Fine food and fine dining when travelling, who can resist?
The lean team have extensive experience having traipsed around the world over 50 countries, up to 150 cities (towns & villages) and eaten thousands of meals from budget street food to world class fine dining. It is not easy to come up with a top 100, least to say a top 3 best value dining experience. After much debate and contention, taking into consideration quality, cost and ambience, we finally came up with the top 3. We'd love to hear from you on this list or any other you feel is as, or more deserving.
Best value is such a relative term but whatever your definition of it is, no true food and wine buff will deny the apt application of the term in the list below.
You do get better value in fine dining if you opt for lunch menus, most of the time. So here is a list of absolutely fantastic, great value lunch menus “worth the trip alone” restaurants to save up for!
Ragusa, Sicily, Italy: Duomo - 2 Michelin Star
Lunch Menu: €45 (£40) - 3 courses with two large, 2 small amuse bouche and petit fours. €59 (£50) – Lunch menu with 2 glasses of wine.
The skill of the kitchen team is evident in the expertly crafted dishes, using local Sicilian ingredients, which are refined, inspired and very original reflecting the local cuisines. Bread from their own bakery, taste so good that you have to visit their bakery after, just to buy some in order to prolong the meal. Total of 8 awe inspiring courses floated through our mouths leaving us spent with delight. Another gem to add to this jewellery box, is that you get to add €1 for a 3rd glass of wine!!!
Most definitely worth a trip, just to have lunch here. Without doubt, one of the best value AND best meals we've experienced. And without hesitation, makes the "must return" list, even though there are enough fantastic restaurants out there to try to last a lifetime.
Chagny, Alsace, France: Maison Lameloise – 3 Michelin Stars
Lunch Menu: €82 (£70) – 3 courses with four amuse bouche and petit fours
The superlative skill of the kitchen team shines through clearly at this well deserved 3 Michelin star restaurant. After much thought, the only simple way to describe this momentous culinary experience is “exemplary ingredients in exceptional dishes”. The different and delectable dishes kept coming and each dish (all 8 of them) was greeted with some form of adoration, may it be for skill, presentation, smell and/or taste. To heighten the experience, they naturally have a great Burgundy wine selection but the gold nugget is that they have a good number of half-bottle options available for those having to drive to this little hide-out of a village…or want to give both the whites and reds a go! "I'll be back!" echos in the mind, walking out of the immaculate restaurant, basking in the afterglow of a hugely successful culinary exploit.
Singapore: Rhubarb – 1 Michelin Star
Lunch Menu: S$48++ (£26) - 3 courses with amuse bouche and petit fours
Frankly speaking, it is the price that was the first attraction, but then you get dishes with distinct flavours that are so carefully prepared and to such consistently high standards. Food is imaginative and we particularly enjoyed the use of the oyster leaf (mertensia maritime) quickly becoming their signature ingredient. It is a pleasure watching the good kitchen dynamics through the open kitchen/dining format and personalized service with occasional interaction from the Head chef himself. Not necessary a restaurant you'll make a special trip to Singapore for, but a MUST if you are already there.
PS: Yes, we have tried the world's cheapest Michelin star restaurant (Soya Chicken Noodles) in Singapore.
IN THE RUNNING:
Fontjoncouse, Languedoc-Roussillon, France: Gilles Goujon (GG) Auberge du Vieux Puits – 3 Michelin Stars
Lunch Menu: €115 (£100) – 3 courses with two amuse bouche and petit fours
For great value meals, this 3-star restaurant needs a mention in some form or another. It was first visited in 2014 and we were so dumbfounded by the price and food that it was held on the arbitrary “best restaurants of all times” pedestal for many years to come, next to Les Jardin de Sens, Montpellier, in their heydays.
The amuse bouche “tree” still gives the drop jaw effect to this day. Culinary wizardry is a good description as one is in awe of the “trickery” of what appears to be, is not. Food presentations uses alchemy to shape, sculpture, form and transform ingredients, sauces and tastes. The signature amuse bouche of oyster in a ball of clear blown sugar, filled with intense smoke aroma released after you break the sphere, is just the beginning. Fontjoncouse is out of the way but with what the Languedoc area has to offer, it is worth planning a trip there just to have lunch at GG's.