Tasting Room Africa/Middle East best in World’s 50 Best Restaurants


The 2011 S. Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurants awards ceremony was held last night, and number 2 Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant The Tasting Room at Le Quartier Français, with chef Margot Janse at the helm, was the only South African restaurant to make the prestigious Top 50 list, for the seventh year running, and won Best Restaurant in Africa/Middle East, at 36th position, down from number 31 last year.  The top restaurant on the World’s 50 Best is Noma from Copenhagen, its second successive year at the top. France remains the country with the most Best Restaurants, at seven, followed by Italy and the USA, with six each.

South Africa also featured in the 51-100 Restaurant ranking, with Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant Top Chef David Higg’s Rust en Vrede  team making 61st place (up from last year’s 74th place), enhancing the sadness about his departure from the restaurant in June, and La Colombe (now without Luke Dale-Roberts) at 82nd place, a vast fall from 12th position last year.

Rank Position Restaurant Country Awards
1 Noma Denmark The S.Pellegrino Best Restaurant in the World. The Acqua Panna Best Restaurant in Europe
2 Up 2 El Celler De Can Roca Spain  
3 Up 2 Mugaritz Spain  
4 Up 2 Osteria Francescana Italy The Chefs’ Choice sponsored by Electrolux
5 Down 2 The Fat Duck England  
6 Up 1 Alinea USA The Acqua Panna Best Restaurant In North America
7 Up 11 D.O.M Brazil The Acqua Panna Best Restaurant In South America
8 Up 1 Arzak Spain  
9 Up 2 Le Chateaubriand France  
10 Per Se USA  
11 Down 3 Daniel USA  
12 Up 12 Les Creations de Narisawa Japan The Acqua Panna Best Restaurant In Asia
13 Up 3 L’Astrance France  
14 Up 15 L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon France  
15 Up 2 Hof van Cleve Belgium  
16 Down 3 Pierre Gagnaire France  
17 Up 2 Oud Sluis Netherlands  
18 Down 3 Le Bernardin USA  
19 Re-Entry L’Arpege France  
20 Up 28 Nihonryori RyuGin Japan Highest Climber Sponsored by Lavazza
21 Up 1 Vendome Germany  
22 Down 1 Steirereck Austria  
23 Up 7 Schloss Schauenstein Switzerland  
24 Up 26 Eleven Madison Park USA  
25 Up 9 Aqua Germany  
26 Up 1 Quay Australia The Acqua Panna Best Restaurant In Australasia
27 Up 1 Iggy’s Singapore  
28 Up 7 Combal Zero Italy  
29 Up 4 Martin Berasategui Spain  
30 Re-Entry Bras France  
31 Up 15 Biko Mexico  
32 Down 12 Le Calandre Italy  
33 Re-Entry Cracco Italy  
34 New Entry The Ledbury UK Highest New Entry Sponsored by Silestone
35 Down 12 Chez Dominique Finland  
36 Down 5 Le Quartier Francais South Africa The Acqua Panna Best Restaurant In The Middle East and Africa
37 New Entry Amber China  
38 Down 2 Dal Pescatore Italy  
39 Up 1 Il Canto Italy  
40 Down 14 Momofuku Ssam Bar USA  
41 Up 2 St John UK  
42 New Entry Astrid Y Gaston Peru  
43 Up 6 Hibiscus UK  
44 Maison Troisgros France  
45 Down 4 Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athenee France  
46 Down 9 De Librije Netherlands  
47 Down 33 Restaurant de l’Hotel De Ville Switzerland  
48 New Entry Varvary Russia  
49 New Entry Pujol Mexico  
50 Re-Entry Asador Etxebarri Spain  

 The S. Pellegrino awards are organised by The Restaurant  magazine, and the award-winning restaurants are nominated by and voted for by “800 international restaurant industry experts”, says the S. Pellegrino 50 Best Restaurants website. “What constitutes ‘best’ is left to the judgement of these trusted and well-travelled gourmets.  There is no pre-determined check-list of criteria”, the website says, and the results are a “simple computation of votes”.  The World’s 50 Best Restaurants is an ‘honourable survey of current tastes and a credible indicator of the best places to eat round the globe”.  There are no requirements for eligibility for the ranking, and the length of time that the restaurant has been open, and the culinary awards won are not taken into consideration for the vote.   For the first time, a livestream presentation allowed one to watch the Awards ceremony from the comfort of one’s home, making one feel part of the ceremony.

Other Awards presented were the following:

*  2011 One to Watch: Frantzen & Lindeberg from Stockholm (number 57) 

*   Lifetime Achievement Award: Juan Mari Arzak (number eight)

*   Chef’s Choice:   Osteria Francescana (number 4)

*   Fastest Climber: Nihonryori Ryugin of Japan (number 20)

*   World’s Best Female Chef: Anne-Sophie Pic, of Maison Pic, first female Michelin three star chef in France

Last year Noma also was named the Best Restaurant in the world, with chef René Redzepi at the helm.  Ferran Adria’s El Bulli, long in number one position, was second, and Heston Blumenthal’s The Fat Duck came third. Adria withdrew from this year’s awards, as he is closing his restaurant for an indefinite period of time.

Tamsin Snyman heads up the Southern African judging team, stepping into her late mother Lannice Snyman’s shoes.   Lannice held this position for years.  What is odd is that the performance of South African restaurants on the Wold’s 50 Best Restaurants and Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant Awards  has been so different, Le Quartier Français’ Tasting Room consistently having done well on the international Awards list, even when it did not make the Eat Out list in the past.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com  Twitter: @WhaleCottage

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10 replies on “Tasting Room Africa/Middle East best in World’s 50 Best Restaurants”

  1. Chris, go and have a look at the article on the San Pellegrino awards in the New York Times- it is clear that the judging system holds little credibility and the only reasons that restaurants actively pursue the award is the immense profits that come with it.

    Judges are only allowed to nominate or vote for restaurans they have actually eaten at in the last 18 months (which essentially disqualifies a restaurant such as Luke Dale Roberts’ Test Kitchen, having been open for less than 6 months.) It is wel known that restaurateurs often “invite” judges to give them that oppurtunity to eat, without paying. Reputable masters of the kitchen such as Guy Savoy have declined participation. I smell a big, furry rat!

  2. You are absolutely right about the rat.

    I could tell you an interesting story about the South African situation in respect of the San Pellegrino Restaurant Awards, and my last sentence in the blogpost hints at it. I am happy to tell you over a glass of wine, but could not write it out of respect for the late Lannice Snyman.


  3. I’m definately not pointing fingers at the Snymans, Chris, neither Lannice nor Tamsin- I have the greatest respect for the integrity of both. I just think that the rules of the voting system does serious damage to the validity of the results. Judges are obliged to cast 7 votes, 3 of which MUST be for restaurants outside of their “zone” South Africa remains small-fry in the international culinary community, but we are practically the only country in our zone with any restaurants worth mentioning. Rust&Vrede has deservedly moved up in the rankings, and I have little doubt that Luke Dale Roberts will be back with a vengeance next year. Incidentally, judging by a meal I had at Chefs warehouse last week, I also have no doubt that chef Liam Tomlin would have been right up there with the contenders, if he had to open a Cape Town restaurant next week. Perhaps we would be ranked more appropriately of we were competing in the same zone as Australia!

  4. Any restaurant judging system is bound to be controversial Kobus.

    The 12 Eat Out Top 10 restaurants caused a huge outcry in 2009, with new categories created and joint place winners. Last year’s choice of Aubergine as the best restaurant in Cape Town caused a stir too.

    As long as the judging system is consistent, year on year, and within a given year, there should be no problem in accepting the results. Given that we are so far from the world gourmet stage, La Colombe’s 12th position last year was miraculous. I agree about Luke Dale-Roberts for 2012.


  5. Liam Tomlin has already had one restaurant go bust, I don’t think he will want a repeat performance.

  6. Having a restaurant go bust is often not neccesarily a reflection on the food, Sam. In fact, many a top chef as been involved in restaurants that went belly-up, or jumped ship just before. Fact remains, Liam’s food and culinary skills are superb, and a visit to Chefs warehouse is allways a joy.

  7. He may well be a good cook but I find Chefs Warehouse very very expensive, I have seen items on sale at Chefs Warehouse at 30/40% more than the Waterfront for the identical item. No value for money there which is key in these times.

  8. I agree, what an expensive shop. I went there with my wife once and we could not believe the prices.

  9. I disagree. Most of the kitchen equipment I have bought there are not available elsewhere, and the prices match or are even somewhat cheaper than websites such as yuppiechef.co.za. But then again, Sam, I do think that one can buy the cheaper chinese rip-off versions at shops like @home in the Waterfront- if you don’t mind replacing it again after a couple of months. The pantry is well-stocked with hard-to-come-by dried goods and delicacies that, although not cheap, are often cheaper than buying the same items from other delicatessens or even open-air markets in Cape Town.

    The only prices I could find fault with are the books- if you hunt around on websites, you can find the same titles at 15-25% less- but the prices are mostly the same as Exclusive Books’ stock.It’s still a joy to have all of this available from one location, and with such excellent service as well.

  10. That shop is a rip off, look on the internet and things are 40% cheaper, the rent is not that bloody expensive !

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