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The World's 50 Best Restaurants: Spain and Denmark lead the way (but a poor show for UK)

Tomé Morrissy-Swan
Mirazur in Menton, French Riviera, has been named the world's best restaurant - www.alamy.com

Mirazur, a restaurant on the French Riviera resort town of Menton, has picked up the coveted world's best restaurant award at the 2019 World's 50 Best Restaurant awards, up two spots from a third place finish last year. 

"Wow, wow, wow, wow," said a clearly elated Mauro Colagreco, Mirazur's chef. "What a crazy year, three Michelin stars and number one in the world, all in the same year. It's a year I will remember forever." 

In a disappointing year for the UK, which saw its share of top 50 establishments drop from four to two, the top three was rounded off by Copenhagen's Noma in second spot, and Asador Etzebarri from the Basque Country, Spain, which came third. Spain had the most establishments in the top 50, with seven, many of them in the Basque country. The United States earned six spots. 

Britain's highest-placing restaurant was London's The Clove Club, which back in 2013 was described as committing "the cardinal sin of trying to reinvent the sacred chipped potato" when reviewed by the Telegraph. It jumped from 33rd to 27th. 

The second UK entry, Lyle's, also in the capital, climbed from 38th to 33rd. Both are situated in Shoreditch which has become a hub for the sort of destinations favoured by the judges. 

The World's 50 Best Restaurant list is never far from controversy. Last year it was criticised for awarding the best female chef gong to Clare Smyth of Core by Clare Smyth in London; there was no equivalent award for men. Despite the furore, this year the best female chef award was given to Daniela Soto-Innes of Cosme in New York City. Overall, the top 50 list included just five restaurants run by female chefs, the same as last year.

A key difference in the awards this year, which were held in Singapore, is that previous winners have been barred from consideration. Thus Osteria Francescana in Modena, which has finished in the top three every year since 2013, and won in 2016 and 2018, was ineligible. Noma, which won from 2010-2012 and 2014 this year came second, allowed entry because its new building and concept were deemed novel enough.

However, Osteria Francescana joined former winners in a "best of the best" group, a sort of restaurant hall of fame. These include ElBulli, The French Laundry, The Fat Duck, Noma (the original incarnation), El Celler de Can Roca and Eleven Madison Park. 

It was a good year for Copenhagen, with two restaurants in the top five, while Spain again did well with three in the top 10. Gaggan in Bangkok, which is closing next year, was Asia's highest entry at four, while Lima, Peru once again proved its culinary credentials with two in the top 10 (the same as France, and two more than Tokyo). 

The World's 50 Best Restaurants 

1. Mirazur (Menton, France) BEST RESTAURANT IN EUROPE AND BEST RESTAURANT IN THE WORLD

Run by Argentinian chef Mauro Colagreco, the restaurant is located near the Italian border and serves modern French cuisine with an Italian influence. It earned its third Michelin star this year, and according to the Michelin Guide is "sleekly contemporary with magnificent views of the sea and the old town." 

2. Noma (Copengagen, Denmark) HIGHEST NEW ENTRY

A four-time winner in its previous iteration, Noma inspired a galaxy of chefs and spearheaded the rise of fermenting, foraging, pickling and preserving. It closed in 2017 and has now reopened with gilded chef René Redzepi still on board with a menu that rotates throughout the year, depending on the season. 

3. Asador Etxebarri (Atxondo, Spain)

Set in the culinary powerhouse that is the Basque Country, Asador Etxebarri, which holds one Michelin star, prides itself on old-school cooking. Everything is done over a grill, even desserts, and the food has been described as "an unadulterated pleasure for lovers of simply grilled and roasted dishes." 

4. Gaggan (Bangkok, Thailand) BEST RESTAURANT IN ASIA 

Indian chef Gaggan Anand has starred in the celebrated Netflix series Chef's Table and serves up a novel take on Indian cuisine at his eponymous Bangkok restaurant. Gaggan has been praised for its "creative, modern reinvention of traditional Indian cuisine" in the Telegraph

5. Geranium (Copenhagen, Denmark)

With three Michelin stars and run by a former winner of the world's best chef title, Rasmus Kofoed, Geranium "turns food into art, with endless imagination." It came top in a recent list of must-visit Nordic restaurants in the Telegraph. 

6. Central (Lima, Peru) BEST RESTAURANT IN SOUTH AMERICA

Chefs Virgilio Martinez and Pía León serve up a Peruvian menu with international touches in Lima, a city famous for its cuisine. According to World's 50 Best, Central "takes diners on a journey through every altitude, from 20 metres below sea level to 4,100 metres above over 17+ courses". 

7. Mugaritz (San Sebastian, Spain)

The second-highest Basque entry, Murgaritz has two Michelin stars and, according to Portuguese chef Nuno Mendes, "the food is very creative, very artistic – probably more artistic than most places I've been to." Diners are treated to up to 24 dishes with a highlight being egg yolk with sea urchin. 

8. Arpège (Paris, France)

Since 1986 Alain Passard has rune Arpege in the French capital. It still holds three Michelin stars (it has since 1996) and serves a vegetable-focused French menu with fresh ingredients that "never see the inside of a refrigerator." 

Telegraph columnist Stephen Harris is a big fan: "I quickly realised that this was special: everything tasted so intensely of what it was. The produce of a garden in Normandy had been translated to a three-star restaurant in Paris, but you could still taste the earth. I didn't know how to explain what I was eating – I waffled on about it being like standing in a garden in summer just after the rain had stopped." 

9. Disfrutar (Barcelona, Spain)

A big jump from 18th last year, Disfrutar, yet another Spanish top 10, is run by three chefs who previously were part of the legendary ElBulli. Signature dishes include gazpacho in sandwich form, crispy egg yolk, liquid salad and hare bonbons. 

10. Maido (Lima, Peru)

Maido serves a Nikkei menu, which fuses Japanese and Peruvian cooking. The Lima-born chef is Mitsuharu Tsumura, who seeks out rare ingredients in the Amazon to provide a dining experience far removed from what you might expect to find in fine-dining establishments in Europe or North America. 

11. Den (Tokyo, Japan) ART OF HOSPITALITY AWARD 

12. Pujol (Mexico City, Mexico) BEST RESTAURANT IN NORTH AMERICA

13. White Rabbit (Moscow, Russia)

14. Azurmendi (Larrabetzu, Spain) HIGHEST CLIMBER AWARD

15. Septime (Paris, France)

16. Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athénée (Paris, France)

17. Steirereck (Vienna, Austria)

18. Odette (Singapore)

19. Twins Garden (Moscow, Russia) 

20. Tickets (Barcelona, Spain)

21. Frantzén (Stockholm, Sweden)

22. Narisawa (Tokyo, Japan)

23. Cosme (New York City, USA)

24. Quintonil (Mexico City, Mexico)

25. Alléno Paris au Pavillon Ledoyen (Paris, France)

26. Boragó (Santiago, Chile)

27. The Clove Club (London, United Kingdom)

28. Blue Hill at Stone Barns (Pocantico Hills, USA)

29. Piazza Duomo (Alba, Italy)

30. Elkano (Getaria, Spain)

31. Le Calandre (Rubano, Italy)

32. Nerua (Bilbao, Spain)

33. Lyle’s (London, United Kingdom)

34. Don Julio (Buenos Aires, Argentina)

35. Atelier Crenn (San Francisco, USA)

36. Le Bernardin (New York City, USA)

37. Alinea (Chicago, USA)

38. Hiša Franko (Kobarid, Slovenia)

39. A Casa do Porco (São Paulo, Brazil)

40. Restaurant Tim Raue (Berlin, Germany)

41. The Chairman (Hong Kong)

42. Belcanto (Lisbon, Portugal)

43. Hof Van Cleve (Kruishoutem, Belgium)

44. Test Kitchen (Cape Town, South Africa) BEST RESTAURANT IN AFRICA

45. Sühring (Bangkok, Thailand)

46. De Librije (Zwolle, Netherlands)

47. Benu (San Francisco, USA)

48. Ultraviolet by Paul Pairet (Shanghai, China)

49. Leo (Bogotá, Colombia)

50. Schloss Schauenstein (Fürstenau, Switzerland) SUSTAINABLE RESTAURANT AWARD 

Do you agree with this list? Have you visited any of these restaurants? How would you rate the cuisine of the countries in the top 50? Tell us what you think in the comments section below.