10 of the most interesting restaurants in the world

KOKS in the Faroe Islands

A gloriously arbitrary list of exotic, strange, and simply mad restaurants, with outstanding and very different food.

KOKS in the Faroe Islands is not that easy to get to, but it's worth the effort...

The world is full of fantastic restaurants. One could never list let alone experience all of them. There are chefs who are geniuses producing dishes and meals that are revelatory, in places that are magnificent. This planet will not wither or go dark from lack of great restaurants.

But they’re not all interesting. Most of them are simple and fun and maybe convenient, and maybe just comfortable and reliably always a treat. Eleven Madison Park in NY for instance, not long ago ordained as the world’s best restaurant, a rare honor for an American establishment, is superb and flawless, and the food is invariably innovative, but, to be honest, it’s a bit boring. Worthy with a capital W. Great meal but a bit stuffy, a bit precious.

The following is a list of restaurants that are thrilling and unique. We say 10 of the most interesting because obviously there are more than ten, and we don’t, can’t, know all of them.

And anyway, we want to hear from you! We want your experiences — what unique, interesting/startling restaurant have you been to that belongs on a sequel list? We love sequels! Please tell us at beenthere@wonderlusttravel.com.

Fervor  Wherever they set up for the night, Western Australia

Who knew that Native Australian ingredients are some of the oldest foods on earth? And who’s ever heard of these wonders? Paul Iskov, with his middle-of-nowhere Western Australia pop up Fervor, is bringing Kakadu plum, Quandong, and muntrie berries to a new audience. Plus, it’s safe to assume, not many diners have had grilled crocodile head. “Fervor is a roaming restaurant, which logistically is a lot harder for us, but some of these places are just so amazing. But those are some of the best dinners we have, so we can really treat diners to a special evening” says Iskov, a young, long blond haired man, who looks like one would imagine Jesus Christ might as a chef.

Wondrous things are foraged and brought to the large tent or long outdoor tables they set up, depending on where they stop. “We’re out in nature, so it’s so inspiring. We have all these great ingredients, so it’s easy to cook great food,” he adds. “The Traditional Owners have used these ingredients for thousands of years, with over 5000 edible plants, there is so much for us to learn from the Aboriginal people about the amazing foods we have here in our backyard, as well as how we should be treating the land, animals and plants in a respectful manner, to make sure that we have these foods available for many more generations.”

fervor.com.au

Le Suquet à Laguiole  Laguiole, France

Ever thought anyone would return a Michelin star? A very few do and recently some chefs are jumping ship, so to say. Notably earlier this year, French chef Sébastien Bras decided he prefered to give the heavy stars back. According to Bras, who maintained three Michelin stars with his father at their restaurant Le Suquet à Laguiole in the French countryside for 18 years, he no longer wanted the pressure and the stifling expectations. He felt the stars were inhibiting, given all the requirements, forcing his restaurant to be a certain way, and not necessarily what he wanted for his patrons. The restaurant, nestled in the welcoming bosom of the family’s beautifully designed hotel, is gorgeously modern, light and airy and one of France’s most cherished culinary altars.

We applaud him! Now we’ll go eat without those Michelin prices. Thank you.

bras.fr

Gustu  La Paz, Bolivia

Claus Meyer, known for his meticulous involvement in places like Agern in Grand Central Station, NY, and Noma in Copenhagen, has a sleeper restaurant in Bolivia — with a focus on products from the Amazon. The river, not the online grocer. “It’s the biodiversity, the politics, the people, the economy – Bolivia just made sense from every perspective,” says Kamilla Seidler, once the head chef at Gustu and now an advisor. “People think the Amazon is just a green spot but it has so much potential from fish to wild meats to all the crazy plants.” The Amazon, with all its mystery, can be sustainably harvested and thus improve the lives of indigenous people and bring awareness to the real fight – protecting the lungs of the world.

Imagine this. Each morning a chef goes into the Amazon and forages plants and proteins most people outside of the area have ever heard of. This is Jungle to Table rather than the suddenly-more-quaint-sounding Farm to Table.

gustu.bo

Neolokal  Istanbul, Turkey

Istanbul is in many ways the middle mark of the world. Turkey’s most famous city stands as a beacon of Asia, or Europe, both of which it literally straddles, and leads the Middle East in pretty much all things culinary. But at Neolokal forget Turkish food as you know it, because this restaurant has restored the ancient and combined it with the modern for a gorgeous new contemporary cuisine. And that is exactly in its very simplest essence what makes it special – it’s also on the rooftop of one of the city’s best art collections right in the heart of where the city’s cosmopolis live.

“As a restaurant we consider ourselves timeless. Being timeless gives us the opportunity to  constantly renew ourselves as we continue our path and learning from our past. This past includes our traditions and  lost cultures,” says chef Maksut Askar. “We feel it is our duty to reserve it for the future and for the future generations.”

neolokal.com

Roches Armed  Armed, Morocco

At the top of the Atlas mountains, about two hours outside of Marrakesh, follow the road past the glorious Kasbah Tamadot luxury hotel, up to the village of Imlil. From there take an off-road track to the highest village in North Africa -– Armed, 2000 meters above sea level . You’ll have to walk this rest of the way, or rent a ride by mule. An excellent traditional Berber lunch is served on the roof of their Inn, the highest terrace in the village, with stunning views across and down the mountains.

The modest but pleasant hotel that houses the extraordinary restaurant

The journey exponentially increases the expectations, but the payoff is a gastronomical orgasm. The food is magnificent and perhaps the most authentic you will find anywhere in the country, sensual and unadulterated, even though the Inn of course hosts tourists.

rochesarmed.com

KOKS  Leynavatn, Faroe Islands

We all know that Michelin can sometimes have their head up their sunless place (awarding a star to a food truck somewhere — Brooklyn, LA? whatever…) and are not averse to an attention-getting, guidebook-selling gimmick, but there’s nothing gimmicky about giving one to a restaurant in the Faroe Islands in the far north Atlantic. You have to mean that one. And in mid February 2019, they got a second star, becoming only one of 10 Nordic restaurants to be awarded two Michelin stars.

KOKS, Michelin recipient in 2017, in that insanely exciting Nordic tradition of sweeping sea beds and crannies in mountains for ingredients, then producing breathtaking culinary art with them, is a revelation. 27-year-old Faroese chef Poul Andrias Ziska concentrates on traditional Faroese dishes, local produce and techniques of drying, fermenting, salting and smoking, but reimagines it all with modern possibilities and innovative combinations. The tasting menu, at appx. $215US, is worth crossing the world for.

“Our aim is to create the ultimate dining experience, strongly influenced by our deep-rooted Faroese traditions and the remarkable local produce found at our doorstep. This is our strength, and often our job is simply to let the extraordinary produce speak for itself,” says  Ziska, who got the Young Chef Award from Michelin this year too.

koks.fo

Andres Carne de Reyes  Chia, Colombia ...hobar

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