Nick's top 25 restaurants

4 Apr 2004 by JR
1. St John, London. For its bar, restaurant and bread.

2. Ballymaloe, Co Cork, Eire. The Allan's culinary beacon in a stunningly tranquil setting.

3. The Walnut Tree Inn, near Abergavenny, Wales, for unforgettable New Year Day lunches.

4. The Fat Duck, Bray where Heston Blumenthal pushes the boundaries of cooking to extremes.

5. El Bulli, Rosas, Spain. Where Ferran Adria does the same but with a far larger team in a restaurant overlooking the Mediterranean.

6. The small town of Mealhada between Porto and Lisbon. Initially discovered by lorry drivers this is the epicentre of suckling pig restaurants worldwide.

7. Olivier Roellinger, Cancale, northern France. Elegance, cooking inspired by the herbs and spices of the former French Empire and oysters in abundance.

8. Taillevent, Paris. The standard bearer - what every French restaurant in the world should seek to emulate.

9. La Crepa, Isola Doverese, near Cremona, Italy. Wonderful food and wine in a 19th century building within a medieval walled town.

10. Tomata, Santorini. Set within a former olive oil factory, ten metres from the beach this is modern Greek food at its best.

11. Cafe Pushkin, Moscow. A perfect replica of a 19th Russian restaurant which is, amazingly, only four years old.

12. Kronenhalle, Zurich. Wonderfully robust food but the art on the walls is even more memorable.

13. The Merchant House, Ludlow, Shropshire. The one man show, where chef/proprietor Shaun Hill is as proficient a chef as he is a washer-up.

14. Gidleigh Park, Devon. A unique combination - where the food and the wine match the views over Dartmoor.

15. Steirereck, Vienna. Unusual Styrian food and wonderful wines in an impressive setting.

16. L'Atelier du Robuchon, Paris. The modern face of the restaurant which breaks down the barrier between the customer and the chef.

17. The sushi bar at Nobu, London. Theatre, fantastic fish and enjoyable even if you are on your own.

18. Alle Testiere, Venice. Definitely the smallest (10 tables!) and certainly one of the most perfect fish restaurants anywhere.

19. Troisgros, Roanne, France. Untouchable even after 40 years and its brasserie, Central, just round the corner is unmissable, too.

20. Bull & Bear, Oporto, Portugal. Inspired, cerebral cooking from a chef who initially trained as a classical pianist.

21. Torre del Remi, Pyrenees

22. Gastronomica Clinica, Albergo Arnaldo, Rubiera, Italy The most aptly named restaurant in the world which also serves the very finest bollito misto.

23. Hotel Benazuza, outside Seville, southern Spain. Staffed by disciples of Ferran Adria who serve the most inspired breakfast.

24. Harry's Bar, London

25. Bibendum, London. For its style, oyster bar and its initial chef, Simon Hopkinson.

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