Culi­nary clas­sics

From nose-to-tail din­ing in Lon­don to a Naples pizza joint, these restau­rants are not to be missed

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Front Page - TOM PARKER-BOWLES

STARS, dis­pensed by Miche­lin and re­view­ers, are not the only way to rank restau­rants. An elite group of clas­sic din­ing spots has sur­vived the twists and turns of fash­ion, seen gen­er­a­tions come and go, and de­fied def­i­ni­tion. When you’re eat­ing your way around the globe, save some room for a meal at one of these des­ti­na­tions.

CONTRAMAR, MEX­ICO CITY

Fish is at the heart of Contramar, spank­ing fresh, piled high on tacos, mar­i­nated in lime juice and smoth­ered in chilli. Oc­to­pus tostadas mix crisp crunch with cephalo­pod so soft and sweet it brings a tear of greedy joy to the eye. The pescado a la talla, a whole fish grilled with red and green salsa, is the sort of dish that should be placed on a pedestal and wor­shipped as a god. More: Calle Durango 200, near Plaza Ci­beles, Colo­nia Roma, Cuauhte­moc, Mex­ico City, Mex­ico; contramar.com.mx.

TET­SUYA’S, SYDNEY

Tet­suya Wakuda mixes clas­si­cal French and Ja­panese tech­niques and in­gre­di­ents, fol­low­ing the sea­sons yet never en­slaved by them. Each mouth­ful zings with flavour, and each tiny piece of silken sea urchin or sea cu­cum­ber makes per­fect culi­nary sense. This is food to wake the senses and turn on the taste­buds. It may be Miche­lin-starred haute cui­sine, but be­ing in Sydney it’s also a place to talk, drink and share the plea­sures of the ta­ble. More: tet­suyas.com.

VIC­TO­RIA SEAFOOD, HONG KONG

OK, there’s not too much to love about the gar­ish, over-lit room poised half­way up a Hong Kong tower. But for­get your sur­round­ings, for this ex­pe­ri­ence is all about clas­sic Can­tonese food. As the name sug­gests, it’s all things piscine that make Vic­to­ria Seafood a clas­sic. Don’t for­get to or­der the freshly steamed flower crabs in Chi­nese yel­low wine and chicken oil — silken and se­duc­tive, they’re pos­si­bly the finest thing to pass your lips in this Ti­tan of culi­nary cap­i­tals. More: Citic Tower, Fifth Floor, 1 Tim Mei Av­enue, Ad­mi­ralty, Hong Kong.

LE GAVROCHE, LON­DON

The Gavver is un­moved by pass­ing fan­cies and tran­sient trends, in­stead con­cen­trat­ing on flaw­less ser­vice and high-end Gal­lic cui­sine that still daz­zles and de­lights. There might be a lit­tle less but­ter and cream in the sauces than when culi­nary le­gends Al­bert and Michel Roux ran the joint, but un­der Michel Roux Jr it’s still some of the finest cook­ing in Lon­don, from the cheese-drenched bliss of souf­fle su­issesse, a true Gavroche clas­sic, to Le Cane­ton Gavroche, a whole duck com­plete with bowls of del­i­cate con­somme and three dif­fer­ent sauces. More: le-gavroche.co.uk.

NOMA, COPEN­HAGEN

Too of­ten, restau­rants such as Rene Redzepi’s Noma are drowned in a mael­strom of their own hype. But de­spite all its ac­co­lades, the at­mos­phere is laid-back and un­pre­ten­tious. And the food? Ex­cit­ing, in­no­va­tive and down­right de­lec­ta­ble. Live prawns, hauled from the fjords hours be­fore; beef tartare spiked with wood sor­rel; ed­i­ble soil and for­aged treats. Redzepi trained all over the world, yet Noma rep­re­sents the very quin­tes­sence of its Dan­ish ter­roir. More: noma.dk.

DA MICHELE, NAPLES

Purists will ar­gue for years about ex­actly where the finest pizza can be found, but true Neapoli­tan pizza per­fec­tion is easy to sniff out. Just fol­low your nose to Da Michele in the wind­ing back­streets of Naples. The menu is short to the point of be­ing curt — margherita or mari­nara, in three sizes. Tomato sauce is freshly made and spread thin, the moz­zarella dot­ted in molten, alabaster pools. The crust is the true star: a nar­row, puffed-up rim, speck­led with black blis­ters. There’s a slight crack as you bite, then a won­der­fully dense chew. More: damichele.net.

ST JOHN, LON­DON

The res­tau­rant that proved there was more to British food than soggy veg­eta­bles, jel­lied eels and deep-fried Mars bars opened 18 years ago, and the pared-back prose of its menu matches the cool, clean, white walls of its Smith­field space. No cut or or­gan is over­looked at St John, the home of British nose-to-tail eat­ing. Bone mar­row, baked un­til wob­bling, is slathered on sour­dough toast, anointed with good salt and eaten with a mouth­ful of sharply dressed pars­ley salad. Lamb’s tongue comes with but­ter beans and green sauce, ox heart with horse­rad­ish. This is a place for bon­homie, and food that con­tin­ues to in­spire. More: stjohn­restau­rant.com.

JOE’S STONE CRAB, MIAMI

Joe’s is open only from midOc­to­ber un­til mid-May, when the famed stone crabs are in sea­son and the crowds flock to this leg­endary Miami Beach joint. Be pre­pared to wait, as there’s no book­ing. Joe’s has

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