That’s the lofty list released today by food website The Daily Meal.
Sometimes it seems like we already have far too many “best restaurant” lists, and in this column I’ve previously looked at the pros, cons and glaring omissions of a similar Top 100 US Restaurants list.
But what makes this one different is how far it goes beyond the usual big city suspects. Sure the top ten restaurants, the crème de la crème, include entries in Paris and London, but they also include Wolfsburg Germany, Kruishoutem, Belgium and Ljubljana, Slovenia. Other countries covered that didn’t crack the top ten but are notable for their omission from most other foodie lists include the likes of Malta, Latvia, Estonia and Croatia.
The site’s press release acknowledges this diversity: “The Daily Meal’s 101 Best Restaurants in Europe list is unrivaled. While other Best of Europe lists like Zagat have covered similar territory, no one else has covered 31 countries and enlisted the assistance of European food and dining experts to whittle down the continent’s thousands of restaurants (we started with 1,450) into a more manageable 101 – leaving only the essential restaurants that discerning diners must try.”
The methodology behind this included a 7-month nomination process and a panel of 33, which includes a few European food journalists/restaurant critics but seems to be mostly individual food bloggers, most of whom I have never heard of and many of them surprisingly U.S. based. Normally, after quickly reviewing their names and bios, the “esteemed panel of 33 experts” would make me somewhat nervous about this list, but I wanted to give it a fair chance.
The whimsical foie gras “popsicle” at Italy’s Osteria Francescana
I was immediately hooked when I saw what they had picked as the Number One Restaurant in Europe: Osteria Francescana in Modena, Italy.
Just a couple of months ago I wrote in detail about Osteria Francescana here for Forbes.com, acknowledging that it is the finest restaurant in Italy, and asking the question, is it the best in the world? If not, it’s close (the respected San Pellegrino list, which has displaced Michelin as the authoritative world ranking for most serious foodies, has it fifth on earth, ahead of any U.S eatery).
It’s hard to critique a list like this, because as much as I travel and get to try some great eateries around the world, I have never been to Wolfsburg, Kruishoutem or Ljubljana. So for background I took a glance back at the site’s earlier list, 101 Best Restaurants in the U.S., and was immediately dismayed – near the very top they include three specialized eateries, their bests for pizza (LA’s Mozza), BBQ (Austin’s Franklin’s) and steak (NY’s Peter Luger) all of which I have been to and all of which are blogger faves but way overrated for their genres, not even remotely close to best in breed. But this list had different judges, so it’s not really fair to rely on the U.S. list as in indicator of accuracy.
At the end of the day, I completely buy into the number one pick, which makes it easy to give credit to the entire list. But I will reserve judgment simply because there are too many places that I have not visited. Instead, I note this as simply another resource available to the hungry traveler.
Have you been to some of these? What do you think?