The Top Tables of 2014
When it comes to new restaurants, 2014 looks to be the year of border crossings. In the coming months, several of the greatest chefs in the world will open places that are—geographically or gastronomically—far from home. Some of these, like a potential joint venture in Rio de Janeiro between French Alain Ducasse and Brazilian Alex Atala, are still in the earliest planning stages. But taken together they promise an exciting year, one in which—gastronomically, at least—the world gets a little smaller.
Ristorante Italia: Massimo Bottura holds three Michelin stars and currently occupies third place on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list for the dreamlike, cutting-edge dishes he produces at Osteria Francescana in Modena, Italy. This spring, he plans to expand his base beyond Modena to perhaps that most cosmopolitan of all cities, Istanbul. At home, Bottura is far more a vanguard artist than a traditional nonno. But at Ristorante Italia—a fine-dining establishment housed within a new outpost of Eataly, Mario Batali’s Italian food hall—Bottura will revitalize the classic dishes of the Italian repertoire, such as osso buco and zuppa inglese.
Yauarcan: The less famous of Spain’s two famous brothers, Albert Adrià played an essential role in making elBulli the revolution it was. Then he went on to prove there was no one better at traditional tapas, at his restaurant Tickets in Barcelona or at the Peruvian-Japanese mash-up cuisine known as Nikkei at his second Barcelona restaurant, Pakta. This spring, Adrià will turn his attention to Mexico, opening a space in Barcelona’s Raval neighborhood that, in addition to a taqueria and a bar serving the snacks called botanas, will include seating for at least 80 in the dining room where the always-inventive chef will riff on tortillas and pozole.
Pujol: And speaking of pozole, Mexico’s most acclaimed chef, Enrique Olvera, will open a second edition of his restaurant Pujol, in New York City’s Flatiron District. Olvera’s profound knowledge of local flavors and ingredients, married to unflinchingly inventiveness, has put Mexico City’s Pujol on the World’s 50 Best list. His version of Mexican cuisine is intensely personal—just consider his 170-day mole. He treats it as if it were a sourdough starter, adding more sauce, nuts, and peppers to the base whenever it starts running low, so that the flavor, somehow familiar and wholly new at the same time, grows more complex.
Restaurant David Toutain: Just as we were going live, we learned that David Toutain’s new restaurant, in the posh Seventh Arrondissement in Paris, would open not in 2014 as expected, but on Dec. 23, 2013. Given the excitement surrounding a chef who trained with the French greats Bernard Loiseau and Alain Passard and then wowed the better part of Paris with the artistic, intricately flavored odyssey he served at his previous restaurant, l’Agapé Substance, it makes sense that there would be anticipation on all sides. Since resigning from l’Agapé a year ago, Toutain has been traveling, and cooking one-off dinners in New York and California. He promises to bring that international influence to the new place that, in a decided break with recent Paris trends, will feature a more focused menu (no more 20-course tastings) and mark a return to full-bore fine dining. A community table will be set aside for last-minute reservations and walk-ins.
Dubai Marina Social: One of the kitchens that chef Jason Atherton helmed was at Gordon Ramsay’s Verre in Dubai, so there’s something fitting about the fact that, now that Atherton has a globe-spanning empire of his own, he is heading back to the United Arab Emirates. Housed in the high-rise canal city being built along Dubai’s shoreline, Marina Social will have its own DJ and a nightclub attached to the dining room. But mostly, it will have the technically proficient but undeniably fun cooking that earned Atherton a Michelin star at Pollen Street Social in London, where a starter called Full English Breakfast consists of slow-cooked egg atop roasted wild mushrooms and dessert may involve a deconstructed peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich.
Unnamed Project by Simon Rogan: One chef who is bucking the border-crossing trend is Simon Rogan, who will replace Gordon Ramsay’s old place at Claridge’s in London with a yet-to-be-named new restaurant in the spring. Rogan’s Michelin two-star l’Enclume in the Lake District was voted best restaurant of 2013 by The Guardian’s Observer Food Monthly for its exquisite ingredients (many of which come from Rogan’s own farm in Cumbria) and exquisite preparations. Now he will have the chance to pair that dedication to the locally grown and foraged with the unmatched high-church service of Claridge’s.