Europe on a plate: travelling to iconic restaurants

Its edible art on a plate – get an inside track on some of the best restaurants in Europe.

Europe’s architecture and history are the continent’s eternal calling cards and her culinary faculty the temptress. Countless Michelin starred restaurants have lead the path in demonstrating how a gifted chef handles their vegetables, meat, fish and desserts, creating works of art on a humble plate- sometimes plated with a hint of Asia, sometimes with a regional sauce or simply a creation from a genius chef’s brain. This is a journey through fertile farmlands, delightful forests and the depths of the continents’ seas, in search of creativity, passion, and exquisite dishes cooked with love. This ten first-rate abodes across Europe pay homage to local ingredients and century-old traditions of cooking, representing Europe’s identity on a plate.

Aan de Poel – Amstelveen

Display of stunning sweets – Aan de Poel
Display of stunning sweets – Aan de Poel

A stone’s throw from the Dutch capital Amsterdam lies Aan de Poel, a culinary fountain of relaxation a few miles away from the noisy and jam-packed city. Aan de Poel means ‘beside the pond’, and the elegant outdoor seating area offers grand views of a small lake indeed. Also, sandwiched between the North Sea and inland bay IJsselmeer, Aan de Poel serves a superb selection of sea gems with a pinch of Asia. Grilled lobster in curry syrup with macadamia nuts and crayfish with cucumber, mango and pecan nuts emphasise the chef’s passion for seafood and the Dutch connection with water.

Executive Chef: Stefan van Sprang  Only one year after the opening in 2007 Van Sprang and his team were rewarded with their first Michelin star. Before Van Sprang founded Aan de Poel, he worked with award-winning chefs like Ron Blaauw and the late Cas Spijkers.

Hotel nearby: Hotel Station Amstelveen

L’Accanto – Sorrento, Naples

La mia tarteletta; a dessert of wonders - L’Accanto
La mia tarteletta; a dessert of wonders – L’Accanto
L'Accanto Naples
L’Accanto Naples

Views of the Bay of Naples and Mount Vesuvius; nature comes as a delightful side dish at L’Accanto near charming Naples. Taking in the views from the terrace, you’re looking at the restaurant’s biggest supplier; the Mediterranean Sea. You can choose from two sublime seafood menus with eye-catchers such as seabass tartare and amberjack carpaccio with quail egg. The pastry chef makes sure breakfast is well taken care of; rich fruits pair with artful cakes and cookies. Waking up never was a more joyful sensation.

Executive Chef: Domenico de Simone  De Simone grew up with a spatula and plate in his hands. He worked in countless Italian restaurants, and the products from the sea have no secrets for De Simone.

Hotel nearby: Grand Hotel Angiolieri

Brat – London

The restaurant is as fresh as the ingredients the chef prepares; this praised gastronomic establishment opened its doors in April 2018. Dishes here are plated with a Basque soul and a British heart. This leads to dangerously appealing delicacies like North Sea turbot grilled over an open fire. While countless restaurants have a fireplace for a cosy appeal, here the scorching flames serve as a magical cooking tool. British classics such as rabbit sausage, blood pudding and beans blend perfectly with the seafood cooking culture from Basque Country. To chase with some sweetness, opt for burnt cheesecake and rhubarb or almond & cherry ice cream.

Executive Chef: Tomos Parry  As a youngster, Welshman Parry dreamed of being a guitarist. After working in several restaurants, he managed to shake up the food scene in London in 2018 by opening instantly successful Brat.

Hotel nearby: Citizenm London Shoreditch

Charlotte & Fritz – Berlin

Classy tones and vivid colours light up the interior - Charlotte & Fritz
Classy tones and vivid colours light up the interior – Charlotte & Fritz
L’Accanto Salmon fillet, with dill, horseradish and beetroot – Charlotte & Fritz
L’Accanto Salmon fillet, with dill, horseradish and beetroot – Charlotte & Fritz

The motto of this fine diner is ‘Fine. Farm. Food’ and after briefly scanning the extensive menu you will find Charlotte & Fritz indeed uses ingredients collected from the German forests and farmlands. The chef works with plenty of game and vegetables. The German identity is vital in the kitchen, as shown on plates of pork cheek with confit grapes and sauerkraut jus and seasonable vegetable ragout with farm egg.

Executive Chef: JörgLawerenz His resume is more than impressive; Lawerenz used to be sous chef at the 3 Michelin Star restaurant of SchlosshotelLerbach in BergischGladbach and executive chef at the 1 Michelin Star restaurant of Romantik Hotel Walk’sches Haus in Weingarten.

Onyx – Budapest

This establishment is a classic on top of the culinary charts for over 11 years. Onyx emphasises some of Hungary’s stunning components; an abundance of pastries, pasta, pickles and wine together creating the country’s well-known wizardry on the table. Onyx lifts the Hungarian comfort food to a surreal sophisticated level. The best ingredients Hungary has to offer are translated to the ‘Within Our Borders’ dinner menu with sturgeon soup, water buffalo tartare and for dessert Flodni, a traditional Jewish-Hungarian cake with cinnamon, walnuts and wine. With a wine pairing, you complete your tastebuds’ travels across Hungary.

Executive Chef: ÁdámMészáros  The 31-year old Mészáros pushed the culinary level to the sky at Onyx, that received the prestigious second Michelin Star in 2018. Onyx is the first and only Hungarian restaurant with 2 Michelin Stars.

Hotel nearby: Kempinski Hotel Corvinus Budapest

Botrini’s – Athens

Exquisite execution – Botrini’s
Exquisite execution – Botrini’s

Combine a Greece-based restaurant, Italian influences and a well-travelled chef, and divine Botrini’s is the alluring blend that forms when the smoke clears. Athens meets the sea, and the saline breeze from the Mediterranean blows gently through the menu list. Swordfish carpaccio and octopus shimmer are adored amidst many, while the Italian roots of the executive chef percolate in the seafood carbonara and pappardelle pasta with duck and truffle. Request for ‘Chef’s Table’ if you wish to see raw ingredients turned into ingenious artworks on a plate by the hands of the kitchen virtuosos in front of you.

Executive Chef: Ettore Botrini has been a chef for decades and worked in restaurants in Spain, France and Greece. He bundles that international expertise in the current menu of Botrini’s.

Hotel nearby: Hotel Grande Bretagne a Luxury Collection Hotel

Restaurant Santceloni – Madrid

The classic wooden tables luminous under pleasant spotlights, extrovert art and the kitchen views absorb you into a unique dining experience in the beating heart of Madrid. Although presented with a creative twist, the dishes display why the Spanish cuisine is high up at the culinary ladder for many people. Succulent pork, veal, truffles, deer, prawns, and mackerel showcase the best from all environments in the Iberian Peninsula. Red prawn flambeed in whiskey and ox rib salad capture the creativity without leaving Spain’s delicious ingredients behind.

Executive Chef: Oscar Velasco  At the age of 16, Velasco started his life in the kitchen by washing dishes in a small restaurant. Little did he know that he would serve widely awarded plates himself.

Opus – Vienna

Traditional Opus is located in a 1930s-style studio in the baroque epicentre of Vienna. It’s a place where artists and craftsmen channelled their imagination over wine and food; an Austrian bed of roses at the foot of the mighty Alps. Consciously choosing local produce, the chef presents his brainchildren from a universal perspective; ingredients such as quinoa, coconut, and jasmin rice form a notably successful formula combined with Austrian classics like veal, lamb and beets. All delicacies are dished out under glamorous chandeliers and fine Austrian wine.

Executive Chef: Rupert Schnait is a member of the prestigious Club des Chefs des Chefs; a global organisation of chefs who serve royalty, prime ministers or presidents. Around 40 chefs are given this tremendous honour, worldwide.

Hotel nearby: Hotel Imperial – A Luxury Collection Hotel

108 – Copenhagen

Copenhagen - spotless dining experience
Copenhagen – spotless dining experience
Copenhagen - picture-perfect pastry
Copenhagen – picture-perfect pastry

Danish cuisine consists of nutritious, hearty ingredients such as pork, eggs, and butter. Elegant 108 has a silky approach to Nordic staples; dishes come with a hint of foamy fluffiness, providing a very accessible eating experience for everyone. Swede salad with gooseberry and tagetes and leeks with salted plums and aged cheese are two examples of the lightness and delicacy the chef at 108 aims to achieve. Pick one or more dishes from the ‘Livretter’ menu – favourites – for sharing and more robust servings, like raw lamb with last year’s pickles.

Executive Chef: Kristian Baumann  He gained experience while working in Noma, a Copenhagen based restaurant that steadily earns a place in the top 10 best restaurants in the world over the last decade.

Hotel nearby: 71 Nyhavn Hotel

Le Petit Nice – Marseille

The Mediterranean Sea is not just a vast water part you see from Le Petit Nice’s outdoor terrace; it’s a deep inspiration and a bountiful supplier to this divine southern French hideaway. Braising, grilling, slicing raw fish with samurai precision; the chef at Le Petit Nice almost takes you on a submarine ride to the bottom of the Mediterranean itself. Sea bass, sea anemone, and raw red mullet are some of the exotic must-tries. A platter of French cheese composed by cheese authority Philippe Olivier is a menu item that’s hard to ignore either.

Executive Chef: Gérald Passédat  This accoladed chef proudly has 3 Michelin Stars since 2008. Cooking is in Passédat’s veins; his father became a chef himself and founded Le Petit Nice back in in 1966.

Comfy and chic bar area - Le Petit Nice
Comfy and chic bar area – Le Petit Nice

Hotel nearby: Hotel Le Pigonnet

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© This article was first published in Apr-May 2019 edition of World Travel Magazine.

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