Though I am limiting this list to three for the month, it may be at the end of the year that more than three restaurants from January make my top ten list for the year. As good as they were, Paul Bocuse, Los Asturianos, Casa Lucio, Principe de Viana and Max London's did not make the cut.
- Senzone - Madrid. Andoni Luis Aduriz disciple, Paco Morales, hit a home run, in this his first restaurant. The small 20 seat restaurant puts out inspired food that is sensual, subtle and delicious. Morales' wife, Ruth, the former sommelier at Mugaritz, does a great job in the same capacity here. This meal is an early favorite for meal of the year. I realize that it is only January, but it will be hard to beat.
- Kabuki Wellington- Madrid. While Spain has a huge tradition of eating seafood, eating it raw is a relatively recent phenomenon. That a Spanish sushi chef, Ricardo Sanz, who spent four years learning the art from a Japanese master, would be so succesful at incorporating his Spanish touch to the Japanese art, is not an intuitive idea. Nevertheless, his sushi is some of the most original and delicious that I have ever had.
- La Mere Brazier - Lyon. How bad could dining with Thomas Keller, Daniel Boulud, Jerome Bocuse and Alain Sailhac amongst others be? Though the star power in the small dining room was intensely bright, the real star of the evening was the food on the plate. Chef Mathieu Viannay does a wonderful job of brightening classic Lyonnais cuisine and balancing flavors. The generous shavings of Perigord black truffles didn't hurt either.
I can't imagine any of these meals not making my top 10 of 2009. I will be writing on them in more detail in the near future.