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10 unique and luxury dining experiences around the world

From a three Michelin-starred Californian restaurant to a Nordic setup under the sea, here are the world’s 10 hottest reservations for globetrotting gastronomes.

By Joel Porter
Published 16 Dec 2019, 15:00 GMT
The restaurant Under in Norway is as much about the food as the dramatic setting.
The restaurant Under in Norway is as much about the food as the dramatic setting.
Photograph by Ivar Kvaal

1. Under, Norway

Under, which can also mean ‘wonder’ in Norwegian, opened in March 2019 near the town of Lindesnes on the country’s southern tip. Designed by Snøhetta, the Norwegian architecture firm behind the Museum Pavilion at the National September 11 Memorial Museum in New York, the restaurant is in an oblong box that juts out of the sea at a 45° angle. Inside, diners descend a staircase to a stark but stylish room with a huge window looking out on the sea life. With just 40 seats and an 18-course menu costing £330 per person, Under is as much about the food as the setting. The menu, which was created by acclaimed chef Nicolai Ellitsgaard Pedersen, features fish dishes as well as wild seabirds and local lamb.
Did you know: the restaurant’s shell is designed to fully integrate into its underwater environment over time, acting as an artificial reef to attract and provide a home for marine life.

2. Le Royal, Champagne, France

A new hotel and restaurant in the heart of Champagne was never going to be anything less than luxurious, and the Royal Champagne Hotel and Spa delivers the goods in Jeroboam-sized quantities. It’s signature restaurant, Le Royal, opened in the summer of 2018 is set in an opulent dining room with wood-panelled walls, huge artworks and a ceiling covered in gold leaf. Headed up by chef Jean-Denis Rieubland, Le Royal earned a Michelin star just six months after opening and features French dishes as indulgent as the setting. There’s even the option to have every course paired with Champagne, with the sommelier highlighting a different producer each month.
What to order: The sea bass fillet in a champagne sauce, accompanied by beans and carrots in lemon zest is exquisite. After all, when in Champagne... 

The Legacy House pays tribute to the Shunde cuisine of China’s Guangdong province.
Photograph by The Legacy House

3. The Legacy House, Rosewood, Hong Kong

This is the jewel in the crown of the ever-expanding Rosewood hotel group. The Legacy House comes complete with dark wood interiors, modern art and contemporary light fixtures, plus incredible views overlooking Victoria Harbour. The food pays tribute to the Shunde cuisine of China’s Guangdong province, and the kitchen is headed up by Li Chi-Wai, who takes regular trips to Hong Kong’s famed wet markets looking for the best and freshest ingredients. The menu includes Shunde specialities like minced fish soup and Daliang-style wok-fried milk, crab meat, egg white and bird’s nest. Northern Chinese dishes such as Peking duck and suckling pig also feature on the menu.
While in the area: Rosewood features several other restaurants and bars, including The Butterfly Room, an all-day lounge decorated with Damian Hirst’s artworks.      

4. Casa Maria Luigia, Emilia-Romagna, Italy

Opened in spring 2019, Francescana at Casa Maria Luigia is already one of the hottest reservations in the world. This comes as no surprise once you learn that the pair behind it are Lara Gilmore and Massimo Bottura — owners of the three-Michelin star Osteria Francescana in Modena. Set in a refurbished carriage house, the restaurant offers a nine-course €450 (£417) tasting menu, including dishes such as Oops I Dropped the Lemon Tart.
While in the area: The city of Modena, birthplace of Ferrari and Pavarotti, is only a 15-minute drive away, and its pretty 12th-century streets are well worth exploring.

Siren's red mullet in a Champagne sauce.
Photograph by Siren

5. Siren, The Goring Hotel, London, UK

Bringing together Nathan Outlaw and London’s most prestigious hotel, The Goring, Siren has become one of the city’s most talked-about restaurants. Opened in June 2019, Siren is the first new restaurant at The Goring since 1910 and no expense has been spared. Set in a spectacular glass conservatory, interiors have been designed by Russell Sage and feature plaster works of mythical sea creatures — a nod to the restaurant’s name. Siren’s menu showcases the nation’s best seafood, which is delivered daily from Cornwall.
What to order: Herbed, battered turbot with tartare may be the poshest fish and chips out there.

6. SingleThread, California, USA

Three-Michelin starred SingleThread sits deep in California’s wine country. Chef-owner Kyle Connaughton uses vegetables, fruit, and herbs grown by his wife Katina on their family farm nearby, and serves up multicourse Japanese kaiseki, one of the world’s highest culinary art forms. Menus change daily but may include delicacies like black cod with root vegetables, cabbage, charred onion, and walnut-nori pesto.
While in the area: a visit to the SingleThread farm, just seven miles from the restaurant, is a must, as is a drive though Sonoma County, home to some of California’s best wineries.

7. The Clunie Dining Room at The Fife Arms, Braemar, UK

Built in the 19th century, The Fife Arms was completely refurbished last year. Nestled in the Scottish Highlands, the interior was designed by Russell Sage and the restaurant, The Clunie Dining Room, features a stunning Cubist-style mural by Argentinean artist Guillermo Kuitca. Magnus Burstedt’s menu is centred around wood-fire cooking and Scottish produce, with highlights including langoustine with shaved cauliflower, celeriac purée and fermented kohlrabi, and braised red deer with smoked San Marzano tomatoes.
Did you know: Robert Louis Stevenson began to write the first chapters of his classic novel Treasure Island while staying in Braemar.

Wolfgat's head chef Kobus van der Merwe foraging.
Photograph by Wolfgat

8. Wolfgat, Cape Town, South Africa

A tiny beach hideaway in the village of Paternoster, Wolfgat shot to fame this year when it was named ‘best in the world’ at the World Restaurant Awards. Seating 20 people in a 130-year-old barn looking out across the ocean, this restaurant is both rustic and elegant. Head chef Kobus van der Merwe showcases seasonal produce, such as seafood, local lamb and venison specific to the coastal region in a seven-course tasting menu.
Did you know: Before opening Wolfgat, Kobus collaborated with botanist Rupert Koopman on cookbook Strandveld Food, which taught him about the wild plants that now inform his menus.  

9. Musashi at Aman Tokyo, Japan

The latest sushi counter to take the city by storm is from renowned master chef Hiroyuki Musashi, who opened at the Aman Tokyo in October 2018. With just eight seats, the £185 omakase (chef’s choice) menu is fixed, but differs each day and will always include eight tsumami (appetisers) and 10 nigiri based on the day’s best ingredients. To drink, there’s the Musashi by Aman sake, exclusively produced for the restaurant by artisans at the renowned Niizawa Brewery in Miyagi.
While in the area: The restaurant’s located just a stone’s throw from the Imperial Palace Gardens, home of the Japanese royal family and one of Tokyo’s prettiest green spaces.

10. MIL, Sacred Valley, Peru

MIL in Peru’s Sacred Valley is the latest restaurant by Virgilio Martínez, the acclaimed chef behind Lima restaurant Central, currently number two in the Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants list. MIL, a 45-minute winding drive from the Andean city of Cusco, is 3,500 metres above sea level and takes advantage of the Sacred Valley’s varied vegetation. Everything on the eight-course menu focuses on regionally harvested ingredients; vegetables, grains and potatoes play starring roles, and dishes are lighter than those on Central in Lima’s menu to cater for the effect that high altitude can have on appetite. Each course is paired with an infusion distilled in-house with local herbs, and MIL’s crafted chocolate and coffee completes the luxurious off-grid gourmet experience.
Did you know: MIL has an oxygen tank on standby in case guests suffering from altitude sickness need a quick top up.

Published in the National Geographic Traveller Luxury Collection 2019

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