For 2016 I limited my Wish List to the United States and hit 5 out 10, a pretty good ratio with great results. I’m bummed that I missed Matt Lightner’s latest project, Ninebark, in Napa, California, as it closed at the end of the summer. Instead, I will have to look forward to his next endeavor wherever and whenever that comes to fruition. He’s too good of a chef to be out of the game for long, and I suspect that this next venture will be sensational! That was the case for John and Karen Shields, who took their time after leaving the legendary Town House several years ago. Resurfacing in Chicago, my meal at Smyth was absolutely worth the wait.
For 2017 I am resuming an international approach. Japan and Australia remain as long-desired destinations with plenty of restaurants, but for now, at least, they also remain out of my likely reach for 2017 and so will remain out of this list. Since I devoted last to the United States, I’m leaving this list for Europe and the Americas. Here then are the restaurants that I most want to try for the first time!
- Enigma – Barcelona, Spain – I had a reservation for this past November, but it was not yet ready and the reservation had to be canceled. Albert Adria is my idol as a chef (along with his brother, Ferran) and as a restaurateur. This restaurant promises the creativity that the brothers have been so well known for in a much more ambitious space than Albert’s previous iteration at 41º. Now, I just need to get back to Barcelona!
- Noma Mexico – Tulum, Mexico – I’ve been to Noma and I’ve been to Mexico, but this combination of the two promises to be unique and special combining many of the finest attributes of a favorite chef/restaurant and a favorite cuisine. Fortunately, i have my table and am awaiting this with great anticipation.
- Mirazur – Menton, France – The cuisine of Argentinian-born chef Mauro Colagreco has intrigued me for some time and may be in reach for me this year. I certainly hope so!
- Central – Lima, Peru – I’ve tasted and enjoyed chef Virgilio Martinez’ beautiful, delicious and unique cooking a number of times in a number of places, but not yet at his flagship. That needs to happen!
- Faviken – Jarpen, Sweden – Will this finally be the year?
- Hotel Carlota – Mexico City, Mexico – The kitchen is run by a couple of very talented Pujol alumni. I will have one night in Mexico City this spring and this will be my destination.
- Hartwood – Tulum, Mexico – I’ve been wanting to dine here since I first met chef Eric Werner at Cook It Raw in Charleston then again at Madrid Fusión.
- Dinner by Heston Blumenthal – London, England – My trip to London this year really whet my appetite to return to this lovely city. This was a big one that I missed on that trip.
- Relae – Copenhagen, Denmark – I’m way overdue for a return to this culinary capitol and Relae tops a long list of restaurants there for me to try for the first time.
- Mikla – Istanbul, Turkey – Unfortunately, the way the world is headed, it is looking more and more doubtful that I will be able to get here in a reasonable time frame. While that sucks for me, it is of greater concern for the world at large, that places like this are becoming more difficult or impossible to get to thanks to geopolitical issues.