Spain has been crowned the new restaurant capital of the world after a Norovirus outbreak marked the end of Noma in Denmark's reign as the world's best dining experience.
El Celler de Can Roca, the establishment in Girona run by a trio of brothers, who combine avant-garde Catalan dishes with cutting-edge techniques, has taken the top spot in the coveted World's 50 Best Restaurants list.
Spain now outranks Paris and New York as the world's culinary capital, with Mugaritz (number 4) and Arzak (number 8), both located in San Sebastián, northern Spain, also featuring in the top ten.
Heston Blumenthal was again named the top British restaurateur in the annual list compiled for Restaurant magazine and unveiled at the London Guildhall on Monday night, with two entries in the top 40.
Blumenthal's Dinner, based at the Mandarin Oriental near Hyde Park, which specialises in "historic British gastronomy", rose two places to number 7.
However the three Michelin-starred Blumenthal's The Fat Duck, a former number one, dropped 20 places to 33. The Ledbury in Notting Hill, last year's fastest riser, improved one place to 13.
El Celler finally displaced Noma in Copehangen, which held the top spot for three years. Noma's reputation took a hit in February when 63 guests fell ill with sickness and diarrhoea after visiting the haute cuisine establishment.
Health inspectors criticised the restaurant for not alerting authorities soon enough and for not taking proper action after a sick employee, believed to be the source of the Norovirus outbreak, was struck ill upon returning home after work.
At El Celler de Can Roca, opened by the Roca brothers in 1987, Joan heads up the kitchen, Jordi is head pastry chef and Josep is head sommelier, in charge of front of house.
The three Michelin-starred family restaurant delivers "emotional cuisine", with different ingredients chosen to take diners back to childhood memories and a specific place in their past.
Dishes include oysters served with a distillation of earth, anchovy-wrapped olives brought to the table hanging from a bonsai tree, Campari bonbons, veal tendons with sea anemone and a rose soufflé. Jordi has created a perfume, Cloud of Lemon, that smells of one of his desserts. Eleven months notice is already required for bookings at weekends.
Spain has five restaurants in the top 50. Quique Dacosta who is renowned for his eco-cuisine, climbs 14 places to 26 with his Alicante restaurant and Asador Etxebarri in the Basque Country features at 44.
The USA and France tie for the highest number of restaurants in the top 50 with six each, compared to the UK's presence of three. There are four further London restaurants in the top 100, headed by Viajante at 59. The Michelin-starred Jason Atherton's Pollen Street Social enters the 100 at 83.
Heston Blumenthal said he was "delighted" with Dinner's continued rise but believes that the UK deserved a greater representation in the top 50. He told the Independent: "I really believe that for diversity, quality and range of restaurants, London is the most exciting city in the world right now."
He added: "There is an ambiguity about the list because you don't know whether its being judged on the technical quality of the food, or which is the most user-friendly environment or the best setting."
Dinner, with its Spiced Pigeon and Fillet of Aberdeen Angus, offers a different proposition to the more minimalist menus in the list. "We serve a lot of covers but we put a lot of work into getting the cooking right and making sure the attention to detail was precise," the chef said.
"It's got grandeur but it's also a bustling environment where you can have steak and chips if you want. It's a new form of restaurant and I don't think there's anything quite like it in the top 20."
Australia's Attica takes the Highest New Entry award, making its debut on the list at 21. Peru's Astrid Y Gaston is the highest climber, soaring 21 places to 14. South America claims six restaurants in the top 50 list, with Asia claiming seven, led by Narisawa in Tokyo at 20.
THE WORLD'S 50 BEST RESTAURANTS
1 El Celler de Can Roca - Girona, Spain up 1
2 Noma - Copenhagen, Denmark down 1
3 Osteria Francescana - Modena, Italy up 2
4 Mugaritz - San Sebastián, Spain down 1
5 Eleven Madison Park - New York, USA up 5
6 D.O.M. - São Paulo, Brazil
7 Dinner by Heston Blumenthal - London, UK up 2
8 Arzak - San Sebastián, Spain =
9 Steirereck - Vienna, Austria up 2
10 Vendôme Bergisch - Gladbach, Germany up 13
11 Per Se - New York, USA down 5
12 Frantzén/Lindeberg - Stockholm, Sweden up 8
13 The Ledbury - London, UK up 1
14 Astrid y Gastón - Lima, Peru up 21
15 Alinea - Chicago, USA down 8
16 L'Arpège - Paris, France =
17 Pujol - Mexico City, Mexico up 19
18 Le Chateaubriand - Paris, France down 3
19 Le Bernardin - New York, USA =
20 Narisawa - Tokyo, Japan up 7
21 Attica - Melbourne, Australia NEW ENTRY
22 Nihonryori RyuGin - Tokyo, Japan up 6
23 L'Astrance - Paris, France down 5
24 L'Atelier - Saint-Germain de Joël Robuchon Paris, France down 12
25 Hof Van Cleve - Kruishoutem, Belgium up 17
26 Quique Dacosta - Dénia, Spain up 14
27 Le Calandre - Rubano, Italy up 5
28 Mirazur - Menton, France down 4
29 Daniel - New York, USA down 4
30 Aqua - Wolfsburg, Germany down 8
31 Biko - Mexico City, Mexico up 7
32 Nahm - Bangkok, Thailand up 18
33 The Fat Duck - Bray, UK down 20
34 Fäviken Järpen - Sweden =
35 Oud Sluis Sluis - Netherlands down 14
36 Amber - Hong Kong, China up 8
37 Vila Joya - Albufeira, Portugal up 8
38 Restaurant Andre - Singapore NEW ENTRY
39 8 1/2 Otto E Mezzo Bombana - Hong Kong, China NEW ENTRY
40 Combal.Zero - Rivoli, Italy RE-ENTRY
41 Piazza Duomo - Alba, Italy NEW ENTRY
42 Schloss Schauenstein - Fürstenau, Switzerland down 12
43 Mr & Mrs Bund - Shanghai, China NEW ENTRY
44 Asador Etxebarri - Atxondo, Spain down 13
45 Geranium - Copenhagen, Denmark up 4
46 Mani - São Paulo, Brazil NEW ENTRY
47 The French Laundry - Yountville, USA down4
48 Quay Sydney - Australia down 19
49 Septime - Paris, France NEW ENTRY
50 Central - Lima, Peru NEW ENTRY
Register for free to continue reading
Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism
By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists
Already have an account? sign in
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies