First sitting: The world's hot tables

He's eaten his way around the world - and in all the best restaurants. Our food critic Terry Durack reveals the coolest places to unfurl your napkin


1: Play spot the celebrity in LA

Cancel the Movie Stars' Home Tour in Los Angeles and play spot-the-celebrity at Providence, recently opened by Michael Cimarusti. You may only get a booking if you, too, are a celebrity. The emphasis is on Cimarusti's highly polished take on seafood, leaning on French and Japanese influences. His salmon belly with salmon skin and salmon rillettes, Santa Barbara spot prawns with candied cumquat, and squid with pig's ears and piquillo pepper are bringing in rave reviews. LA Times's reviewer Irene Virbila called it "the most significant opening in LA in a long time".

Price per head: California Coastline menu and market menu $90 (£51) food only.

Book ahead: Five weeks.

Address: 5955 Melrose Avenue, Los Angeles (00 1 323 460 4170; providencela.com).

Can't get in? Try Dakota, a hot post-modern LA steakhouse with bar scene to match (001 323 769 8888).

2: A star turn in Paris

In 2001, restaurant critic Patricia Wells reviewed a pretty, 40-seat restaurant in the 16th arrondissement of Paris under the headline: "A star is born". She saidchef, Pascal Barbot, was "headed for nothing but success". A year later, L'Astrance received its first Michelin star. Two years later, its second. Barbot was named 2005 chef of the year by Gault et Millaut. Now it's more difficult to get a reservation at L'Astrance than at most Parisian three-stars. Among his most acclaimed dishes are avocado filamelle filled with crabmeat and flavoured with almond oil, hare terrine with sweet onion salad, and pigeon sauteed with paprika and cocoa, and slow-cooked monkfish with girolles and tomme d'Auvergne.

Price per head? €150 (£100) food only.

Book ahead: Two months.

Address: 4 Rue Beethoven, Paris (00 33 1 40 50 84 40).

Can't get in? Try Le Cinq at the Four Seasons Hotel George V, for chef Philippe Legendre's mix of classic and contemporary French cooking (00 33 1 4952 7000).

3: 'Nuclear hot' in Hong Kong

There is nothing like the arrival of a glamorous hotel to set the pulse racing in Hong Kong, especially when it has a gorgeous restaurant. Caprice, in the Four Seasons hotel, shares the DNA of the three-starred Le Cinq restaurant in the Four Seasons Hotel Georges V in Paris. The décor is a sleek fusion of eastern and western, while the cooking is resolutely French; the view of Victoria Harbour is Hong Kong on a plate. Former Le Cinq sous chef Vincent Thierry deftly re-invents the classics with dishes such as ballotine of foie gras with gingerbread jelly, langoustine tartare with watercress mousse, and roasted suckling pig with stewed broad beans and coriander. According to Grant Thatcher, the editor of the Luxe guide to Hong Kong, Caprice is not just hot, but "nuclear hot".

Price per head: A taste of Caprice menu HK$1,050 (£78) food only.

Book ahead: One month.

Address: Four Seasons, Hong Kong, 8 Finance Street, Central, Hong Kong (00 852 3196 8888; fourseasons.com/hong kong).

Can't get in? Try the Four Seasons' equally new, equally glamorous, and almost as hot Chinese restaurant, Lung King Heen (00 852 3196 8888).

4: Keep it cool in Bondi

Sydney's hottest restaurant, Icebergs Dining Room and Bar, shares its name and its premises with what has to be the coldest club in the country. The Bondi Icebergs are a legendary bunch of hardy souls who swim in the club's outdoor seawater pool every day, even in the depths of winter. While the club occupies the lower levels, the top floor, with its glorious box-seat views across Bondi Beach, has been given over to this chic, cushioned, candle-lit space. The blond and the sun-tanned go for chef Robert Marchetti's simple, sophisticated Mediterranean treatment of Australia's finest seafood. Everyone finishes with a mind-blowing sgroppino of lemon sorbet and Prosecco, instituted by the ultra-cool co-owner and front-of-house Maurizio Terzini. The coral trout risotto, spaghetti with clams and zucchini flowers, the cocktails, the vibe and the power of a Bondi sunset keep the heat levels so high you'll get a suntan over dinner.

Price per head: About A$75 (£32), food only.

Book ahead: Four weeks.

Address: 1 Notts Avenue, Bondi Beach, Sydney (00 612 9365 9000; idrb.com).

Can't get in? Try Justin North's highly rated Becasse, which just moved to new digs in the city (00 612 9283 3440).

5: Book (very) early in Spain

El bulli, a seaside restaurant in Spain, has been so hot for so long you'd think it would have burnt itself out. Yet every year it gets harder to book a table - a problem made more difficult by it only opening from April to October. This year, about 500,000 hopefuls tried for a mere 8,000 seats. Why the fuss? Chef Ferran Adria is the most important motivational force in food in the 21st century. After a classical culinary upbringing, he now breaks more rules than he has learnt, harnessing new technology and old showmanship. A "typical" meal consists of 30 courses of little surprises, and a few shocks. There could be a deconstructed pina colada, black olive cup cakes, seaweed croquante, freeze-dried foie gras, parmesan "marshmallows", "sniff and crack" ceps, corn and guacamole cannoli, or cauliflower couscous.

Price per head: €155 (£104) food only.

Book ahead: 2006 almost booked out already.

Address: Cala Montjoi, Vercel de las Nieves, Roses, Spain (00 34 9 7215 0457; elbulli.com).

Can't get in? Try Ferran Adria's two Michelin-starred La Alqueria restaurant at Hacienda Benazuza, Sanlucar la Mayor, near Seville (00 34 955 703 344).

6: Double helpings in Japan

The new Conrad Hotel near Tokyo's Ginza district is home to two of the city's hottest restaurants. The first is Gordon Ramsay at Conrad Tokyo. Just a few steps away lies Kazahana, a showcase for the considerable talents of one of Japan's most highly regarded chefs, Akio Saito. It's an unusually glamorous restaurant, fusing the traditional and the modern with its semi-open kitchen, gleaming columns, flower-etched glass panels, exquisite crockery, and kimono-clad waitresses. Saito aims to take the beauty of Japanese food into "the next generation". His meticulously honed dishes, include the finest grilled Japanese sirloin and a velvety toro tuna sashimi. This is also the place to try fresh matsutake mushrooms, with a market value of around £75 each. Thrown in are gasp-worthy views of the Hamarikyu Gardens and Tokyo Bay.

Price per head: Chef's special kaiseki 25,000 yen (£120), food only.

Book ahead: Three weeks.

Address: 28th Floor, Conrad Tokyo,

1-9-1 Higashi-Shinbashi, Minato-ku, Tokyo (00 81 3 6388 8000; conrad hotels.hilton.com).

Can't get in? Try the Gordon Ramsay restaurant on the very same floor (00 81 3 6388 8000).

7: All that jazz in London

Gordon Ramsay has a knack for opening wildly successful restaurants. Maze, a jazzy New York-style split-level space in London, has been a hit from day one. It won the Time Out Award for Best New Restaurant in October. Chef Jason Atherton sends out a glittering array of tiny tapas-sized plates that combine fabulous produce with vivid Miro-like imaginings. Favoured dishes include marinated beetroot with sheep's milk ricotta; honey and soy roasted quail with Landes foie gras, peach and Persian saffron chutney, and a grown-up, peanut-butter-and-cherry-jam sandwich with cherry sorbet.

Price per head: Eight course chef's selection menu £42, food only.

Book ahead: Six weeks.

Address: Marriott Grosvenor Square, 10-13 Grosvenor Square, London W1 (020-7107 0000; gordonramsay.com).

Can't get in? Try the other big opening in London this year - Nigel Platts-Martin and Phillip Howard's The Ledbury in Notting Hill (020-7792 9090).

8:Small wonders in Amsterdam

Amsterdam has had so many high-profile openings in recent months the me-first brigade are left frantically trying to keep up. If they're not drinking at The College or Odeon, or sipping Asian broths at Brasserie Harkema, they're trying to get into Envy. Why? Because of owner Bert Van Der Leyden, the man behind the bed-bedecked, music-oriented Supperclub, and designers Concrete Architectural Associates, the darlings of Wallpaper* magazine. Butmainly it's because chef Remco van der Weerd serves up a stunning array of small plates, each one a miracle of compatible flavours such as pata negra-wrapped scallops on truffled mash, fried turbot with chanterelles, and a platter of tuna sashimi with wasabi foam and squares of sweet soy jelly. Set in a leafy canal street, it is one long lean space with the moody good looks of a wine bar. The 54 bookable seats are much fought over, but the good news is that the 44 high stools at the long, communal, central table are available for drop-ins.

Price per head: Five course Chef's Choice Menu €50 (£33).

Book ahead: Three weeks for a table, but try it on for a walk-in.

Address: Prinsengracht 381, Amsterdam (00 31 20 344 6407).

Can't get in? Try the Mansion in Hobbemastraat with its cool bar scene, new style sashimi and steamers of dim sum (00 31 20 616 6664).

9:Go for broke in Monte Carlo

Alain Ducasse now owns three, three-Michelin-starred restaurants, but Louis XV-Alain Ducasse in Monte Carlo remains his grandest achievement. Rarely have the earthy flavours of Provence had such a grand setting as this sumptuous Versailles-style room designed in 1864 with soaring ceiling, elaborate frescoes and crystal chandeliers. Elsewhere, the gold cutlery would be of doubtful taste. Here, amid portraits of courtesans and marble clocks, it is completely at home. Dishes run from a collection of the babiest of Provencal vegetables flavoured with truffle to breast of squab with grilled foie gras and Piedmont polenta, and a divinely crunchy, chocolate gold-leafed confection known as Le Louis XV au croustillant de praline.

Price per head: Louis XV: Les Jardins de Provence menu €150 (£100).

Book ahead: Five weeks

Address: Hotel de Paris, Place du Casino, Monte Carlo, Monaco (00 377 98 06 88 64; alain-ducasse. com).

Can't get in? Try Bruno Cirino's Michelin-starred Hostellerie Jerome, just a few miles above Monte Carlo in La Turbie (00 33 4 92 41 51 51).

10: West is best in San Francisco

Its inclusion in Restaurant Magazine's top 50 restaurants in the world and recent rave reviews in San Francisco and London have raised the profile of one of the Bay area's most lauded restaurants. Set in a low-slung ranch house, Manresa showcases the inspired, French and Catalan-influenced cooking of chef's chef David Kinch. Impeccably sourced ingredients litter an inventive menu that includes biodynamic risotto with pine mushrooms and meat jus scented with coffee and parmesan, local abalone Meunière-style with shallots braised with pig's trotter, and black seabass on the plancha with butterbeans and wild fennel.

Price per head: Manresa: Tasting menu $150 (£86).

Book ahead: Three weeks

Address: 320 Village Lane, Los Gatos, California (001 408 354 4330; manresa restaurant.com).

Can't get in? Try the elegant French cuisine of chef Roland Passot at San Francisco's recently remodelled La Folie (001 415 776 5577.

The best in the Big Apple: Keller knows his onions

Having been hailed America's best chef for French Laundry, Thomas Keller tried his luck with Per Se. The three menus change daily. His salmon and crème fraiche ice-cream cones, slow-cooked butter-poached lobster, oysters, tapioca and oscietra caviar have earned him three Michelin stars. Price per head is $210 (£120) (00 1 212 823 9335; perseny.com).

Can't get in? Try Masa, the nearby Japanese restaurant, (00 1 212 823 9800).

The best of British at Bray: Guaranteed gastro gasps

One thing is certain: you won't be bored at The Fat Duck, Heston Blumenthal's three-starred temple to molecular gastronomy in Bray, Berkshire. From the puffball of lime and green tea mousse poached in liquid nitrogen, snail porridge, sardine on toast jelly and roast foie gras with almond gel to the leather, oak and tobacco chocolates, this is edge-of-your-seat dining. Price per head for a three-course menu is £67.75(01628 580333; fatduck.co.uk).

Can't get in? Try The Hinds Head (01628 626151).

The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations

News
people
News
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
Sport
A long jumper competes in the 80-to-84-year-old age division at the 2007 World Masters Championships
athletics
Sport
FootballGerman sparks three goals in four minutes at favourite No 10 role
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Sport
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
Life and Style
Walking tall: unlike some, Donatella Versace showed a strong and vibrant collection
fashionAlexander Fury on the staid Italian clothing industry
Arts and Entertainment
Gregory Porter learnt about his father’s voice at his funeral
music
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Life and Style
Children at the Leytonstone branch of the Homeless Children's Aid and Adoption Society tuck into their harvest festival gifts, in October 1936
food + drinkThe harvest festival is back, but forget cans of tuna and packets of instant mash
New Articles
i100... she's just started school
News
news
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
New Articles
i100
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
New Articles
i100... despite rising prices
Voices
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
voices
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    IT Administrator - Graduate

    £18000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: ***EXCELLENT OPPORTUNITY FO...

    USA/Florida Travel Consultants £30-50k OTE Essex

    Basic of £18,000 + commission, realistic OTE of £30-£50k : Ocean Holidays: Le...

    Marketing Executive / Member Services Exec

    £20 - 26k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Marketing Executive / Member Services Ex...

    Sales Account Manager

    £15,000 - £25,000: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has arisen for ...

    Day In a Page

    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam