Hot Tables and Cool Success Stories

Published in Gourmet Live 09.12.12
We're celebrating restaurants with top chefs' ultimate "bucket list" dining spots, the story behind some famous signature dishes, a Q&A with superchef José Andrés, and more—no reservations required
Hot Tables and Cool Success Stories

Vienna's iconic Steirereck, also pictured on this week's cover, is chef Michael Tusk's pick for his ultimate must-try-before-you-die dining experience, featured in our story on top chefs' "bucket list" restaurants.

Fall is high season for restaurant openings, and we're finding temptation at every turn: Here in New York, Harold Dieterle and Alicia Nosenzo of Perilla and Kin Shop have plans to go Euro this time at a new place called the Marrow. In Chicago, we're hungry for Stephanie Izard's Little Goat. And Serendipity (a Chris DeBarr venture, no relation to the Big Apple tourist magnet) sounds like just what NOLA needs after Hurricane Isaac's recent visit. In Paris, there are haute expectations for Anne-Sophie Pic's La Dame de Pic, a stone's throw from the Louvre. Pic arrives in town toting three Michelin stars (she is France's only female chef with that credential today) from Maison Pic south of Lyon. Happily, the list goes on in restaurant capitals across the globe.

With chefs and magical meals on our minds, we begin our annual Restaurant Issue by checking in with René Redzepi, Daniel Humm, and David Myers, among others, for their dream dining spots—the restaurant at the top of each chef's "bucket list" of places to dine before ascending to that great kitchen in the sky. When you read about these international eateries—some humble, others Michelin-starry—you may be inspired to book a table sooner rather than later.

José Andrés—of Washington's Jaleo, Oyamel, Minibar, and beyond—feels almost like family around here, having been a contest judge for our sibling site Epicurious' Healthy Lunchtime Challenge (the young winners Andrés helped select all attended the first-ever Kids' State Dinner at the White House a few weeks ago). But in conducting a 10 Questions for… interview with Andrés about his thriving restaurant career, we also learned a lot we didn't yet know about him, including his Barcelona backstory, what he's got cooking at Harvard, and his personal formula for success. Andrés was key in kicking off America's love affair with tapas and small plates, having opened the groundbreaking Jaleo 20 years ago at the age of 23, but he isn't resting on his laurels, as his avant-garde tasting menus at Minibar demonstrate.

Dining out in recent decades, it's been hard to miss the "signature dish" phenomenon: Nobu's Black Cod with Miso, Momofuku Milk Bar's Crack Pie, and Eleven Madison Park's Muscovy Duck, for example. Frequently the bait that draws diners in the door of a much-touted restaurant, these dishes often seem destined for menu immortality. In The Signature Dish, restaurant critics, consultants, and chefs discuss the impact of these classics on the legacy of their creators. To see photos and recipes for Thomas Keller's Oysters and Pearls, Wolfgang Puck's Pizza with Smoked Salmon and Caviar, and five more signature dishes, browse our Web-exclusive slideshow.

Of course there's more to eating out than what goes on our plates, and Danny Meyer's flagship restaurant, New York City's Union Square Cafe, is as well known for its "enlightened hospitality" as for its signature dishes such as Grilled Lamb Chops Scotta Dita. In this issue, we revisit Bruce Feiler's James Beard Award–winning 2002 account of how, while working for three weeks at this landmark restaurant, he not only learned how to succeed at service but also gained an "entire philosophy of life."

What are the top dining destinations on your bucket list? Let us know via Twitter or Facebook, drop us a line, or post a comment on our blog. For more tasty bites, sign up for our weekly newsletter to get convenient access to our most-read blog posts, editors' favorite recipes, and exclusive reader offers.

Happy dining!

The editors of Gourmet Live

Subscribe to Gourmet