See the most beautiful dishes from restaurants around the globe — from California to Tokyo and everywhere in between!
Dish: Inverted Cherry Tomato Tart
At Coi, visionary chef Daniel Patterson showcases produce in dishes like this upside-down tomato tart, in which quickly charred, peeled cherry tomatoes sit on a bed of pesto and are topped with a tomato puree (made in a whipped-cream dispenser) and a crispy olive tart shell.
Dish: Red Fruits from the Garden
A year’s worth of experimentation went into Andoni Luis Aduriz’s voluminous edible bubbles, made with sun-ripened berries and beetroot. The Michelin-two-starred Mugaritz was destroyed by a kitchen fire earlier this year, but Aduriz plans to reopen it this summer.
Dish: Les Cristaux de Vent (“Wind Crystals”)
Legendary French chef Pierre Gagnaire gives meringue a divine twist. He adds water to the classic egg white and sugar mixture to make it ethereally light — a discovery by molecular gastronomist Hervé This — and shapes it into gorgeous sticks.
This beautifully composed salad by the super-cerebral Michel Bras can have up to 60 individually prepared vegetables, leaves, flowers, and seeds, which vary depending on the day.
Dish: White Tuna Poached in Olive Oil
Seafood genius Eric Ripert juxtaposes the high and low in this playful dish of white tuna poached in olive oil, topped with delicate sea beans, crispy potato chips, and a light red-wine béarnaise sauce.
Dish: Heart of Palm
At Alinea in Chicago, the always-forward-thinking Grant Achatz (an F&W Best New Chef 2002) serves hearts of palm stuffed with five different fillings — from vanilla pudding to truffle-pumpernickel puree — on five separate pedestals.
Dish: Confit of Moulard Duck “Foie Gras”
This new dish by chef de cuisine Timothy Hollingsworth at the renowned French Laundry combines carefully shaved frozen foie gras with pickled huckleberries and blossoms from the restaurant’s garden.
Dish: Eggs Caviar
Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s elegant Eggs Caviar offers buttery, soft-scrambled eggs served in the shell, topped with whipped cream and a spoonful of caviar.
Dish: Sea Bream, Citrus Fruit/Peppers, Caramelized Ventrèche
Among the haute dishes at French megachef Alain Ducasse’s grand restaurant is this fish-and-citrus creation in which sea bream is prepared two ways and dotted with colorful cubes of lemon, yuzu, and bergamot-flavored jelly.
Dish: Royal Sterling Caviar “Vichyssoise” of Caraquet Oysters
Daniel Humm (an F&W Best New Chef 2005) of Eleven Madison Park juxtaposes extravagance (caviar pearls, oyster gelée) with classic French comfort food (a vichyssoise of potatoes and leeks) — all inside an oyster.
Dish: Snails on a Tin
At the much-celebrated El Bulli on the Catalonian coast, Ferran Adrià continually pushes food boundaries with dishes like Snails on a Tin. Adrià surprised the food world earlier this year by announcing that he would close his restaurant in December 2011.
Dish: Glazed Beetroot with Smoked Ox-Bone Marrow, Apples and Sorrel, Beetroot Sauce
At the Michelin two-starred Noma, René Redzepi’s fierce devotion to regional ingredients like Nordic musk ox and beetroot from Sweden’s Gotland island are on display in brilliant dishes like this one, composed of intensely flavored discs.
Dish: 48-hour Short Rib with Braised Daikon, Pickled Carrots, and Mustard Seed
At Momofuku Ko, the 12-seat-counter dining spot from David Chang (an F&W Best New Chef 2006), chef de cuisine Peter Serpico and his sous-chefs prepare extraordinary dishes like ultratender short ribs cooked sous vide for two days.
Dish: Mussels en Escabeche
At the Bazaar by José Andrés, mussels marinated in smoky pimentón-accented vinegar are served in a tin can, as an ode to Spain’s excellent canned escabeche (seafood preserved in vinegar).
Dish: L’Arpège Farm Egg
At Manresa, David Kinch pays homage to the iconic farm-egg dish at Paris’s L’Arpège: egg yolk poached in its shell with sherry vinegar, cream, and maple syrup. Among Kinch’s twists: He accents it with Tasmanian pepper.
Dish: Sound of the Sea
Avant-garde chef Heston Blumenthal’s multisensory approach to food at his Michelin three-starred Fat Duck incorporates taste, touch, aroma, and sound. His infamous Sound of the Sea is served with an iPod nano tucked inside a seashell for listening to the lull of waves crashing on a beach.
Dish: Fish with Powdery Dressing
At his two-table restaurant, Yoshiaki Takazawa’s complex, almost theatrical dishes includes one that mimics falling snow: a piece of yellowtail, mountain vegetables, and edible lily bulbs are served tableside with a dressing chilled so low — minus 328 degrees Fahrenheit — that it takes on a powdery texture that steams on contact.
Dish: Matsuba Crab Extravagant Hot Pot
Among Seiji Yamamoto’s super-inventive kaiseki dishes is this extraordinary hot pot, with Matsuba crab from the Japanese region of Tajima, 10-hour-steamed abalone, and blowfish milt in a gingery dashi broth. Attached to the dish is a diagram of how it was created.
Dish: La Tomate
French master Joël Robuchon reinterprets the classic Caprese salad by serving a thick-cut slice of tomato that’s been marinated in basil-infused olive oil alongside a tomato gelée topped with mozzarella dotted with basil pesto and tomato puree.
Dish: Cyber Egg
The innovative Davide Scabin is known for conceptual dishes like the Cyber Egg: caviar and poached egg in a plastic bubble, served with an X-acto knife.