Sometimes there is more to a restaurant than the food. Whilst the the real test is in the taste, the entire experience is important – and some of the most frequently-cited ‘best’ restaurants have drab decor and little atmosphere. These are not they. Get out your bucket list and jot down these eight eateries – for they are our best in Europe.
Il Ristorante Estivo, Puglia, Italy
This hotel restaurant in Puglia, Italy, is something really special. Naturally lit by the aquamarine reflection from the waters below, the summer cavern (open between Easter and October) has been the scene of many a romantic moment since the local nobility held banquets there in the 1700s.
The Jane, Antwerp, Belgium
Built in a former military hospital/chapel, The Jane has managed to transform an imposing space into a trendy temple of food. The former altar has been replaced by an open-plan kitchen, devoted to the preparation of good food from quality produce. A masterful mixture of sophistication and simplicity, enhanced by rich flavours is served across the menu, and the upper room bar serves some of the finest Belgian beers you can buy.
Snow Village Restaurant, Lainio Village, Finland
It may not be Michelin-starred, but for dining experiences, Lainio’s snow village restaurant is second to none. With Lappish delicacies and a warming three-course meal eaten in these truly extraordinary surroundings, you can enjoy reindeer, arctic char and forest mushrooms alike in temperatures that never get above -2 degrees celsius.
La Tour d’Argent, Paris, France
This Michelin-starred historic french restaurant is classic dining at its best. Unrivalled views, utter sophistication and a pressed duck special that is ranked among the best game dishes in the world combine to make this an unmissable experience.
Le Panoramic, Chamonix, France
One of the best places to bask in the view of Mont-Blanc, Le Panoramic is situated on the summit of Brévent and serves Savoyarde food as well as pasta, soup, steak and even foie gras. But the view is the real reason for trekking up the mountain – it is breathtaking, sweeping and – as the name itself attests – panoramic in the extreme.
Asea Japanese Restaurant, Santorini, Greece
A Japanese restaurant beating out the local Greek cuisine may seem odd, but bear with us. The views of the sea are incredible, and the menu takes influence from this expanse of ocean, using the freshest, locally sourced ingredients to give Asian cuisine a Mediterranean twist. Not that you’ll notice the food with those views as a dining companion…
SUSHISAMBA London, Britain
Located on the 38th and 39th floors at 110 Bishopsgate, SUSHISAMBA delivers a unique blend of Japanese, Brazilian and Peruvian cuisine, culture, music and striking design. The restaurant features the highest outdoor dining terrace in Europe, and because of these unparalleled views of the city, you’d be hard pushed to find a better spot for late night dining.
Tuğra Restaurant, Istanbul, Turkey
With rich Ottoman décor and a breath-taking backdrop, Tuğra takes inspiration for its menu from recipes recorded in the archives of historic sites such as Topkapı Palace. Surrounded by stylised architecture and natural beauty, it’s almost like stepping back in time – a dining experience unlike any other.
Originally published in: Genteleman’s Journal