Chez Dominique heads up the fine-dining charts
Helsinki restaurant now ranked 21st in the world's top eating experiences
Some years ago both Silvio Berlusconi and Jacques Chirac put the cat among the pigeons with less than complimentary remarks about Finnish cuisine, but at least the culinary flag is being flown by Helsinki’s only 2-star Michelin restaurant, Chez Dominique.
The latest feather in the cap of chef de cuisine Hans Välimäki came on Tuesday with the announcement of this year’s “San Pellegrino World's 50 Best Restaurants” as published in the magazine Restaurant.
The eatery on Rikhardinkatu made its first entry in the World's Best list at No. 39 in 2006.
It had then hovered in the lower 30s for two years, but this time around it had zoomed up the rankings to 21st, one of the biggest "climbers" in the Top 50.
The restaurant was opened in 1998, winning a first Michelin star three years later. A second star followed in 2003.
The San Pellegrino list, now in its eighth year, is variously described as “a bit of fun” or “hugely important” or “utterly stupid”.
It all rather depends on whom one asks, and on their location - European restaurants do tend to dominate at the expense of Asian and other areas - but in any event it is judged by “a worldwide poll of 806 chefs, critics, and other industry experts”, so there is no earthly harm in being on it, and particularly when one is moving up rather than down the rankings.
As always with these surveys, it is as much who is “out” that draws the attention, and one prominent name missing this year is that of the F-word celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay.
Ramsay's 3-star restaurant on Royal Hospital Road in South London (in fact the only establishment in the UK capital to have three Michelin stars) does not figure even in the Top 100 eating experiences, after placing 13th last year.
Top spot for the fourth year in a row goes to the legendary - not least for the extraordinary difficulty involved in getting a table - ElBulli in the small Spanish town of Roses on the Costa Brava.
Also unchanged is the runner-up, The Fat Duck, located in Bray, Berkshire, in the U.K.
The Scandinavians can hold their heads up high.
At a lofty No.3 is the Copenhagen restaurant Noma, which also wins this year’s coveted "Chef's Choice Award" - from a separate poll of the chefs of all 50 restaurants on the new list.
There are also two Swedish restaurants making the 2009 Top 50, albeit lower down the pecking order than Chez Dominique.
Previously in HS International Edition:
No change in Michelin stars, but elite Helsinki eateries see decline in business customers (17.3.2009)
ElBulli (since few of us are ever likely to eat there)
San Pellegrino World´s 50 Best Restaurants 2009