The annual World’s 50 Best Restaurants has announced its 51-100 best restaurants, in anticipation of the top 50 announcement in Bilbao in seven day’s time. The headline is that Rene Redzepi’s Noma 2.0 in Copenhagen is not placed for the second consecutive year, because it (re)opened after the voting had been concluded. Noma topped the list between 2010-2012 and in 2014.
Two London restaurants feature in the second tier: the original St. John in Clerkenwell at number 84, and Hedone, run by Mikael Jonsson (the lawyer-turned-blogger-turned fine-dining master) in Chiswick at number 82. Heston Blumenthal’s The Fat Duck — once a mainstay at number 1 — is the highest-placing U.K. restaurant in the back 50, coming in at number 74.
This list is interesting mainly for its absentees, indicating who might be placed in the actual 50 Best list next week: Thus, the most notable absentees from London are Lyle’s, who last year were placed at 54, and Core by Clare Smyth, which would be a new entry and whose chef, Clare Smyth, was named, somewhat controversially, by the same organisation as the “best female chef in the world” two months ago.
Last year’s World’s 50 Best also featured three more London restaurants: The Clove Club in Shoreditch (number 26); The Ledbury in Notting Hill (number 27) and Dinner by Heston Blumenthal at The Mandarin Oriental in Knightsbridge (number 36). The latter’s resident hotel was recently damaged by a large fire, but the restaurant was unaffected.
Interesting, too, are the restaurants who placed high in the U.K.’s domestic forerunner to this index, the National Restaurant Awards, which were announced last night. The highest-ranking restaurant Kiln, in Soho, might now expect to get a place in the much-lauded top 50. It also wouldn’t be fanciful to imagine recently-Michelin-starred A. Wong, in Victoria, which placed third for the second consecutive year, breaking into that top 50. And might Nieves Barragán Mohacho also now imagine her new restaurant Sabor could place after being awarded with the U.K. chef of the year gong, and seeing her restaurant given the number two spot in the country.
The theory checks out: The Ledbury and The Clove Club placed second and seventh in the UK in 2017; on the other hand, The Sportsman — enjoying a burgeoning global reputation boosted by its book deal with Phaidon — had no place in the world’s “best” 100.
These consolation prizes, however, are just as important for their omissions — high-profile establishments that are likely to debut on the full list next week. Atelier Crenn in San Francisco, ranked 83 last year, appears to be a candidate to join the proper list, as it is absent from the back 50.
Chef Dominique Crenn, one of the most prominent practitioners of avant-garde cuisine in the U.S., has blasted the organizers of the list for gender inequality. There were just three female head chefs on last year’s list, with all three of those venues co-run by men. Of course it’s also possible that Crenn has dropped from the 50 Best rankings entirely, though that rarely happens to high-profile U.S. venues the year after they join the list, especially following a period of positive press and accolades.
Perhaps the most notable absence on this year’s 51-100 rankings is Rene Redzepi’s Noma in Copenhagen. The groundbreaking New Nordic restaurant closed in early 2017 before re-opening in a new space at the beginning of 2018 — too late for consideration in this year’s list, a spokesperson for 50 Best tells Eater.
Noma occupied the No. 1 position, a rank currently held by New York’s Eleven Madison Park, from 2010-2012, and then again in 2014.
The U.S. saw two restaurants join the 51-100 list: Le Coucou, Daniel Rose and Stephen Starr’s fancy French hotspot, debuting at 85, and Single Thread, Kyle Connaughton’s ambitious tasting-menu spot in Healdsburg, joining the list at 91.
Other prominent stateside moves included Corey Lee’s Benu in San Francisco, moving up 14 spots to 53, Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare in New York, which leapt 13 spots to 69, and David Chang’s Momofuku Ko, which fell to 62. Thomas Keller’s French Laundry, which occupied the No. 1 spot in 2003, continued its slow decline, now ranking at 86, while his Per Se in New York, helmed by a new chef, Corey Chow, rose to 81.
Internationally, one of the biggest debuts was Enigma, the whimsical Barcelona tasting-menu spot by Albert Adria. It joins the list at 95, far below the top spot once perennially occupied by El Bulli, where Adria worked alongside his brother, Ferran.