The NY Times last year published a piece on the “10 Restaurants Worth a Plane Ride” that I happened upon again recently. I routinely fly all over the world to eat at a specific restaurant, so I was immediately intrigued. Gisela Williams’s choices are a bit odd in my book! I also had a hard time with the layout of the article on the Times website, where they decided to make the restaurant name so tiny you skip right past it, but that’s another blog somewhere else.
Here are her choices: Aponiente in Spain, Benu in San Francisco, Dinner by Heston Blumenthal in London, M. Wells in Long Island City New York, Momofuku in Sydney, Restaurant Andre in Singapore, Restaurante Garzon in Uruguay, Tickets in Spain, and Willows Inn in Washington.
In October, I flew to Italy to eat at three resturants: Le Calandre in Padova, Il Canto outside Sienna and Osteria Francescana in Modena. At Le Calandre, we were bullied into eating a specific tasting menu when in fact I wanted to experience the Biennalle menu that was a special at the time. At Osteria Francescana, I had my favorite single dish (Parmesan five ways) but dinner was ruined by a Brazilian couple who video chatted through the entire meal. Il Canto, proved to be my absolute favorite. Every dish was inspired and special. I want to stay at the Certosa di Maggiano for a couple weeks and have the chef prepare me something different every night! As it was, we were only there one night on a detour from our travels specifically to eat at Il Canto.
Back to the NY Times article. I would fly for Tickets, the latest from Ferran Adria who closed El Bulli. I never had the chance to dine at El Bulli and that is one of my few food regrets (I also regret being a vegetarian as a teenager only to be forced into a elimination diet many years later–eat everything because someday you may not be able to). Willows Inn on Lummi Island is a short drive from my house and a rare treat in Washington. The inn picked up a young chef who worked at Noma in Copenhagen, which many consider the best restaurant in the world. The food is nothing like Noma, but it is also a welcome reprieve from PNW and Seattle food. Dinner by Heston Blumenthal is new but already receiving accolades, so a visit there might be needed. Although, I have eaten at his other restaurants and was not left awestruck.
The others I would love to try, but I wouldn’t get on a plane specifically for them. Including Momofuku, Sydney on the list automatically loses me. The chain (some call it an empire) in New York City is mediocre at best and not very innovative. So why fly to Sydney to try what I can eat in New York? Although, it is a great excuse for David Chang to spend a few months in Sydney every year.
What’s on my current list? Mugaritz in Spain (I could spend a week eating in San Sebastian), Frantzen/Lindeberg in Sweden, Oud Sluis in the Netherland, and Le Grenouillere in France. Check out the Oud Sluis website; now that’s a rockstar chef!