Miss eating out? Here are 8 restaurants worth traveling for
Vogue, March 2021
This article, originally written for Vogue Global Network, has been published on British Vogue
The days are getting longer, spring is around the corner, and, after months of lockdowns, we’re about to enter an era of newfound freedom. With businesses preparing to reopen their doors, 2021 will undoubtedly witness a restaurant renaissance — and we’ve got the answers to the question on everyone’s lips: where to eat out first?
Dreaming of your first meal out in 2021? You’re not alone. No shade to banana bread, but with lockdown lifting for many within the next few months, we’ll soon be able to leave the days of Instagram-inspired broiling and baking behind (and not a day too soon).
While many of us have been expanding our home-cooking repertoire, the hospitality industry has taken a dizzying hit. The good news? Change is on the horizon. And while things will take just a little while longer to return to the pre-Covid status quo, freedom is now so close you can almost taste it.
As restaurants are preparing to reopen their doors, what better time than the present to secure your reservations at some of the world’s most exciting culinary hotspots? From Berlin to Osaka, by way of Brooklyn, here are the restaurants worth travelling for in 2021.
The location: Berlin, Germany
The scoop: You would be forgiven for walking straight past 893 Ryōtei’s mirrored, graffiti-covered door with its nothing-to-see-here aesthetic, so typical of the German capital’s “poor but sexy” mantra, coined by former mayor Klaus Wowereit. If, however, you belong to the lucky initiated few, you’ll step inside a neon-drenched Shangri-la with a hint of Blade Runner: dark marble countertops, mood lighting and velvet aplenty, all set to a roaring soundtrack. The brainchild of ubiquitous restaurateur The Duc Ngo, 893 Ryōtei offers high-end, Peruvian-Japanese fusion and a chance to spot the city’s glitterati.
The winning dish: The black cod with miso
The location: Copenhagen, Denmark
The scoop: No disrespect to Noma, but we can’t help but think that the perennially booked-up Scandi wunderkind has been hogging Copenhagen’s culinary limelight for the better part of the past decade-and-a-half. Enter: Krebsegaarden. Located in the Danish capital’s dazzling waterfront district of Christianshavn, this chameleonic restaurant draws its gastronomic inspiration from the rotating works of art displayed in the adjacent Galleri Krebsen, making good on the age-old idiom that we eat with our eyes first.
The winning dish: The seasonal taster menu
The location: Brooklyn, New York, US
The scoop: Come for Chef Greg Baxtrom’s first-class culinary résumé (which includes a stint at the world-renowned, multi-Michelin-starred Alinea in Chicago), stay for the incredible flavours and unpretentious atmosphere. Start your evening by treating your taste buds to a cocktail in the leafy backyard — we recommend the mezcal-infused rosemary. Then, move inside for an evening of epicurean farm-to-table bliss, Brooklyn-style. Olmsted is a true New York unicorn: ambitious yet approachable, delicious yet affordable.
The winning dish: The beef tartare with nutmeg hollandaise
The location: Osaka, Japan
The scoop: Lovingly dubbed tenka no daidokoro (“the nation’s kitchen”), Japan’s second-largest city is a magnet for all self-proclaimed epicures. As you walk through the city’s vibrant markets, you’ll notice the air is heavy and fragrant with the region’s beloved street foods. Anyone looking for a truly unforgettable evening should make a booking — well ahead of time, might we add — at one of Osaka’s most sought-after restaurants, the Michelin-starred Yonemasu. Don’t let the pared-back, zen-like decor fool you: the multi-course, traditional kaiseki menu will leave you speechless.
The winning dish: The 12-dish kaiseki tasting menu
The location: Istanbul, Turkey
The scoop: Opened in 1901 and tucked away in the Grand Bazaar, Istanbul’s world-famous market, is the iconic Pandeli. Offering a dazzling selection of Anatolian delicacies — from mouth-watering mezze to sumptuous stews and seared-to-perfection seafood — as well as a breathtaking view of the glistening Bosphorus and the famous Galata Bridge in the distance, this unassuming gem offers a welcome respite from the city’s frenetic hustle and bustle.
The winning dish: The “sultan’s delight” lamb stew and roasted aubergines
The location: London, UK
The scoop: Diners looking for a quiet evening need not apply: The Palomar is clamorous and eccentric, worshipping at the altar of Middle Eastern boldness. But isn’t that exactly what the doctor ordered after months of solitude when the only noise punctuating our days were our neighbours putting the pedal to the metal with their new Peloton bikes? The Palomar’s Israeli-inspired sharing plates are all delicious — from glazed octopus to beetroot hummus and pork-belly tagine — but it’s the pulsating ambience that will make you realise how much you’ve truly missed eating out.
The winning dish: The ‘octo-hummus’ (the clue’s in the name)
Ristorante Santa Elisabetta
The location: Florence, Italy
The scoop: While we would never look down on a good Eat Pray Love-inspired, the pizza-fuelled journey of self-discovery among the cobbled streets of Rome, you would be remiss not to stop at this relative newcomer in Tuscany’s picturesque capital. Located in the city’s oldest building, the Byzantine tower of Pagliazza, the two-Michelin-starred Santa Elisabetta is headed up by executive Chef Rocco De Santis. Fusing tradition and innovation, De Santis takes Italian staples, such as the classic Neapolitan ragù, and modernises them without betraying their rich, cultural fibre.
The winning dish: The buffalo ricotta cappelletti
The location: St Petersburg, Russia
The scoop: Even though this trendy restaurant near the famous Transfiguration Cathedral is named after Russia’s national emblem, Chef Hezret-Arslan Berdiev forgoes traditional Slavic fare in favour of a more eclectic menu. Berdiev fuses Asian, Latin and European elements to create some truly stunning dishes and, much like the menu, Birch’s interior is upscale, yet grounded: warm, pale wood is interspersed with cool steel and no-nonsense, slate-grey walls.
The winning dish: The beef tataki