As beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so the quality of a restaurant is in the experience of the diner. Which is why any attempt to rank the world's best restaurants is bound to produce as much disappointment as elation – not just among contenders, but among those who follow the rankings to the number. The winners are the proprietors whose top places guarantee tables fully booked for years ahead.
This year's British and European star has to be The Ledbury, tucked away in London's Notting Hill, which bounced on to the list at number 34, as the highest new entry from anywhere. That's the good news for Britain and for the restaurant's Australian-born head chef. The even better news, though, is the plethora of accomplished and adventurous restaurants emerging beyond the traditional territories of haute cuisine.
The unique selling point of the World's 50 Best is its geographical spread, which has widened over the 11 years that Restaurant magazine has been compiling its list.
Peru and Russia provide new entrants this year, and there is a growing crop from Mexico and Brazil. This reflects rising culinary ambitions everywhere, the rich world's continuing wanderlust, and – best of all for the future of fine dining and the restaurant business – new national clienteles.