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World's best modern/molecular restaurants


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I don't think there's a clear "MG" classification, at least not when it comes to several restaurants that offer MG experiences within larger operations. Cafe Atlantico, for example, is a large, three-story restaurant serving mostly a Latin-influenced menu. Within that operation is the 6-seat Minibar. To me that's similar to a large hotel restaurant offering a molecular tasting menu to a subset of customers each night. Most people think of Sean Brock as an MG practitioner, yet the McCrady's menu is pretty normal-seeming, with MG touches here and there and a tasting menu that seems to have more of those touches than the regular menu -- but overall it's all pretty low key. The universe of chefs practicing this sort of cooking at a high level is pretty small. Some have restaurants dedicated to it. Others do it within larger operations.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Os is a molecular restaurant three nights a week, if you order the tasting menu.

More important, I think, is the model that they've set up that allows them to do it: first, the Westin is a business hotel that's full Sunday night through Thursday afternoon, then empties out. They do a robust banquet business, which, when done properly, is much more profitable than a restaurant, and that supports the entire F&B operation. Second, Kleinman has created a very approachable molecular menu using the standard three-course-plus-dessert structure, with very few exotic ingredients. This encourages people to try the menu without abandoning their preconceptions about what a dinner should be -- a hurdle that (I think) limits the appeal of a place like Alinea. It also contains labor and food costs.

Dave Scantland
Executive director
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Eat more chicken skin.

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I think also there's an accidental aspect to a lot of what we've referred to as "new paradigm" restaurants, ranging from the Momofukus to a place like O's. Chef Kleinman told us at one point something like, "We added the molecular menu as something fun to do on the side, but it has become the focal point of the restaurant."

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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and that's why I asked the question - their website doesn't give the menu, they simply refer to their certain days MG tasting menu.  And that's how Niche does it - they offer an MG influenced tasting menu but the rest of the menu is not MG.  So you would classify O's as MG then?

I was not aware that Niche offers a "m.g."-minded menu on certain days. Clearly, I did not gone such a day.

“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)


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  • 2 weeks later...

Ive been cooking professionally for the past 7 years or so, at some great places, and some not so great places. But I have never worked at one of the top tier restaurants named in this thread(i have eaten at many though). And its amazing to see how techniques have evolved even in the short time ive been cooking. I would say that a great deal of the mid level restaurants(think 1 michelin star) use techniques pioneered by those aforementioned restaurants. Sous vide? Gellan gum? versawhip? liquid nitrogen? These things are becoming as ubiquitous as corn starch slurries and braising. So what really defines a molecular restaurant? Does one fluid gel on the menu make a restaurant avant guard? how many of the hot techy restaurants out these really pioneer new techniques? I think once you can answer that question can you really find out the best modern/molecular restaurants.

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  • 1 year later...

I would petition to take off minibar. It's a unique experience, but it is nowhere near that of the top restaurants in the country. Cramped bar stools, bad service with waiters bumping into you, and a rushed meal in general.

Other than that, I think the list looks pretty comprehensive. Now I just need to get out to all of them.

Edmund Mokhtarian

Food and Wine Blogger


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  • 1 month later...

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