Take a traditional dish and add a whole lot of imagination. Andy Lynes goes in search of culinary inspiration

Great restaurants are about more than just the food, drink and service. Some have that extra special something that can take you on a journey that will last long after the final drop of wine has disappeared from the glass.

The menu created by Pascal Barbot at L'Astrance 4 rue Beethoven, Paris (00 33 1 40 50 84 40), will take you to a new culinary dimension - langoustines are served with a butter sauce flavoured with coconut milk and tamarind, while the sorbet tastes of lemongrass and red pepper.

Self-taught chef Santi Santamaria has won three Michelin stars at Can Fabes, Sant Joan 6, Sant Celoni, Spain (00 34 938 672 851; racocanfabes.com). He takes his customers on a trip through traditional Catalan cuisine with plenty of modern global twists.

Andrew McConnell's inventive cooking has helped to make Circa, The Prince, 2 Acland Street, St Kilda, Victoria (00 61 3 9536 1122; theprince.com.au), one of Melbourne's most acclaimed restaurants.

The six-course degustation menu, offering dishes such as seared scallops, cauliflower and sorrel salad, orange sauce and almond milk, provides an insight into McConnell's wild imagination.

Voted one of the 50 best restaurants in the world, The Cliff, Derricks, St James, Barbados, Caribbean (001 246 432 1922; thecliff barbados.com),takes its customers on a voyage of culinary discovery.

Now diners can go on a real voyage: a Caribbean cruise off the west coast of the island on board a 136ft yacht complete with head chef Paul Owen and space for 40 diners.

Heston Blumenthal is best known for the innovative cooking at his famous Fat Duck restaurant, but just over the road at The Hinds Head Hotel, The High Street, Bray (01628 626151; the hinds headhotel.com), you can go back to Tudor times with his "quaking pudding", a baked cream dessert.

Go back to the future at Moto, 945 West Fulton Market Street, Chicago (001 312 491 0058; motorestaurant .com) where chef Homaro Cantu uses ion particle guns and class IV lasers to prepare his "postmodern cuisine". Expect to find the likes of lobster with squeezed orange soda or doughnut soup.

Sakuragawa, 1&2 F Nihonbashi Mitsui Tower, 2-1-2 Nihonbashi Muromachi, Tokyo (00 81 3 3279 0039), is one of Japan's most highly-rated "itamae kappo" or masterchef restaurants. Chef Kurahash servesspecialities from Osaka.

At wd-50, 50 Clinton Street, New York (001 212 477 2900; wd-50.com), you can start your no-holds-barred modernist meal with octopus, asparagus and camomile yogurt, and finish with parsnip cake, coconut cream cheese sorbet, carrot and walnuts.