No.1: El Bulli, SpainAccolade upon accolade has been heaped on this foodie haven on the Costa Brava. This is the fourth year in a row that Spanish chef Ferran Adrià’s innovative cooking has scooped the top spot. You’ll have to be dedicated if you want to eat there: 2009 is fully booked, so check the website in December to find out how to grab a table in 2010 – and how to get to the out-of-the-way location.
What’s on the menu: You’ll pay around £145 for the tasting menu and there’s a long procession of dishes, some of which you’re given instructions on how to eat. They include coils of olive oil which dissolve in the mouth, and “Parmesan air” sprinkled with dried fruit.
Post-restaurant: The restaurant is near Roses, a holiday resort, and from here you can head out to beaches and coves, as well as checking out the local Salvador Dali connection.
Get there: Compare prices on flights to Girona, the nearest airport at 75km away. From there, hire a car to get to Roses. See the El Bulli website.
No.2: The Fat Duck, UK“Culinary alchemist” Heston Blumenthal has been working his magic in his kitchen in the Berkshire village of Bray since 1995. His innovative food combinations, including the likes of snails and porridge, have won him numerous accolades, including three Michelin stars.
What’s on the menu: The £130 tasting menu includes dishes such as roast foie gras “benzaldehyde”, with almond fluid gel, cherry and chamomile; pine sherbet fountain; and nitro-scrambled egg and bacon ice cream.
Post-restaurant: The picture-postcard village of Bray is also home to another Michelin star winner, The Waterside Inn. Windsor is only a few miles away so stop off to explore the grand castle.
Get there: From London Paddington, take the 40-50 minute train ride to Maidenhead and then a five-minute taxi ride. Alternatively, get driving directions to Bray. See the Fat Duck website.
No.3: Noma, Denmark
This Copenhagen restaurant has shot up seven places from last year. Head chef and owner Rene Redzepi’s approach is to source Nordic ingredients and serve them with a twist.
What’s on the menu: A three-course lunch menu costs around £89, and includes dishes such as fresh duck egg from Gotland and wild watercress; skate and vegetable stems; and baby rhubarb and beetroot juice.
Post-restaurant: Noma is located in the Christianshavn area of Copenhagen, at the edge of the quay – a lovely place for a stroll. The area also has a number of cool pubs for chilling out in.
Get there: Compare prices on flights to Copenhagen and see the Noma website.
No.4: Mugaritz, SpainSan Sebastian has become Spain’s gastronomic capital and molecular gastronomy is on the menu courtesy of Andoni Aduriz, who served his apprenticeship at El Bulli.
What’s on the menu: Don’t miss the foie gras – Aduriz has studied the stuff for two years. His weird and wonderful creations include chocolate cake with chocolate bubbles, and dishes that incorporate the flavours of local flowers and herbs. Expect to pay around £89.
Post-restaurant: Book a surf course – but not just after your massive tasting menu! Or take a walking tour around the city.
Get there: The restaurant is in a village 30 minutes outside San Sebastian. Compare prices on flights and see the website.
No 5: El Celler de Can Roca, SpainThe Rocas (Joan “the savoury mind”, Josep “the liquid mind” and Jordi “the sweet mind”) are the folk behind this chic restaurant that aims to “delineate a scenario where emotions and sensations excite and fill the palate”. Er, quite. But their approach has won them a legion of fans and they’re making the Costa Brava a foodie Mecca, along with El Bulli.
What’s on the menu? Dishes might include pigeon bonbon with Bristol Cream; or kid belly with goat’s milk parmentier. Around £84 will get you the menu degustacion.
Post-restaurant: Don’t miss the impressive Baroque cathedral, and be sure to take a stroll around the old Jewish Quarter with its maze of streets.
Get there: Compare prices on flights to Girona and see the restaurant website.