THE ELITE Traveler and champagne-maker Laurent-Perrier collaborate to bring out their annual 100 best restaurants in the world. Earlier winners have included Heston Blumenthal’s The Fat Duck in England and El Buli in Spain. This year, there’s something of a surprise in the form of a little-known restaurant called Alinea. Little-known, that is, outside Chicago. Now, of course, it’s being hailed as spearheading a fine-dining revolution in the Windy City.
In keeping with the current culinary trends, Alinea is a temple of molecular gastronomy and the restaurant is helmed by one of the leading practitioners in the art of combining science and art with food: Grant Achatz, the head chef. It hit the Chicago restaurant scene with a bang nine years ago and quickly acquired a reputation for being in a class of its own when it comes to avant-garde fine dining. Its fame has spread outside Chicago thanks to a series of awards, and the latest one will be the icing on the molecular cake. Or, one of its signature creations, the ‘balloon, helium, green apple’. It is Chicago’s only three-Michelin-star restaurant, which is a tribute to its culinary breakthroughs. There is no menu, just a 25-course tasting menu, which combines an exceptionally fine balance of flavours. More than any other restaurant, Alinea has made Chicago known for more than just Oprah Winfrey and the brutal wind that comes in from Lake Michigan.
There is only one Indian restaurant in the list of 100: Amaya, located in the heart of Belgravia in London, ranked number 76. Again, Amaya beats more storied restaurants like Gymkhana, Trishna and Quilon, but then again, why not? It has earned a reputation for reinventing Indian cuisine in a contemporary style and in very stylish surroundings. Its signature dishes like flash grilled scallops; grilled oyster; chicken parcels in lettuce; pepper chicken tikka; venison kebab; grilled lamb chops with ginger and lime; tandoori duck; whole lobster makhani and charcoal grilled aubergine have been wowing diners and earning it Michelin stars, thanks to head chef Karunesh Khanna.