Revealed! The 50 best restaurants in the world. Shock! 14 of them are British

Official: the home of bangers, madras and Turkey Twizzlers is the world's restaurant capital. And it's not just down to Messrs Ramsay, Blumenthal and Blanc. It's the waiters, too. By Steve Bloomfield
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Indy Lifestyle Online

The British Empire was said to have been created by generations of desperate Englishmen roaming the world in search of a decent meal. No longer. A definitive study by an influential industry magazine will tomorrow reveal that one in four of the best restaurants in the globe is to be found on these shores.

The British Empire was said to have been created by generations of desperate Englishmen roaming the world in search of a decent meal. No longer. A definitive study by an influential industry magazine will tomorrow reveal that one in four of the best restaurants in the globe is to be found on these shores.

Restaurant will claim that Britain has more world-class restaurants than such culinary heavyweights as France, the US and Italy.

More than 500 chefs, food writers and restaurant experts from around the world were involved in compiling a definitive list of the 50 best places to eat in the world. Judges included Chinese chef Ken Hom, the former head chef at the Savoy, Anton Edelman, and the owner of two of the best restaurants in the US, Thomas Keller.

They concluded that 14 of the world's best restaurants are British - more than a quarter of the total. London is home to 11, and two, the Fat Duck and the Waterside Inn, are in Bray, Berkshire. Raymond Blanc's Le Manoir aux Quat' Saisons in Oxford completes the set.

Top British chefs that make it on to the list include Gordon Ramsay, his protégée Angela Hartnett, Heston Blumenthal and Tom Aikens.

The judges said that the wide variety of food, the quality and quantity of fresh produce and a plethora of Michelin-starred chefs has helped turn Britain's once derided cuisine into the envy of the world.

Immigration has also benefited the British restaurant scene, with more international cuisines here than in any other country.

The restaurants included have not just been chosen for their culinary excellence, but for the overall experience. Eateries with three Michelin stars to their name sit side by side with establishments such The Ivy, famed for the quality of service as much as the standard of the food.

The revival of British cuisine has been recognised in the US as well. America's leading food magazine, Gourmet, last month named London as the best place to eat in the world. It was the first time the magazine had dedicated a single issue to Britain.

Britain's tourism chiefs claim that a "quiet revolution" in food has fundamentally changed the image of British food abroad - so much so that they are placing British food and drink at the centre of their marketing strategy.

"We are focusing more on Britain as a culinary destination," said Elliot Frisby of VisitBritain.

"We have plenty of Michelin-starred restaurants and lots of great chefs. It is now a key element of all our international campaigns."

The editor of Restaurant, Ella Johnston, said the list showed the strength of Britain's restaurant business. "It is now an extension of the entertainment industry," she said. "Chefs are stars."

The rise of cookery shows and the success of such chefs as Gordon Ramsay and Jamie Oliver in connecting with a wider television audience were also a factor, she said.

"We are a nation that loves to eat out. It is a huge part of our culture now."

Mr Aikens, whose eponymous restaurant has been open for less than two years, said the sheer diversity of restaurants in London was unrivalled. "I don't think there is any city in the world quite like it," he said. "The mix of restaurants is amazing - everything you want flavour-wise you can get in London.

"Paris may still be seen to be the best, but you don't find many Chinese or Indian restaurants there."

His view was echoed by Mark Hix, chef director at The Ivy, which also makes it on to the list, and a food columnist for The Independent. "It is the variety and different types of cuisine that make Britain so good. We are spoilt for choice," he said.

"It is not just about who serves the best food. It is about the whole dining experience, from the room you are sitting in to the service you receive."

But not everyone is convinced. Irishman Richard Corrigan, head chef at Lindsay House in Soho, said Britain did not deserve to be judged as any better than France, Spain or Italy.

"There is a slight bias in the list," he said. "You need to take it with a very big pinch of salt."

Ms Johnston denied the claim of bias. She said: "This country produces really good chefs who are very open-minded. It is as simple as that."

Top Restaurants

The Fat Duck, Bray, Berkshire

Head chef: Guru of "molecular gastronomy" Heston Blumenthal

Signature dish: Carpaccio of cauliflower with chocolate jelly

Cost of meal: £37.50 for lunch, £97.50 for dinner

Ambience: According to Gourmet magazine, there is no other restaurant in the world which is as much fun as the Fat Duck

Mustn't leave without: Trying snail porridge or bacon and egg ice-cream. Nicer than they sound, apparently

Le Quartier Français, Cape Winelands, South Africa

Head chef: Dutch chef Margot Janse, part of an all-woman team

Signature dish: Olive-crusted salmon

Cost of meal: The gourmand menu, complete with braised neck of milk-fed goat and double-baked Ganzvlei vastrap cheddar soufflé costs 600 Rand (£50)

Ambience: A small inn set in the valley of Franschhoek

Mustn't leave without: Watching a classic film from the comfort of your armchair in the restaurant's private cinema

Per Se, New York

Head chef: Thomas Keller, probably the best chef in the US

Signature dish: Peach Melba - foie gras with pickled peaches

Cost of meal: Both the nine-course Chef's Tasting Menu and the five-course menu "with selections" will set you back $175 (£92)

Ambience: Despite its location in a Manhattan shopping mall, Per Se offers spectacular views across Central Park

Mustn't leave without: Buying a set of six Thomas Keller knives for $400. They come in a box which Keller himself has signed

Le Meurice, Paris

Head chef: Yannick Alléno, with two Michelin stars to his name Signature dish: Noix de coquilles saint jacques salées aux truffes blanches d'Alba - scallops with white truffles

Cost of meal: A snip at £77 for three-course meal, drink and tip

Ambience: Extravagant doesn't even begin to describe the dining room

Mustn't leave without: Using one of the Hermès stools for diners to rest their handbags on during their meal

Rockpool, Sydney

Head chef: Neil Perry, Australia's premier celebrity chef

Signature dish: John Dory seared on Indian pastry with a spice and yoghurt sauce

Cost of meal: A main course goes for £22 and the tasting menu is £65

Ambience: A heady mix of old colonial style and modern decor

Mustn't leave without: A recording of "Rockpool Dreaming", a ditty composed for the restaurant's 10th anniversary in 1999