Spotlight

Dining Destinations to Watch in 2011

Sure, you know about Portland and Paris. We uncovered the world's best new food destinations.

(Cephas Picture Library/Alamy)

Marseille, France

The French are notoriously proud of their cuisine, so it's extra surprising that a new crop of young, ambitious chefs is ignoring French tradition and looking outward. Drawing from the melting pot that is Marseille, chefs are combining top-level French techniques (such as precision knife work) with influences from their neighboring Mediterranean and North African countries (richly aromatic spices). The result is a cuisine as unique as the city that inspired it.

Bistrot d'Edouard At this year-old restaurant, the city's cultural mix is evident in dishes like vermicelli cooked in squid ink and fish broth, garnished with grilled squid and fromage-blanc aioli. Tapas from $7, 150 rue Jean Mermoz, 011-33/4-91-71-16-52.

Cafe Populaire Celebrating the Marseille's mishmash of Mediterranean tastes, Populaire serves up dishes like fried chick-pea flour squares with sardines, grilled squid, and mesclun. 110 rue Paradis, 011-33/4-91-02-53-96.

La Virgule Chef Lionel Levy, whose Une Table au Sud earned a Michelin star a few years ago, opened this small spot next door, where the bistro-meets-ethnic menu (think smoked duck breast served with hummus and sesame oil) is drawing nightly crowds. Entrees from $12, lavirgule.marseille.free.fr.

Wales

Even terrific hotel restaurants get overshadowed by the hotel itself (quick: name the restaurant at the Ritz Paris). In Wales, the opposite holds. The culinary experience is paramount. To wit, the profusion of "restaurants with rooms," where the overnight digs are mostly a convenience for foodies who trek to these often remote spots. Some of the restaurants come with Michelin stars, but they still give off the same cozy, come-on-in vibe that pervades Wales—with friendly prices to match.

The Crown at Whitebrook Working here among five lush, green acres in the Wye Valley, head chef James Sommerin earned his Michelin star with dishes like loin of rabbit with asparagus and wild-mushroom mousse served with a smoked butternut squash puree. Tasting menu from $43, crownatwhitebrook.co.uk.

Tyddyn Llan Chef-owner Brian Webb was awarded a Michelin star last year for the creations coming out of this rambling stone cottage in North Wales. Webb's constantly evolving menu features creations like roast pigeon with Savoy cabbage and foie gras. Tasting menu from $45, tyddynllan.co.uk.

The Chef's Room, Fish & Cookery School Wales's food obsession goes beyond restaurants, too. Founded by Michelin-starred chef Franco Taruschio and food writer  Lindy Wildsmith, the Chef's Room hosts guests chefs like Shaun Hill (who earned his own Michelin star at Wales's The Walnut Tree), who offer hands-on instruction. Classes, including lunch and wine, from $81, thechefsroom.co.uk.

Cooking with Angela Gray The cooking school at Llanerch Vineyard launched last April, and includes everything from simple bread-baking classes to five-day cooking courses. Guests are also treated to wine tastings and vineyard tours. Classes from $80, angelagray.co.uk.

Foxhunter Want to be even closer to the source? During the new foraging excursions at the Foxhunter, in Nantyderry, guests look for wild berries, mushrooms, and spinach, and then cook with their finds under the instruction of the restaurant's head chef. Foraging classes from about $100, thefoxhunter.com.

Los Angeles, California

In L.A., it's not only the D-list actors who get their 15 minutes of fame. The difference with the city's trendy new "pop-up" restaurants is that they're designed to fade fast, because half the fun is catching them before they're gone. You can find pop-up outfits featuring Californian-American, Italian, Japanese, and more, but they all require some Web savvy (and knowledge of Twitter) to suss out the newest outpost.

LudoBites Founder and superstar chef Ludovic LeFebvre refers to his creation as a "touring restaurant." Much like a band promoting its latest album, LudoBites moves from location to location (and "shows" sell out long in advance). Instead of hit songs, there are hit dishes, like fried chicken bites and "squid noodles" (sliced calamari with black radish, black grapes, bean sprouts, and raw prawns). Entrees from $10, ludobites.com.

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