Travelling for one meal may seem excessive but when it’s life-changingly good, it’s totally worth it.
For enthusiastic foodie travellers, the following destination restaurants offer Europe’s five finest dining experiences, promising new flavours and concepts that will blow your mind.
Dinner by Heston Blumenthal/John Blackwell
Dinner by Heston Blumenthal, London
Whatever you think of Heston Blumenthal’s controversial smokey bacon ice cream or snail porridge, a meal at his London restaurant is an experience one hundred percent worth travelling for. Views straight into the kitchen or out onto Hyde Park, practically indescribable flavours, and the sensational ‘meat fruit’ dish. Cut through the orange, jelly shell concealing lighter-than-air chicken liver parfait as a mandarin, then spread generously on the perfectly-grilled sourdough for a mouthful to remember.
Why not splurge and treat yourself to a stay in the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, the hotel in which the restaurant is based? That way you only need to carry your food baby upstairs for a well-deserved rest.
The conservatory dining room at Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons
Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, Oxfordshire
In 1984, in a historic Oxfordshire manor house, French chef Raymond Blanc established his luxury hotel-restaurant, Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons. Almost everything on the menu is sourced from the hotel’s extensive grounds, and the kitchens have trained a number of Michelin-starred chefs, including Heston Blumenthal. The spring risotto with tomato essence and chervil cream, is a riot of natural colour, topped with asparagus and herbs fresh from the garden; every mouthful tastes as good as it looks.
Stay in the Oxfordshire Hotel & Spa for a post-meal pamper and scenic surroundings.
Avant-garde concoctions at Funky Gourmet
Funky Gourmet, Athens
A relaxed, sophisticated eatery in a neoclassical building, Funky Gourmet has style and substance. Experimental recipes include a white granita that contains all the flavours of a Greek salad - tomatoes, cucumber, Feta, onions, and olives. The owners and chefs previously worked at legendary Spanish restaurant El Bulli and have carried an avant-garde style of cooking with them into their restaurant in the ancient Keramikos neighbourhood of Athens.
The Kolonaki Deco Apartment in Athens is a suitably sophisticated place to stay after treating yourself to a world-class meal, with cool airy rooms decorated with pea-green velvet sofas and mahogany furniture, and a huge roof terrace.
Pakta serves 'Nikkei', a fusion of Peruvian and Japanese cuisine
Owned and run by Albert Adrià who, together with his brother Ferran, created the world-famous Spanish restaurant El Bulli, Pakta is an exciting new venture. Carving out a niche for itself with ‘Nikkei’ cuisine, a fusion of Peruvian and Japanese food, Pakta is creative and well-crafted; not only the recipes but also the interior, a calming blend of Japanese minimalism and Peruvian colour.
Catalonia Square is a superb hotel just a short walk from the beach, also with a stunning outdoor pool, and polished, modern interiors.
Arguably the best restaurant in the world, Noma
Noma is a once-in-a-lifetime dining experience. Should you be blessed enough to clinch a booking at this world-famous institution, you’ll be able to experience Danish chef and owner René Redzepi’s inspired interpretation of Nordic/Scandinavian cuisine. Noma places considerable emphasis on seasonal cooking, with seafood in the winter, foliage in spring and summer, and mushrooms and the like in autumn. The restaurant’s stellar reputation is well-deserved, with sublimely imaginative recipes and a consistent high-quality that beggars belief.
Copenhagen’s Factory Style apartment is a huge studio-esque space featuring the very best of Nordic design; think endless white, lots of candles, and wrought iron chairs.
*At time of writing, Noma has temporarily closed while it reopens with its own vegetable farm in a new location.