The restaurants making waves around the world. Words Ute Junker
If you’re the type of traveller who books your restaurants before you book your flights, read on. From Bangkok to Los Angeles, here are the hottest tables out there.
Sessions Arts Club
Why it’s hot: An acclaimed chef stages a comeback in what may be London’s loveliest dining room.
Tell me more: It has been almost 10 years since Florence Knight, the head chef of Soho’s chic Polpetto, walked away from the restaurant business. What lured her back to the kitchen? The chance to work in this stunning former courthouse in Clerkenwell was a large part of it. With its shabby-chic interiors — think jade-painted walls, gold cornices and dark leather banquettes — Sessions Arts Club is part restaurant, part wine bar, part art gallery, and altogether dazzling.
What to order: Knight’s food is simple and seasonal. Try the sea bream with fig leaf and sorrel, followed by almond cake with lemon curd and cream.
And to drink: Cocktails match the decadent mood at this restaurant, with plum bellinis the smart choice. Non-drinkers can opt for a melon and rose soda or a fig leaf fizz.
Why it’s hot: A celebrity chef goes back to her roots in Bangkok’s Chinatown.
Tell me more: Pichaya “Chef Pam” Utharntharm’s career has taken her to some unusual places, from a Michelin-starred restaurant in New York to the TV studio for a stint on “Top Chef Thailand”. At Potong she has come full circle, showcasing the Thai-Chinese food she grew up eating in an old shophouse built by her forebears.
What to order: No need for tough choices here, thanks to the 20-course degustation menu. Pace yourself; you don’t want to miss the finale of black soy sauce ice cream.
And to drink: Arrive early for cocktails in the seriously sexy Opium Bar upstairs, then match your meal with a selection of natural, sustainable and biodynamic wines by the glass.
Why it’s hot: A star chef blazes even more brightly at this new venture.
Tell me more: You might have thought Arnaud Donckele had nothing left to achieve. His La Vague d’Or restaurant in St Tropez has held three Michelin stars for nearly a decade and he has notched up a nice collection of chef of the year awards. Now Donckele has knocked it out of the park with his new Parisian restaurant, Plénitude, scooping up three Michelin stars just six months after opening.
What to order: Donckele’s tasting menu is built around sauces, sabayons, veloutés and vinaigrettes. His red mullet, for instance, is served with a rockfish “bravade” redolent with pastis, cognac, fennel, orange peel, basil and roast vegetable sabayon.
And to drink: Choose between two different wine pairings. If your pockets are deep enough, the premium pairing includes some superb rare vintages.
Why it’s hot: A pioneering mod-Mexican chef takes a different turn.
Tell me more: Ray Garcia led a revolution in Latin food with his restaurant Broken Spanish, which proved just how well Mexican flavours can work in a fine-dining setting. At Asterid, his new restaurant inside the Frank Gehry-designed Walt Disney Concert Hall building, Garcia returns to his classical roots while still showcasing the best ingredients from around California.
What to order: A menu of global flavours means there’s something to suit every mood. Try the beef tenderloin tartare with black truffles or the sunchoke (Jerusalem artichoke) rösti with strawberry-pepper jam. Leave room for dessert: the lemon curd and poppy seed tart is a winner.
And to drink: The cocktail list, which includes plenty of zero-alcohol options,
is outstanding. Try the mezcal and rice cocktail with kumquat vermouth, cacao, toasted rice and Legendario Domingo mezcal.
Why it’s hot: Some come for the food, others for the interiors.
Tell me more: Restaurant decor doesn’t get much more flamboyant than this. Each of the four dining rooms has its own vibe, but all of them would fit right into a Wes Anderson film. Hard to say which is more eye-catching: the chesterfields and antique rifles in the Officer’s Club or the scalloped arches and playful pachyderms in the Elephant Palace. The flavour-packed plates offer a new take on Indian classics, with vegetarian choices making up half the menu.
What to order: East meets west in the signature dish, the prata waffle. A waffle-pressed prata is topped with Madras-style fried chicken, served with butter chicken sauce and jaggery syrup.
This is an extract from an article that appears in print in our fifth edition, Page 54 of Winning Magazine with the headline: “Hot plates”. Subscribe to Winning Magazine today.