with a lemon salad and gentleman’s relish, guests will be able to see into the kitchen through a floor-to-ceiling glass wall and watch its modern stainless steel pulley system, modeled on a 16th-century design for the Royal British Court’s kitchens.
LONG ISLAND CITY, N.Y.
If there happens to be an uptick in passengers on the 7 train to Queens, it might be thanks to the word-of-mouth engendered by this retrofitted diner, overseen by Hugue Dufour, formerly chef at Au Pied de Cochon in Montreal, and his wife, Sarah Obraitis. When it opened in July, M. Wells served only breakfast; it is now open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., with the intention of opening for dinner once a liquor license is obtained. For now, the menu is a glutinous celebration of Montreal and American dishes and ingredients like pickled pig’s tongue, escargots and bone marrow, and a much-loved breakfast sandwich.
Last spring the popular and well-respected food blogger Pim Techamuanvivit, following a friend’s recommendation, tracked down this restaurant in a village in the French Riviera. Mauro Colagreco, the Argentine chef at Mirazur, paid his dues at the acclaimed, vegetable-friendly L’Arpège in Paris, so it’s no surprise that he grows some of the restaurant’s produce on the premises. In 2009, he was named Chef of the Year by Gault-Millau, becoming the first non-French chef to be given that title. Ms. Techamuanvivit raved in her blog entry about her meal there: “I still dream of the impossibly sweet red prawn, enrobed by ribbons of fresh young asparagus, borage and wild garlic blossoms and a drizzle of buttery Ligurian olive oil.”
In just a few years, the chef David Chang has come to be a major force on the New York scene, as he’s expanded his Momofuku empire to include five restaurants. So the foodie gossip mills started churning when he recently announced that he will be opening his first restaurant outside New York: a Momofuku outlet in Sydney’s Star City casino. It will develop its own menu, limited to “the abundance of Australia,” he wrote in an e-mail. “We will try not to import anything except some wine and Japanese products like shoyu,” he added, referring to a type of soy sauce. Mr. Chang will trade kitchen duties with Peter Serpico, the chef at Ko, the high-end Momofuku branch in downtown Manhattan.
Only a few weeks after the October opening of Restaurant Andre, in Singapore’s lively Chinatown district, the chef Andre Chiang is wowing even the city’s most critical gourmands with French-inspired dishes like braised eggplant with cockscombs and duck tongue. Having spent 14 years training in France at some of the country’s most revered destination restaurants, Mr. Chiang has finally found a place to come into his own.
If you happen to be as obsessed with grilling meat — and have as powerful a personality — as the Argentine chef Francis Mallmann, you can manage to pioneer a remote spot like the Uruguayan village of Garzon on your own. A few years ago he left the resort of José Ignacio, bought a chunk of Garzon and built a five-room hotel and restaurant that debuted in 2004 and has attracted the jet set to that dusty town ever since.
Ferran Adrià has not abandoned his cultish fans. Not long after he announced that he would close El Bulli, his wildly acclaimed restaurant, in 2012, he and his brother, Albert, signed on with the chefs who own the landmark Spanish seafood restaurant Rías de Galicia. This month, the team plans to open a contemporary tapas bar called Tickets, as well as a cocktail bar, in the Parallel neighborhood. Tickets will be far less formal than El Bulli, though its food and space will embrace a sense of the theatrical, with “stages” set up throughout the restaurant. At one, classic seafood tapas, like red shrimps from Costa Brava and razor shells from Galicia, will be showcased; at another, more-experimental small plates will star, like artichokes with smoked Idiazábal cheese serum.
LUMMI ISLAND, WASH.
Willows Inn, on the tiny San Juan island of Lummi, is about two hours from Seattle by car and ferry. Yet it is about to become a destination restaurant, thanks to its new chef, Blaine Wetzel. The 24-year-old, formerly the protégé of Rene Redzepi at Noma, the Copenhagen restaurant that was ranked the “best restaurant in the world” for 2010 by S. Pellegrino, took over the kitchen at Willows last year. The restaurant itself reopens in February; expect a menu with an obsessive focus on local ingredients, in the style of Noma. Since he was hired, Mr. Wetzel has been working with a farmer and an urchin diver who work solely for him.
This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:
Correction: January 16, 2011
An article last Sunday about 10 restaurants to watch in 2011 inadvertently omitted the name of a restaurant in a passage about the culinary experience of Mauro Colagreco, the Argentine chef at Mirazur, in Menton, France. The acclaimed, vegetable-friendly restaurant in Paris where he paid his dues is L’Arpège.