CNTraveler reveals the worlds most beautiful restaurants – from a candlelit courtyard in Ibiza to our very own foraging sensation in South Africa. From their list of 35 we have selected 10 restaurants based on their uniqueness, and the once in a lifetime experience on offer.
Veg-centric cooking in Palma’s loveliest hotel
The forces of nature seem irrepressible at Botànic, a restaurant in a restored 16th-century mansion turned hidden-away place to stay. Ivy creepers wheedle their way back through parlour walls, bird cages swing from the ceiling, everything chirps with vitality. The vision of spritely chef Andrés Benitez (ex Michelin-starred Bou) is an ode to Mallorca’s horticultural wonders. For his smart take on healthy eating, he invents, deconstructs and recalibrates recipes to deliver a nutritious score of flavours. The steamed avocado, for example, sits on a colourful cushion of pumpkin puree, broccolini and grapefruit. Set on the edge of Palma’s largest private garden, this is the most life-enhancing feast in the Balearics right now.
By Stephanie Rafanelli
Address: Forn de la Glória 14 – 07012 Palma de Mallorca, Baleares, Spain
Telephone: +34 871 871 202
In a former warehouse that’s entirely sealed from natural light, Alchemist takes dining to epic proportions: 50 immersive courses served in five rooms over six hours. One space replicates the sights and sounds of New York City; in another, guests watch the chefs working with hi-tech, lab-like equipment in front of jars of freeze-dried ingredients (pictured). There’s an air of rebellion at this Copenhagen joint. Young-gun chef Rasmus Munk’s experimental plates range from fun – solid G&Ts; white fermented-tomato snowballs – to shocking and confrontational. Cod jaw is topped with pickled dill and edible plastic; chicken feet protrude from a tiny cage; lamb’s brain is sliced at the table; a dish of sharp ice chunks floating in red liquid is named ‘blood diamond’. Everything can be made for vegans, including the brain, replaced with Jerusalem-artichoke purée and coated in cherry sauce. In the domed main room – where dreamlike overhead projections change from an aurora-borealis-filled sky to jellyfish drifting beside plastic bags – diners are invited to kiss strawberries and edible petals off a rubber tongue. Elsewhere, apple-sauce ‘antibiotics’ are injected into a morsel of pork. In an age when food consumption has become an environmental issue, Munk is using the plate as his platform to speak out. A night here might just spark the most interesting dinner conversations you’ve ever had.
By Clare Vooght
Address: Alchemist, Refshalevej 173C, DK-1432, Copenhagen
Telephone: +45 31 71 61 61
WOLFGAT, SOUTH AFRICA
A foraged find in South Africa
The 20 seats in this humble cottage above a beach in Paternoster, two hours from Cape Town, get snapped up months in advance. Here, chef Kobus van der Merwe has gained a cult following for his foraged beach vegetation menu. But success didn’t arrive overnight. He has been pioneering sustainable cooking on South Africa’s west coast for a decade – first at Oep ve Koep (the tiny bistro he still runs in his parents’ farm stall) and now at Wolfgat, pictured, named after a nearby cave which contains remnants of an early civilisation. Today, he uses ingredients typical of the ancient diet of the nomadic Strandlopers, who combed the shores of this stark coast. Seasonal foods include bokkoms (dried fish), veldkool (flower buds) and pickled slangbessies berries. Wild oysters are whipped into a pâté with housemade fynbos-infused vermouth and foraged purslane. And for pudding there might be crispy kelp served with sweet pear ice cream. This off-the-beaten-track spot is worth the significant detour out of the city. By Jane Broughton
Address: Wolfgat, 10 Sampson St, Kliprug, Paternoster, 7381, South Africa
‘I take what’s undesired and make people want it,’ says Opas Chantkam, founder of FV (Fruits and Vegetables), a low-key, high-concept juice bar in Bangkok’s Chinatown. The Thailand native left a career as a creative director in London and New York to return home to where, he says, ‘the balance was off’.
Irked by the fact that local farmers could barely make ends meet because modern food consumption requires unblemished, highly modified goods, he set out to make a difference. Working with natural farms and research groups, he re-grows Thai crops to prevent them dying out. The produce (shogun oranges, guavas, red tamarind) ends up in FV’s kitchen, where pulpy drinks bring out the fruit’s flavours. Even the ultimate unwanted flora make it onto the menu in weed juices, made from ivy gourd and sleeping grass.
This anti-industrial ethos extends to the interiors. Beneath the mirrored ceiling stands a reconstructed original, stilted Isaan dwelling; Buddhist art hangs on the walls; glasses are fashioned from discarded bottles. FV’s mission is admirable – it walks the locavore talk and provides a much-needed antidote to the city’s increasingly over-polished restaurant scene.
By Chris Schalkx
Address: FV, 827 Song Wat Road, Bangkok
Telephone: +66 81 866 0533
OUTSTANDING IN THE FIELD, USA
A back-to-the-land roving restaurant without walls
When pioneering chef and artist Jim Denevan hosted his first supper club in a California orchard in 1999, his idea – to bring the kitchen to the source while reconnecting diners with the land – was simple yet trailblazing. More than 20 years later, the venues keep getting cooler. This year, among others, is a mezcal distillery in a remote Oaxacan agave field, a seaside retreat on Nicaragua’s Emerald Coast and a wooden pier in Malibu with the waves breaking below. With each dinner, Denevan’s 150-person tablescape creates an otherworldly artwork: stretched across a ridge overlooking the Pacific on a ranch in Australia’s Byron Bay or arching through a golden pasture in Texas, pictured. But what ensures its cultish popularity is the killer food: ambrosial lamb curry cooked amid the foothills of Virginia, bowls of stracciatella di bufala with tomatoes from a fourth-generation farm in Connecticut. Keep a keen eye out for location releases because most of the family-style feasts sell out within an hour.
By Lauren Matison
BAR SHUKA, FRANKFURT
A taste of Tel Aviv in Frankfurt
Though new Israeli flavours have taken root all over the globe it’s still a surprise to find some of the most exciting iterations in Germany’s financial capital. Frankfurt’s Bahnhofsviertel, a red-light district long avoided by locals, is home to the majority of the city’s 180 nationalities — arguably the most international quarter in the world. It has become a bit of a foodie hub, too, ever since the arrival of German-Jewish entrepreneurs David and James Ardinast and their restaurant, Stanley Diamond, and deli, Maxie Eisen. For their latest brainchild, Bar Shuka (shuk means ‘market’ in Hebrew), the Ardinast brothers enlisted chefs Stephan Kaiser and Yossi Elad — the mastermind behind The Palomar in London — to create a standout menu. Dishes include shared plates spiced up with homemade harissa and za’atar; pillowy pita; roasted cauliflower with tomato salsa and almonds; oxtail ravioli with polenta; and crispy aubergine with mango puree. There’s also a velvety speakeasy sake bar, but the action is in the restaurantwhere neon letter spell ‘friendship’ in Hebrew and Arabic. It’s a lively spot — the volume ramps up as the night unfolds, with dancing on tabletops actively encouraged.
By Florian Siebeck
Address: Bar Shuka Niddastraße 56, 60329 Frankfurt am Main, Germany
Telephone: +49 69 2566772280
A bush restaurant from the man who put Bondi icebergs on the map
In a most unexpected location, an hour’s drive from Sydney on the Central Coast, is a new no-expenses-spared restaurant. Anywhere else, its boot-scootin’ cowboy aesthetic might be on the wrong side of kitsch. But here, on 25 acres overlooking a large dam and surrounded by thick and dry, sepia-toned bush landscape, it works. Saddles was opened by John Singleton, the most moneyed advertising big shot in Sydney – if not Australia – who once owned Bondi’s scene-stealing Icebergs.
Here it feels like the Man from Snowy River has retired in prosperity and turned his ranch into a daybreak escape for city-slickers. There are grand sandstone fireplaces and leather saddles doubling as bar stools – crafted at a cost of up to £4,000 each by artisanal master saddler Heath Harris. The food is simple and hearty, and completely unpretentious: whole roast chickens, tender lamb shoulder and meat pies packed with rich, slow-cooked beef chunks steeped in red wine. Everything from the tomato sauce to the still-warm sourdough is made here, and native ingredients such as finger limes, lemon myrtle and Davidson plums are picked from the restaurant garden; the drinks list, bar the Champagne, is all-Australian, too. Saddles has injected some oomph into the go-slow coast, a once lo-fi spot that’s now attracting a savvy Sydney crowd every weekend. Among a smattering of new openings in the area, this is certainly the place to be for Sunday lunch – worthy of a motorway detour in its own right. By Chloe Sachdev
Address: Saddles, 20 Ashbrookes Road, Mount White, New South Wales, Australia
Telephone: +2 4370 1152
ROOM 4 DESSERT, UBUD, BALI
Will Goldfarb is the Willy Wonka of Bali. His story started in New York: after a stint at Spain’s El Bulli and a few pastry-chef roles, he struck gold with the original Room 4 Dessert, a 20-seater pudding bar in Nolita that quickly obtained rave reviews as well as regulars including film director Wes Anderson.
When it was shuttered following a fallout with his partners, Goldfarb upped sticks and relaunched it in Bali – this time flanked by palm trees, with ingredients such as fresh cocoa, palm sugar and soursop on his doorstep. His all-pudding tasting menu features Incidente Stradale, mixing jamu, a traditional tonic, with coconut and coffee, while Angel’s Kiss is made with jackfruit, pandan and mango. All of his creations are paired with wine or a cocktail – the Planifoglia, a cheesecake-like sabayon, is matched with a vodka-based mangosteen and hibiscus concoction.
The surrounding gardens are put to work, meaning medicinal herbs will be picked minutes before they’re used. Combining Goldfarb’s skills with his passion for Bali’s local ingredients has been a sweet success – this is the most exciting restaurant in Indonesia, if not Asia, right now.
By Anna Chittenden
Address: Room 4 Dessert Jl. Raya Sanggingan, Kedewatan, Ubud Kabupaten Gianyar, Bali 80561, Indonesia
Telephone: +62 813-3705-0539
BOTTEGA IL BUCO, IBIZA
In 1994 then couple Donna Lennard and Alberto Avalle started serving lunch at their antique shop in Manhattan. Their rustic Italian food quickly led to Il Buco becoming a perennially packed New York City stalwart, where artists, actors and East Villagers still mingle (artist Chuck Closeis a regular). Now the two have reunited to open their first restaurant outside the USA in, of all places, Ibiza. New for summer 2018, Bottega Il Buco is a Roman-style focacceria and wine bar in the curiously smart village of Santa Gertrudis, which, just like the NYC restaurant, is stuffed with vintage furniture and artisan terracotta tableware from Lennard’s home collection.
The tiny open kitchen turns out focaccia, of course, as well as Italian meats and cheeses, homemade pasta and creative crudos(try the red-prawn tartare). There are Spanish influences on the menu too, with dishes such as Ibicencan orange salad with pistachios and chilli. This place has quickly evolved into an insider’s spot, with islanders gathering for morning espressos and in-the-know visitors sipping biodynamic wines under the blue awning in the evening. Once again, Lennard and Avalle’s less is more approach has created a local institution in a matter of minutes.
By Meredith MaltbyAddress: Bottega Il Buco, Carrer Vénda de Parada, 12, 07814 Santa Gertrudis de Fruitera, Illes Balears, Spain
Telephone: +34 971 19 76 76
QUADRI RESTAURANT, VENICE
Over the years this grand café gained a list of regulars that included Lord Byron, Alexandre Dumas and Marcel Proust. But the romantic veneer of the square diminished amid the relentless commercialism that swept over Venice at the end of the 20th century (along with pigeon photographers and gondolier hats), and Quadri was no longer quite the place to be seen. Then, in 2011, chef Massimiliano Alajmo and his brother Raffaele arrived, a duo with three Michelin stars at Le Calandre in Padua, and it wasn’t long before Quadri earned one of its own.
The Max and Raf menus highlight each of the brother’s personalities; Max is the innovative one, Raf the more traditional. But the tasting menu – 16 courses for two – is a combination of both, with dishes such as cappuccino di laguna, a mix of lagoon seafood and moeche, a soft-shell crab only found in the Venetian islands served with green fronds of samphire-like agretti.
Yet it is only this year that the restaurant’s 250-year-old interior caught up with the kitchen’s contemporary attitude. Philippe Starck, the man responsible for projects as diverse as the Mama Shelter hotels, Steve Job’s yacht and the interiors for a new space station, set to launch in 2020, has uncovered the palace’s original stuccowork from beneath layer upon layer of paint. Old-fashioned wall coverings have been replaced with earthy tones modelled on a 16th-century silk brocade – but look closely as there are rockets and satellites as well as portraits of Massimiliano and Raffaele within the fabric. And on shelves above the doors, whimsical taxidermy rabbits and foxes are ready to take flight, a nod to the winged lion that guards the city. Reserve a table by the window on the first floor for a front-row view over the square, high above the crowds – because this is once again the most-coveted spot in Venice.
By Erica Firpo
Address: Quadri Restaurant, Piazza San Marco, 121, 30124 Venice, Italy
Telephone: +39 041 522 2105
Edited by Tabitha Joyce
[The Debrief: The Worlds most Beautiful Restuarants]