Inside the World’s Best Restaurant

By Abi King | Europe

May 25

 (Abigail King)

The world’s best restaurant – that’s how it was billed. Not just by the Costa Brava Tourist Board, who invited me there, but the prestigious S.Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurant Award went to El Bulli no less than a record five times.

At first the cynic in me stirred. After all, who decides what’s best? With something so subjective, how can one restaurant possibly be declared as the best in the world?

Then I stopped for a moment and had a word with myself.

Holy guacamole. I was going inside the world’s best restaurant. And even if, technically, to my picky scientific brain, I couldn’t prove it was going to be the best, even I couId believe it was going to be pretty damn good.

Inside The World’s Best Restaurant – El Bulli

 (Abigail King)On a rough and windswept day, with the sun showing about as much loyalty to the ground as a footballer shows to fidelity, we arrived.

El Bulli sits on the edge of a wild cove in Spain’s Costa Brava. One flanked by gorse bushes and carpeted with sand, with the kind of untamed nature would suit the opening scenes of an Agatha Christie murder mystery.

The sign, simple and slightly rusted, read El Bulli. No glittering glass or concrete high rise. No queues of limousines.

In fact, precious little sign of life at all.

In our enthusiasm, we’d arrived a little early. Passing by the picture of a bulldog (the inspiration for the name: El Bulli has nothing to do with bull-fighting), we went in.

“Managing the list is the most stressful part,” said Pol Perello, El Bulli’s head waiter and director of communications. He’s tall and relaxed, standing in a white-washed hallway that could double as an entrance hall in many of Spain’s houses.

His eyebrows tighten. “We have 15 tables every night, with 45 chefs, 26 waiters and a different menu on each table. We serve 48 – 55 courses…”

 (Abigail King)I glance around the homely hallway.

“…and we have over 2 million applications each year for a table.”

Eight thousand places. Two million applicants. “So how do you decide who gets a place?”

For a second, I feel guilty. Pol blushes into silence and the questions move on.

I’m not sure what I’d expected, but given El Bulli’s reputation for molecular gastronomy and the controversy surrounding their “scientific” approach to food, I’d probably imagined test tubes and chrome, not green moss and stone.

Then we enter the kitchen and meet the man himself: Ferran Adria, the head chef.

To be continued. Inside the kitchens in the world’s best restaurant.

Then finally: Interview with the Best Chef in the World


About the Author

Abigail King is a writer and photographer who swapped a career as a doctor for a life on the road. Now published by Lonely Planet, the BBC, CNN, National Geographic Traveler & more, she feels most at home experimenting here: covering unusual journeys, thoughtful travel and luxury on

Angel Rodriguez May 26, 2011

i want to hear the rest of the story :D

Arantxa May 27, 2011

You are so cruel! I’m dying read more

jade May 27, 2011

oohhh,, I want to know!!

ayngelina May 28, 2011

If I had to pick I would choose it as the best restaurant in the world, but don”t leave us hanging!

oooh the suspense!

Abi King May 29, 2011

What a tease I am! Cooking up (ho ho) the next instalment now…

Fiona May 30, 2011

More more more! I went to his “other” restaurant near Seville (full 24-course tasting menu – 120 euros – for research, on expenses) and was blown away by the creativity, presentation, service. Can’t wait to hear what your impressions of the behind-the-scenes. Don’t keep us waiting too long, Abi…

    Abi King June 1, 2011

    Oh – now I’m very jealous!

Henry Williams August 8, 2011

good footballer reference lol

Ahmed Naween January 20, 2013

How about the Maldives, The Under Water Restaurant at Conrad Maldives Rangali Sure you will like it Abi

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