Dining Deluxe Sp ecia

Special Report
By James Lim
Fine dining around the world.
Savouring good food is an indulgence that many
people enjoy but only a select group of food
connoisseurs would be willing to pay through their
nose or travel halfway around the world for a premium
gourmet meal. In this issue’s Special Report, we bring
you a compilation of highly rated restaurants from
across the globe. These may not be the most expensive
places to dine (although they will all cost you a pretty
penny for a meal) but their commitment to quality,
service excellence and impeccable ingredients have
earned them a place on our list (as well as lots of
positive reviews from TripAdvisor!). So here they are,
in no particular order, our pick of the finest places to
dine on the planet.
Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester
(London, England)
Located in The Dorchester, an uber-luxe hotel in the heart of
downtown London, Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester is one of
27 restaurants owned by the French celebrity chef Alain
Ducasse. When it comes to upscale fine dining, this restaurant
certainly doesn’t hold back. From the dainty presentation of its
haute cuisine dishes to the enchanting ambience and fancy
decorations, everything in Alain Ducasse is dedicated to
opulence and extravagance. It also happens to be one of only
four restaurants in the United Kingdom to hold three Michelin
stars, the others being The Waterside Inn, The Fat Duck and
Restaurant Gordon Ramsay.
Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester
28 Astelier
Table Lumière
Raw and cooked vegetables, taggiasca olives and tomato syrup
Complementing the fine food are exquisite surroundings and
high-end tableware. Diners with a need for more personal space
can reserve the Table Lumière—a private room surrounded by
4,500 shimmering fibre optics which drop dramatically from the
ceiling and adorned with specially selected sets of Hermès
china, Puiforcat silverware and Saint-Louis crystal.
The main dining area exhibits a contemporary elegance, with
furniture finished in soft natural fabrics such as leather and
wood, and coloured in various shades of tan, cream and taupe.
The design also includes quirky elements such as walls studded
with thousands of silk buttons in different shades of green.
The tableware showcases traditional French craftsmanship
using a variety of materials. This ranges from Coquet porcelain
to hand-made butter dishes in pink marble, to French artist
Jean-Paul Gourdon’s unique vegetable ceramics.
Prices at Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester are quite hefty, but
a little cheaper than its French counterpart. A typical a la carte
meal can range from as low as £65 for two courses to £105 for
four courses. The extravagant seven-course tasting menu will
cost you £125.
Don Alfonso 1890 (Naples, Italy)
Sauté Gourmand of Lobster, truffled chicken quenelles, homemade pasta
The food served here is contemporary French cuisine. Guests
are taken on an exotic culinary journey starting with beautifully
presented amuse-bouche served in a delicate porcelain egg and
finishing with classic Chamonix cakes gifted at the end of the
meal. The restaurant’s four bespoke trolleys provide the perfect
ending to an enchanting dining experience with offerings
ranging from mignardises to fresh fruit infusions.
Most of the restaurant’s ingredients have been sourced from
British and French suppliers and the menu is constantly being
updated by head chef Jocelyn Herland to incorporate current
seasonal produce.
Among their signature dishes are sauté gourmand of lobster
with truffled chicken quenelles and home-made pasta; fillet of
beef rossini and crunchy cos lettuce; and Baba, a delightful
dessert served with whipped cream and the rum of your choice.
If you can’t decide which morsel to indulge in, the restaurant
offers a seven-course tasting menu with enough variety to
satisfy your appetite.
Located in Sant’Agata sui Due Golfi, a rustic little village on
the Sorrentine Peninsula, Don Alfonso 1890 is a boutique hotel
that offers guests a scenic view of the Mediterranean Sea while
its restaurant serves regional fare using only the choicest local
ingredients and recipes passed down for generations. The
restaurant traces its origins to the late 1960s and is named after
Alfonso Costanzo Iaccarino, a name shared by both the
restaurant’s founder and his grandfather. Over time, they
expanded their business offerings to incorporate a luxurious
boutique hotel and even a prestigious cooking school. Currently,
the restaurant boasts two Michelin stars which it gained in 1985
and 1990.
Local ingredients and recipes
Astelier 29
Don Alfonso 1890
The restaurant today is still led by head chef Alfonso
Iaccarino and he is determined to run his establishment
according to the values of professionalism, innovation
and respect for local traditions that his grandfather
advocated. Southern Italy’s rich culinary traditions are
represented by Don Alfonso’s scrumptious menus
which incorporate local olive oils, fruits and vegetables.
Most of these are actually grown on site at the Le
Peracciole farmhouse, which the Iaccarino family
purchased in 1990.
Spread across seven hectares, the Le Peracciole farm
also includes an olive grove where the restaurant’s inhouse olive oil comes from. Even the wine cellar is
notable, as it was built into an old tunnel that dates
back to Roman times and houses over 25,000 bottles of
wine and its own cheese-ageing room. Most of
Alfonso’s speciality dishes are rooted in Neapolitan
cuisine and include favourites such as swordfish with
chickpeas and thyme, goatfish with rosemary and
cucumber, and pasta with cockles and courgettes.
A Concert of Lemon
30 Astelier
The average price for a full-course meal here (excluding the wine,
which can hit € 200 or more) is about € 150. The restaurant is not open
all-year round, as it closes during the winter season which is between the
months of November and March.
Frantzén (Stockholm, Sweden)
Named after and owned by head chef Björn Frantzén, Restaurant
Frantzén is a new wave gastronomy outlet that serves traditional
Swedish-inspired cuisine with a modern contemporary flair. Frantzén
used to be a professional football player but gave up that career to
pursue his passion for cooking. After working as a cook in several
restaurants, he started his own in 2008 and since then, it has managed to
rack up two Michelin stars, receiving one in 2009 and another the
following year.
Restaurant Frantzén has also received numerous other accolades,
including 12th Best Restaurant in 2013 by Restaurant magazine and
Sweden’s Best Restaurant for 2011 and 2012 by the White Guide list of
best Swedish restaurants. The establishment used to be called
Frantzén/Lindeberg, but Frantzén’s partner Daniel Lindeberg has since
left the company on amicable terms in order to pursue his own projects.
Peach and cheese fondue pasta
Restaurant Frantzén
Cod with juniper berries and pears
French cuisine is the speciality here, as the majority of
Crissier’s residents are French-speaking and Chef Violier
himself has won several French accolades such as the Meilleur
Ouvrier de France in 2000 and served in French restaurants
before settling down in Crissier.
As one would expect, only the choicest ingredients are
used—locally sourced if possible—such as fish from the Léman
lake, meat from the Fribourg Canton and various varieties of
Swiss cheese. One of the restaurant’s key principles is the use of
fresh game, a practice that originates from the chef’s boyhood
love for hunting. Violier buys his animals whole, so as to ensure
they are adequately prepared for cooking.
Signature dishes here include l’oeufs à l'italienne with white
Alba truffles, pink Nantaise duck in Brouilly wine, and passion
fruit soufflé. The menus are constantly changing as they tend to
incorporate seasonal ingredients. Guests can order dishes
individually but for the full sensory experience, are encouraged
to try one of the tasting menus that consists of at least
five courses.
Satio tempestas
Frantzén’s dishes have been praised for their creativity as
well as enjoyable taste. The restaurant often combines disparate
ingredients into a unique eclectic mix. Some of the more notable
dishes include black pudding with dried foam of goat milk and
fish roe with pear and apple cream; beef served with smoked eel,
cream, French caviar and foie gras; and scallops with butter
cream, chives and truffle.
If possible, Chef Frantzén prefers to source his produce from
local farmers and to use Swedish-raised meat but he doesn’t
limit his options to his native country. As part of his effort to
keep everything as local as possible, Frantzén even has his own
garden, where he grows some of the vegetables and herbs that
he uses in his cooking. Even the bread served with the
appetisers is hand-made and baked in the restaurant.
To emphasise the uniqueness of the restaurant and its
culinary offerings, there is only enough room for 16 diners, thus
a reservation is almost certainly required in order to a get a
place at any table. There are no a la carte menus either—diners
choose the number of courses they wish to have and the chefs
whip up a meal using whatever produce and ingredients they
have for that day. The average pricing for a dining experience at
Restaurant Frantzén is about SEK1495 for a seven-course meal
and SEK1295 for a five-course meal.
Canapé platter
Tomato caviar consommé
Asparagus caviar
Hôtel de Ville (Crissier, Switzerland)
The quaint little town of Crissier in Switzerland houses one
of the most critically acclaimed restaurants in the world—
Restaurant Hôtel de Ville de Crissier—which holds three
Michelin stars to its name and which has been consistently
ranked among the best restaurants by numerous travel and
gastronomic guides. In 2012, Benoît Violier took over the
restaurant’s reins as head chef after serving in the kitchen
for 16 years. Together with his wife Brigitte, the two have
splendidly carried on the establishment’s legacy and upheld its
prestigious reputation.
Conical morels
Astelier 31
Hôtel de Ville de Crissier
Complementing the fine food is the upscale décor that conveys a chic
and modernist theme. Designer Aïda Denguezli chose earthy beige tones
for the walls for an instantaneous feeling of comfort and chocolatecoloured flooring and carpeting for a contrasting chic and contemporary
style. Elm wood is also extensively used for the finishing and furniture
because of its historical significance as a ‘noble’ wood.
The tasting menus here range in price from CHF185 to CHF370 but
if you’re ordering everything a la carte, expect to pay about CHF320
per person.
Ithaa Undersea Restaurant
(Rangali Island, Maldives)
If there is one restaurant on this list that is famed more for the
ambience than the food, it would be the Ithaa Undersea Restaurant in
the Maldives. Ithaa, which means ‘mother of
pearl’ in the Maldivian language of Dihevi, is
located five metres below the surface and is
part of the Hilton Maldives Resort and Spa.
The restaurant takes the form of a
transparent acrylic tunnel, accessed via a spiral
staircase in a thatched pavilion at the end of a
jetty, affording guests a panoramic view of an
underwater paradise of sharks, tropical fish and
vibrant coral reefs while enjoying their meal.
The tunnel—which is an engineering marvel in
itself—was actually constructed in Singapore
and shipped to Rangali Island in the Maldives
on the back of an ocean-going barge, a voyage
which took 16 days.
Ithaa Undersea Restaurant
32 Astelier
Duck agnotti
Saffron champagne risotto
While admiring the marine life swirling around them, diners
can indulge in a spread of contemporary European cuisine with
a hint of Maldivian influence. There are no a la carte options
here. Depending on whether diners arrive for lunch or dinner,
they will be served a set menu of four to six courses, with lighter
fare and fewer courses for the lunch session. Items on these
menus include staples of European haute cuisine such as duck
agnotti, foie gras and goose liver tortellini. Other sweet and
savoury delights include Maldivian lobster carpaccio, reef fish
tartare, poached quail egg and saffron champagne risotto.
Due to the gorgeous backdrop, the restaurant is a popular
setting for wedding photoshoots and private corporate events.
Prices are high at Ithaa, but not exceptionally so; the lunch
menu costs US$120 per person and the dinner menu is
substantially higher at US$320. As amazing as this restaurant is,
it is only expected to last another 20 years due to its extreme
location. In the meantime, reservations are required if you wish
to dine here.
Le Jardin
L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon
(Hong Kong, China)
L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon in Hong Kong is the fifth
L’Atelier restaurant opened by celebrity chef Joël Robuchon.
Since its founding in 2006, it has already bagged three Michelin
stars, bringing the total number of stars in Chef Robuchon’s
impressive collection to 28—the most of any chef to date. The
contemporary chic direction of the décor is modelled after that
of Robuchon’s Tokyo restaurant, which features lush red velvet
seating paired with dark wood furniture.
Delectable tea treats
The restaurant is divided into several sections, each with its
own distinct theme and function. The main area, L’Atelier, is
built around a circular bar surrounding an open kitchen, not
unlike a sushi restaurant. This arrangement lets guests watch
their food being prepared—from the selection of the ingredients
to the plating of dishes.
Le Salon de Thé de Joël Robuchon
For those who wish to enjoy a scenic view with their meal,
the Le Jardin offers an elegant interior setting that looks out
onto a tidy rooftop garden. Finally, one floor below the main
restaurant is Le Salon de Thé de Joël Robuchon, Chef
Robuchon’s very own French tea salon for casual diners looking
for a place to chat with friends while enjoying light meals
and snacks.
The menu at L’Atelier is distinguishably French with an
emphasis on fine-dining gourmet cuisine. There is a lunch set
menu, but most of the dishes are offered a la carte. Apart from
exquisite main courses, the restaurant also serves bite-sized
tapas for casual diners as well as a variety of sandwiches,
canapés, pastries and cakes in Le Salon.
Among the items served on their ‘Discovery Menu’ are le
caviar imperial (Imperial caviar with salmon tartare and shiso), le
homard (Maine lobster and baby spinach served in spiced
ravigote sauce), and le haricort vert (French green bean mimosa
salad with foie gras rolls and smoked duck breasts). Their
signature dishes include sea urchin in lobster jelly topped with
cauliflower cream, and crispy langoustine papillote with basil.
Prices here start at HK$448 for lunch and HK$830
for dinner.
Astelier 33
Le Louis XV
Le Louis XV – Alain Ducasse
(Monte Carlo, Monaco)
Le Louis XV is the flagship restaurant of Alain Ducasse,
located in the Hôtel de Paris Monte-Carlo. Not only has it
earned a spot in many top ten restaurant lists, it is also regarded
as one of the most beautiful, due to its opulent décor reminiscent
of the stately homes of France’s monarchs, such as the Palace
of Versailles.
A fun fact about this restaurant: it was created by Alain
Ducasse in response to a challenge issued by Monaco’s Prince
Rainier III to build a three-star restaurant in Monaco within
four years. Not only did Chef Ducasse win the bet, but he even
achieved it 15 months ahead of the deadline.
More so than its counterparts in other countries, the original
Alain Ducasse spared no expense in creating an ambience of
splendour and palatial extravagance. The dining area is adorned
with marble and gold leaf as well as romantic frescoes by Marie
Félix Hippolyte Lucas, while a crystal chandelier hangs from
the ceiling. Other ornaments include mirrors to enhance the
sense of space and busts evoking the personalities of the
Marquise de Pompadour and Comtesse du Barry. Even the
furniture is designed to be period-specific. The chairs are
covered in beige velvet upholstery in the winter and silky Parma
tones in the spring. Porcelain tableware touched up with gold
and bespoke napkins complete the luxurious ensemble.
Only the highest of high-end French and Mediterranean
cuisine is served in Le Louis XV. The dishes take their
inspiration from the French and Italian Rivieras, and
incorporate a wide range of ingredients and cooking styles.
Most of the ingredients are sourced from local farmers or fished
from the Mediterranean Sea itself. Every diner is treated like
royalty, with a host of servers assigned to them for the duration
of the meal. Diners choose from a list of preset menus and then
sit back and wait for the courses to be brought out in
extravagant fashion. The butter, for example, is presented on a
marble slab and covered with a glass bell.
Mini Pan Bagna with thin sheets
of bread printed with vegetables
Snapper and trumpet zucchini with
condiments of local flavours
Some of the specialities served here are cookpot of small
spelt and baby vegetables, snapper and ‘trumpet’ zucchini, and
breast of squab from the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence region
served with grilled polenta and tasty jus thickened with giblets.
Cookpot of morels and vegetables
The bill for such a luxurious experience is hefty. Depending
on which menu you opt for, it may be as low as €145 or as high
as € 310. Exceptional customers may even be treated to their
own custom menu, complete with a souvenir card for them to
take home.
Pictures of Le Louis XV – Alain Ducasse (Monte Carlo, Monaco) by Thomas Dhellemmes and Bernard Touillon
34 Astelier
Mezzaluna (Bangkok, Thailand)
Downtown Bangkok hosts one of the most highly rated (and
not to mention priciest) restaurants in Asia—Mezzaluna. This
fine-dining establishment sits on the 65 th floor of the Lebua
Hotel, offering patrons a generous view of the capital city’s
skyline. The restaurant is headed by chefs Thomas and Mathias
Suhring, twin brothers who share a love for culinary excellence.
Mezzaluna has received several awards for its food and service
quality, the most notable of which was the 2011-2013: HAPA
Restaurant of the Year, The Best in Asia award at the
Hospitality Asia Platinum Awards.
When preparing the menus, the Suhring chefs draw from a
wealth of experience acquired from working in the Michelinstarred kitchens of Europe. The cuisine is a mix of European
contemporary dishes blended with an East Asian touch. Diners
choose either a four-course menu or a seven-course menu
(changed daily).
Golden Tilefish gently fried with crispy
scales green pea, fermented soybean and
aromatic tea from seasonal mushrooms
Anjou Pigeon toasted over
open flames
Wild turbot slowly roasted on the bone for three hours with
phool cobi, curry, blue pea flowers and jasmine rice broth
Unique delicacies on offer include rainbow trout cooked on
cedar wood, Nova Scotia lobster poached in anis butter,
Burgaud duck roasted on the bone, and seared Diamondin
lamb. The chefs are very supportive of local and organic
products (although they also purchase ingredients from
international growers). They even have a working relationship
with a number of royally initiated agricultural projects. Food
preparation and preservation, including smoking, pickling,
drying, curing and grilling, are all done on-site with their own
blend of herbal oils, vinegars, bouillons and fruit as well as
vegetable extracts.
A lot of thought has also gone in to the restaurant’s décor and
architectural elements. Every table is carefully positioned to
maximise privacy while also allowing diners to look out the
windows and admire the view outside. The kitchen is positioned
at one end of the restaurant to avoid distracting patrons with
glaring lighting while earthy tones and leaf motifs all around
reference the seasonal ingredients used in the dishes.
Mezzaluna has an open kitchen concept, which means diners
are free to visit the kitchen for a chat with the chefs and even
watch them at work. Prices here range from THB3,900 to
THB6,900. A
Astelier 35