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Trevi Fountain, Rome
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Worldwide //  Europe
335 Restaurants

From Andrew Harper:

Even in an age of globalization, the great cities of Europe are more than mere tourist destinations; they are integral to American history and culture. Many of us fall hopelessly in love with the street market on the Rue de Buci, Sunday strolls through the Jardins des Luxembourg and the incomparable view upstream from the Pont des Arts. But for others, it is the shimmer on the surface of the Venetian lagoon, or the wisteria-draped townhouses of London’s Georgian squares that generate the same visceral attraction. But despite the ancient stones, time on the old continent moves at the same restless pace as elsewhere. Since the fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989, Europe has changed dramatically. Bulgaria, Romania and the Baltic States are now part of the European Union, the boundaries of which stretch from Portugal to the western edge of Russia. For the American traveler, this has brought a wealth of new opportunities. There are now luxury hotels in places as far apart as Tallinn and Dubrovnik. And Berlin itself, the Reichstag now crowned by Norman Foster’s extraordinary glass dome, has recovered its place as one of the continent’s most important and culturally vibrant cities.

- Andrew Harper

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This vintage wine shop in a chic corner of the 17th arrondissement feels almost like a film set: lacy curtains in the front window, a big zinc bar, mosaic tiles, and cornices overhead. It can be a trifle stuffy, but I enjoy the atmosphere and the seriousness of the well-heeled crowd here. The pours by the glass change weekly, but you can also purchase a bottle from the shop as long as you’re willing to swallow the €16 corkage fee (worth doing, in my opinion, as the list is impressive). The menu features well-made French comfort food such as foie gras, duckling with green peppercorns, rabbit in mustard sauce, a superb cheese tray and a fine crème brûlée.

30 bis avenue Niel (17e) Paris

Though it’s off the beaten track, young chef Bertrand Grébaut’s bistro is worth discovering for his imaginative contemporary French dishes. Grébaut trained with chef Alain Passard at L’Arpège, a background that shows up in starters such as risotto with watercress and sorrel, and main courses like cod steak in a jus de poulet with fennel bulb shavings, or succulent pork rib with radishes and carrots. Friendly service in an attractive, loft-like space and an interesting wine list make this a great choice for casual dining. Closed weekends.

80 rue de Charonne (11e) Paris US$75

I was wary of this auberge in the town 45 minutes north of Paris where Vincent van Gogh spent the last few months of his life, since I expected it to be a tourist trap. Instead, the dining room has been beautifully decorated to approximate what it may have looked like when Van Gogh was a boarder here, and the food — simple, hearty and generously served — is good. Try the pistachio-studded duck terrine, leg of lamb slow-cooked for seven hours, and chocolate mousse. Closed Mondays and Tuesdays.

52 Rue du Général de Gaulle Auvers-sur-Oise

After a successful stint in Tours, young chef Olivier Arlot took over an established restaurant (La Chancelière) in nearby Montbazon and transformed it into one of the finest in the Loire Valley. His prix-fixe menus follow the seasons, but dishes such as shrimp with avocado and grapefruit, cod in red wine sauce on black rice with girolles, and peaches and raspberries in a Vouvray foam show off his inventive style. Closed Sunday and Monday.

1 Place des Marronniers La Chancelière Montbazon

Chef Yves Camdeborde’s very popular bistro, a few steps from the Odéon in Saint-Germain-des-Prés, is first-come, first-serve on Sundays, so arrive early and be prepared to wait. Camdeborde, who founded the well-known La Régalade almost twenty years ago, is one of the great modern bistro chefs of Paris. His cooking style is at once inventive and earthy, a reflection of his roots in southwestern France. The menu here changes often but runs to dishes like octopus salad, roast rack of lamb and chicken Béarnaise. Note that a different menu is served at weekday dinners, which must be booked well in advance. 

9 Carrefour de l' Odéon (6e) Hotel Relais Saint-Germain Paris Moderate to Expensive

Chef Kolja Kleeberg presents a creative Continental menu in a gleaming setting of steel, glass and slate. Representative dishes include sea bass in miso with bok choy, lotus and licorice; and crispy suckling pig with Riesling sauerkraut, potato confit and watercress. The wine list is exceptional. Closed Sunday.

Jägerstrasse 54-55 Mitte Berlin US$125

Located in the city’s Lycabettus neighborhood, this excellent seafood restaurant  has fine views of the Acropolis, and serves one of the best catch-of-the-day menus in Athens.  Follow one of the outstanding starters — maybe Aegean shrimp sautéed in garlic, hot peppers  and olive oil; or octopus cooked in sweet wine with shredded potatoes — with grilled grouper  for two, plus a side of delicious boiled wild greens.

Fokilidou 15 Athens US$75

After a Sunday afternoon stroll around the Marais, I inevitably end up at this popular bistro featuring a simple décor, casual but correct service and an excellent chalkboard menu of seasonal French comfort-food dishes. It can be a bit noisy (the crowd is young, and the room is rather bare), but it is a bona fide neighborhood restaurant.  I enjoy dishes like the smoked garlic soup, smoked salmon or homemade country pâté to start, followed by a fine steak tartare, grilled Bigorre pork or maybe some game in season.  Note that this place is very popular, so bookings are always necessary. 

49 rue de Turenne (3e) Paris Moderate

Run by Vitor Sobral, a Portuguese food celebrity, this relaxed, friendly, good-value restaurant with large windows is perfect for a casual but delicious meal of Portuguese comfort food. Starters are made for sharing, and among those not to miss are the grilled baby clams and cod fritters, while excellent main courses include tuna with sweet potatoes. There is a wonderful selection of Portuguese cheeses.

Rua Domingos Sequeira 41C Lisbon US$50

After cooking at Lasserre for several years, talented chef Jean-Louis Nomicos opened this strikingly modern restaurant in the 16th arrondissement, and immediately began attracting a well-heeled neighborhood crowd who appreciate his inventive contemporary cooking. Nomicos is from Marseilles, and many of the dishes he serves have a touch of the south in them, including starters like baby artichokes and squid with a bergamot spiked white-wine sauce and sea urchin royale with fennel cream. His veal sweetbreads with “lemon caviar” (grains of fresh lemon) and veal chop with sage and Parmesan are delicious, and desserts are excellent, too—try the green Chartreuse soufflé. Attentive service and a dressy but relaxed atmosphere.

16 avenue Bugeaud (16e) Paris Expensive

This romantic restaurant on the Isola dei Pescatori, one of the Borromean Islands, offers a wonderful night out on Lake Maggiore from Stresa. Standout dishes include prosciutto with candied porcini mushrooms, grilled octopus with bur rata cream, and ravioli stuffed with rabbit and black olives. There is a complimentary boat service from Stresa.

Via del Marinaio, 1 Stresa VB US$70

Many of the best new tables are simple little places, a reflection of the Marseillais dislike of formality and pretension, and one of my favorites is Le Grain de Sel, located on a side street near the Vieux-Port and perfect for lunch. The chalkboard menu changes regularly, but runs to dishes such as green gazpacho with baby clams, and roast veal with polenta and anchovies. Closed Sunday and Monday.

39 Rue de la Paix Marcel Paul Marseille

Innovative chef Juan Pablo Felipe has won an enthusiastic following among adventurous Madrid diners with dishes such as Norwegian lobster with Iberian ham in parsley sauce, barbecued pigeon with corn and truffles, and a chocolate and lemon “volcano”” dessert. His sleek, contemporary restaurant is also notable for its well-spaced tables and excellent list of Spanish wines.

Avenida Pío XII 34 Hotel Aristos Madrid US$100

An enchanting 15th-century stone manor surrounded by vineyards is the setting for chef Philippe Chevrier’s extraordinary “New French” cuisine. Representative dishes include carpaccio of marinated sea bass with pickled butternut squash, star anise and Tahaa vanilla; saddle of hare with foie gras; and confit and supreme of pigeon with pearl onions and a Sarawak peppercorn reduction. Closed Sunday and Monday.

Chemin de Châteauvieux 16 Peney-Dessus Satigny US$225

For a terrific catch-ofthe- day menu in this seafood-loving city, try this casual and authentic place. Aside from superb fish from boats operating out of the port, it o#ers a spectacular setting overlooking the Mediterranean from a craggy promontory. Closed Sunday and Monday.

2 Boulevard de la Libération Marseille

At this delightful family-run restaurant, renowned chef Mara Martin serves innovative seafood dishes such as steamed sea bass with stewed apples and aged balsamic vinegar, and turbot baked in a potato crust. Begin with the celebrated pumpkin gnocchi with sage, Parmesan and white truffles. Reservations are a must.

Calle del Scaleter 2202A Venice US$110

Rather more stylish than the typical Athens taverna, this all-white restaurant  decorated with twinkling lights attracts a well-heeled international crowd and serves very  good Greek classics such as fava bean purée, stuffed grape leaves, and grilled lamb chops.  The wine list demonstrates that there is much more to Greek vineyards than the ubiquitous  Retsina. Request a terrace table when the weather is good.

Persefonis 41 Athens US$60

Montparnasse has changed significantly since “les Années Folles,” or “the Crazy Years,” of the 1920s, but you can still channel a bit of the era’s frivolity at Le Select. Of the many cafés along this famous strip, this is the best, with a nice terrace out front and booths inside where you can settle down with a glass of wine and an open sandwich made with bread from the Poilâne bakery. You certainly won’t be the only out-of-towner in the crowd, and it’s somewhat expensive, but also lots of fun.

99 boulevard du Montparnasse (6e) Paris

For a glamorous experience of vintage Parisian elegance, this white orchid-filled dining room with a small army of courtly waiters in black jackets can’t be bettered. It occupies the first floor of a refined white townhouse in the heart of the city, and a doorman in a small lift escorts you to your table. Chef Christophe Moret, who formerly cooked at Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athénée, has a superb menu of house classics such as pigeon André Malraux, which is stuffed with foie gras and wild mushrooms and roasted in vin jaune and truffle juice, and crêpes Suzette flambéed with Grand Marnier, and more recent creations, including langoustines in a ginger-lime bouillon and lobster with cep mushrooms. Young pastry chef Claire Heitzler is one of the best working in Paris right now, too, and perhaps while enjoying her pistachio shortbread with citrus fruits, you’ll be treated to this restaurant’s great show, which occurs, weather permitting, when the ceiling rolls open to offer everyone a breath of fresh air.

17 avenue Franklin Roosevelt (8e) Paris Very Expensive

The restaurant of chefs Martin Surbeck and Patricia Lackner in the heart of town is known among Zurich’s more demanding gourmets for great creative cooking. The menu changes constantly, but runs to dishes such as herbed risotto with marinated duck’s liver, and regularly changing riffs on veal, a local favorite. Closed Saturday and Sunday.

Schützengasse 5 Zurich US$110

The Moselle Valley has an abundance of fine restaurants. A standout of our trip was Rüssel’s Landhaus St. Urban in Naurath Forest, which serves contemporary German cuisine in a converted mill. Brook trout with cucumbers, sour cream, roe and “meadow herbs” tasted memorably buttery and smoky; the local Serrig chicken with spring vegetables was light and fresh; and a combination of veal, venison, white asparagus, bacon “purée,” egg yolk and lovage sauce delighted with its savory flavors. I was also impressed by the cheese cart, which contained a fine selection of raw-milk varieties.

Büdlicherbrück 1 Naurath (Wald)

Finding a restaurant in Rome on Sunday night can be a challenge, which is how I discovered this delightful spot. Reputed to be the oldest trattoria in the city, it might not be the most elegant, but the food makes it a must. Pastas are excellent, as are the lamb dishes. (Nowhere does a better take on the simple cacio e pepe with just ground pepper, butter and Pecorino cheese.) The service can be perfunctory, but come on Sunday for lunch, when you will see happy Roman families enjoying every bite.

Vicolo della Campana, 18 Rome US$55

Despite the facts that it resembles a small, mirrored railroad car and that diners sit at high stools before a communal table, this has become the toughest reservation on the Left Bank because of the superb cooking of young chef David Toutain. Working in a tiny open kitchen, he composes a new tasting menu almost daily, and the dishes reflect his culinary creativity and flawless technical skills. Expect a suite of beautiful edible miniatures such as a slow-cooked egg with new garlic cream and lemon-verbena foam; dressed crab with candied grapefruit and a rich consommé of North Sea shrimp; griddled razor shell clams, squid and zucchini in lavender foam with yuzu cream and dill flowers; and veal in black-olive tapenade with grilled shallots. Service is flawless, and it’s a good idea to order the well-chosen wine pairings. Closed Sundays and Mondays.

66 Rue Mazarine (6e) Paris US$200

This simple but cozy tavern with vaulted whitewashed dining rooms and bare wood floors is a wonderful choice in the heart of the city for anyone who wants to sample authentic and delicious Viennese comfort food. Try dishes such as rindsuppe (rich beef bouillon garnished with finely sliced pancakes), schnitzel, faschiertes (veal meatballs with mashed potatoes) and apple strudel.

Singerstrasse 28 Wien Vienna US$60

Perched on a hillside with fine views over Lake Maggiore, this rustic osteria has conspicuously charming and friendly service. Try local dishes such as lamb prosciutto, and white polenta with Gorgonzola. I finished up with a warm slice of red-fruit crostatta, the open-face jam tart made by all Italian grandmothers.

Via per Comnago, 30 Lesa US$55

After becoming one of the most famous chefs in the world with his restaurant elBulli, which is now closed, Ferran Adrià has opened this high-concept tapas bar with a cracked white tile floor and a show-biz themed décor. It is, of course, one of the hottest tickets in Barcelona right now, because the modern Spanish tapas are excellent, including tuna belly with salmon eggs and green-apple bread, grilled quail with honey and mint, and rabbit ribs with foamy garlic mayonnaise, but it’s also noisy and service can be uneven.

Avinguda Parallel 164 Barcelona US$60

On arrival, I invariably eat first in a casual Wirtshaus (tavern), such as the friendly Wirtshaus im Fraunhofer, a short stroll from the old center. The cozy room has an ornate plaster ceiling, wall-mounted antlers and well-worn wooden tables illuminated by candles. Our cheery bilingual waiter served us asparagus cream soup, followed by plates of pork cutlets with bacon-infused roasted potatoes and onion mustard, washed down with a refreshing Maibock (a strong pale lager).

Fraunhoferstrasse 9 Munich

This is a lively spot with tightly spaced tables, but as soon as your first course arrives, you’ll understand why it’s worth putting up with the raucous atmosphere of this popular Left Bank bistro. Chef Stéphane Jego’s food is delicious, and includes dishes such as baby scallops in their shells with tiny croutons and flat parsley, or fricassee of guinea hen cooked with thyme, rosemary and girolles mushrooms. Closed Sundays.

27 rue Malar (7e) Paris US$60

To be perfectly clear, the main reason to dine at Le Jules Verne is that is offers spectacular views over Paris from the city’s most famous landmark. So if you come here with tempered expectations and are prepared to pay dearly for the privilege of these magnificent panoramas, you’re likely to enjoy yourself. This restaurant is now part of the Alain Ducasse stable, which might lead you to expect some really great food. Instead, the food is generally good, but not better, and the wine list is predictably overpriced. Because of fire regulations, most of what you eat is actually prepared in a ground-floor kitchen and transferred to a service kitchen in the Eiffel Tower, so it’s best to order the €200 prix-fixe dinner, which changes from time to time, but can include lobster, foie gras terrine, turbot, Bresse chicken with cep mushrooms and two desserts. The à la carte menu is very, very expensive. Service can be problematic. In my experience, the long-running stereotype of the haughty French waiter is happily less and less true in Paris these days, but this welcome change does not seem to have registered with many of those who work here. So now that I’ve been a bit of a wet blanket, go and enjoy yourselves, and do go early, since it’s thrilling to watch the lights of Paris come on when the sun’s going down.

Avenue Gustave Eiffel (7e) Eiffel Tower Paris

Regional Bavarian cookery is enlivened by international fusion techniques at celebrity chef Alfons Schuhbeck’s remarkable restaurant. Innovative dishes run the gamut from Alpine salmon atop potato mousseline and baby spinach to grilled fillet of local ox with Tasmanian pepper, Brussels sprouts and pumpkin marzipan. Attentive service and a distinguished wine list help to justify the lofty price tag. Closed Sunday and Monday.

Platzl 6+8 Munich US$150

Arzak is arguably the finest restaurant in Spain. Our most recent meal began with superb hors d’oeuvres, the best of which was a pâté of mushrooms in a sandwich of puffed and curried rice wafers. Tiny langoustines were exquisite with a purée and kernel of corn, as were oysters mounted on rounds of potato under a veil of “cellophane” made from evaporated seawater. Sole came with broiled lemon, and a tasting portion of tender Galician beef was garnished with a chorizo- glazed potato. Closed Sundays, Mondays and most of November.

Avenida Alcalde José Elósegui 273 Donostia San Sebastián US$150

This well-run old-fashioned bistro is not only one of the best buys in town, but it’s well-known to Parisian gastronomes for an excellent selection of game dishes in season. Whether or not you come during the wild season, you’ll eat extremely well, as the traditional French dishes are skillfully prepared from first-rate produce and generously served. It’s a bit of a madhouse at lunch, so I prefer to come for dinner when it’s quieter. Mrs. Harper enjoys the Niçoise salad as a starter — it’s generously garnished with chunks of tuna, ripe tomatoes, hard-boiled eggs and black olives. I unfailingly start with whatever terrine is on the menu that day (they’re all good, but the game and wild hare terrines are exceptional). Next up, I’m game for anything: maybe wild duck in black currant sauce, venison, or partridge, but the blanquette de veau (veal stew), boeuf bourguignon, coq au vin and chicken cooked with morel mushrooms are delicious, as well. A lavish cheese tray is include in the prix-fixe menu, and desserts run to fruit tarts, oeufs à la neige, sorbet or ice cream. A wonderfully Parisian experience.

45 avenue Ledru-Rollin (12e) Paris

Expect authentic Hungarian cookery at this handsome brasserie, which opens onto a wonderful garden patio. Specialties include crispy goose garnished with slivers of red onion, and venison ragout with porcini mushrooms and potato croquettes.

Budakeszi útca 5 Budapest US$45

Located in a former fisherman’s cottage in Cagnes-sur- Mer just west of Nice, chef Jacques Maximin’s pretty, relaxed bistro serves some of the best and most reasonably priced seafood in the south of France. The menu changes according to the catch of the day, but dishes such as crayfish and artichoke salad, fritto misto of squid and anchovies, and John Dory for two à la Niçoise (cooked with tomatoes, white wine, olive oil, butter and tiny black olives) show why he has long reigned as one of the great chefs of France. Closed Mondays and Tuesdays.

96 boulevard de la Plage Cagnes-sur-Mer US$70

Located a half-hour by boat from Venice on Mazzorbo, the twin island to Burano, this charming hotel restaurant is a favorite of Venetians in search of a great meal in a setting far removed from city-center crowds. Chef Paola Budel cooks with local seafood, and produce from an on-site walled vegetable garden; menus run to dishes such as cuttlefish cooked in a broth of baby artichokes and tomatoes, spaghetti with sardines and spring onions, and roast cod in a sauce of beetroot and green apple. Open March through November.

Fondamenta Santa Caterina, 3 Isola di Mazzorbo Venice US$120

This sumptuously decorated establishment sets the bar for Cantonese food in London and has maintained a Michelin star since 2011. Terrific dim sum are always available, plus an imaginative menu that includes the likes of stir-fried spicy venison, steamed turbot and chanterelles with ginger and spring onions, and Alaskan king crab in a black bean sauce. 

17 Bruton Street London US$130.

The Palais Coburg’s gourmet restaurant serves exquisitely presented and memorably delicious cuisine, but what really stood out on a recent visit was the audacious wine pairings. The sommelier exploited the breadth of the restaurant’s cellars, matching, for example, an acidic and smoky Zierfandler (a grape found only in Austria’s Thermenregion) with a rich dish of tête de veau and liquid quail yolk topped with artichoke and shiitake mousse. Equally unforgettable was the Swiss Pinot Noir paired with a dish of dove breast, cranberry, beetroot and Savoy cabbage cream. Closed Sundays and Mondays.

Coburgbastei 4 Wien Menus, US$190 - US$240

Chefs Gilles Dupont and Thomas Byrne preside over a grand gourmet restaurant where they prepare French haute cuisine with imagination and flair. Of particular note is the superb Valais lamb in a crust of salt and spruce. Magnificent selection of wines. Closed Saturday and Sunday.

Place Pierre-Gautier 5 Cologny US$160

With a striking modern dining room of white walls, charcoal banquettes and a dark plank floor overlooking the leafy Faelledparken (Common Gardens), Geranium offers intriguing New Scandinavian cuisine. The creative menu by chef Rasmus Kofoed runs to dishes such as king crab with lemon balm and cloud berries; venison with smoked bacon, beets, mushrooms and wild herbs; and elderberry jelly for dessert. An organic vegetarian menu is also offered. Dinner served Wednesday through Saturday; lunch served Thursday through Saturday.

Per Henrik Lings Allé 4 København Menus, US$265 and US$530

For anyone who’s curious about avant-garde French haute cuisine, Pierre Gagnaire’s restaurant should not be missed. His astonishingly elaborate dishes include langoustine tartare with green mango, gooseberry mustard syrup, black radish and potato purée; and rack of lamb poached in oregano bouillon with a crust of fresh herbs accompanied by shrimp cooked in prune brandy. Closed Saturdays, Sunday lunch and Wednesday lunch.

6 rue Balzac (8e) Hotel Balzac Paris US$175

Stylish but relaxed, this popular restaurant offers an appealingly eclectic menu that ranges from falafel to shrimp with lemon risotto. Children are welcome at this family-friendly spot, and the menu features many dishes intended to appeal to a younger generation.

Gotthardstrasse 91 Andermatt

Englishman Mark Williamson launched the modern Parisian wine bar when he opened this still very popular place near the Palais-Royal in 1980. Small, convivial and stylish, it attracts a fashionable international crowd who enjoy the excellent pours by the glass and a good chalkboard menu that runs to dishes such as artichokes with marinated onions and foie gras, and pan-roasted guinea hen with girolles. A great destination after a stroll and some shopping in the Palais.

13 rue des Petits Champs (1e) Paris

This delightful, low-key café has an excellent location between the Palais Royal and the Louvre. When the weather is bad, opt for one of the tables in the open- air gallery, and when it is good, you can enjoy a wonderful show of Parisian life on the terrace out front, which overlooks a large, traffic-free square. The quality of the offerings is better than at most Paris cafés, and the waiters are polite, prompt and often English-speaking. Le Nemours has a lot of self-effacing charm, which is why it’s one of my favorite “real-people”cafés in Paris.

2 Galerie Nemours/Place Colette (1e) Paris

The restaurant at Les Etangs de Corot won a Michelin star this year for chef Rémi Chambard’s excellent contemporary French cooking. Working with seasonal, often local produce, Chambard creates dishes such as wild sea bass carpaccio with beets, apples and caviar; and sole with Swiss chard, baby onions and gnocchi. The Grand Marnier and saffron soufflé makes the perfect finale to a fine meal. Closed Mondays and Tuesdays.

55 Rue de Versailles Ville-d'Avray

A superb menu of Spanish/Continental cuisine is presented at this refined establishment that has been a gastronomic mecca for nearly 30 years. Dishes such as partridge salad with pomegranate and almond vinaigrette, and sirloin medallions with a raspberry sauce come complemented by a virtually unrivaled list of Spanish wines. Closed Sundays and most of August.

Alvarez de Baena 4 Madrid US$85

Even if you’re not staying at the hotel, the restaurant of chef Joackim Salliot is the best address for a memorable meal during a visit to Giverny. Salliot’s creativity is displayed in dishes such as grilled langoustines and squid in green tea-flavored cauliflower cream, and lamb fillet with baby leeks and pistachio oil. There is also a good-value prix-fixe lunch menu. Closed Mondays and Tuesdays.

1 rue du Milieu Giverny

Tucked away in Montmartre, this attractive restaurant with a stylish modern décor serves one of the most original menus in Paris. Chef Antoine Heerah is from the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius, and his distinctive cooking marries its culinary traditions (French, African, Chinese and Indian) to fresh French produce with intriguing results. Start with the jardinière of crunchy vegetables in a Mauritian “pesto” sauce (lemongrass, curry leaves), then choose from dishes such as steamed yellow pollock with a spicy tomato condiment or rack of lamb with masala spices and sweet potato gratin. During the summer, you can dine on one of the prettiest little terraces in Paris.

52 rue Lamarck (18e) Paris

This seafood restaurant pulls a fashionable crowd with an outstanding menu by chef-owner Anders Selmer, who previously cooked at the famous noma restaurant. Relaxed and casual, it’s an ideal place to sample dishes such as blue mussels in herbed apple cider, or fish and chips — lightly smoked cod with fried potatoes and remoulade. An excellent selection of oysters and other fresh shellfish is also available.

Flæsketorvet 100 København US$65

Beside the Mediterranean in Barceloneta, the old fishermen’s quarter of the city that has been progressively gentrified during the past 20 years, this relaxed and friendly restaurant is run by chef Xavier Pellicer, who won an outsize reputation when he was cooking at two-star ABaC. Here, he specializes in Catalan rice dishes such as the outstanding rice with baby squid and squid’s ink.

Passeig Marítim Barceloneta, 1 Barcelona

By shrewdly modernizing classic Venetian dishes and adding a few favorites from other Italian regions to the menu, the kitchen here has turned a simple dining room into one of the most popular restaurants in the off-the-beaten track Cannaregio quarter. Try the risotto with shellfish, and the superb fritto misto of shrimp, fish and vegetables.

Fondamenta de la Sensa Cannaregio 3272 Venice US$85

This cozy bistro in the residential 11th arrondissement is where you’re likely to find Paris food critics eating on their nights off. The blackboard menu changes daily, but runs to dishes such as coddled eggs with wild mushrooms, veal sweetbreads, great steaks and homemade seasonal fruit tarts. The wonderful wine list is especially strong on Côtes du Rhônes. Closed Sundays and Mondays.

18 rue Paul Bert (11e) Paris US$65

Located in an unspoiled medieval village, Bruno Cirino’s wonderful restaurant has elegant dining rooms spilling out onto a sunny terrace. The Mediterranean cuisine is essentially French, but draws on Italian, Spanish and Greek culinary traditions. Typical dishes include sea bass with baby clams, and rabbit stew with macaroni and truffles. Cirino loves cooking with the zesty lemons from nearby Menton, and his lemon tart with lemon sorbet and candied lemon peel is outstanding. Closed Mondays and Tuesdays, except in July and August.

La Turbie Alpes Maritimes US$140

Despite being off the beaten track in an outlying part of Prague, this pleasant, easygoing establishment is the city’s destination for great beer and good light meals of well-prepared Czech comfort food. The recycled factory décor of exposed brick walls and framed black-and-white photographs creates a relaxed atmosphere in which to discover beers from the Matuska brewery, served to accompany hearty dishes such as grilled sausages, rabbit terrine, or veal shoulder with homemade noodles.

Mikovcova 4 Prague US$30

Talented young Swiss chef Marco Hartmann serves excellent Mediterranean-and Asian-inspired dishes made with mostly organic produce at this stylish hotel dining room in an arty district of the city. Hartmann’s menu changes often, but dishes such as herbed tagliatelle with creamed mushrooms and Belper Knolle cheese, cod confit with grapeseed salsa and Champagne sauerkraut, and Poschiavo Valley venison in a garlic-parsley crust with red cabbage and chestnut spätzle show off his style. Closed Sunday.

Herman-Greulich-Strasse 56 Zurich US$90

With a prime location near the bustling Spice Bazaar and a wonderful view over  the Bosphorus, this busy restaurant is a great place to sample some of the kebabs that are a  classic of the southeastern Turkish kitchen. The fistikli kebab (ground lamb with pistachios)  is especially delicious.

Tahmis Caddesi Kalçin Sokak No. 17 Eminönü Istanbul US$45

Though it is off the beaten track, the stylish setting of this restaurant (in the former municipal greenhouses of Amsterdam) and its fine contemporary Continental cooking make it well worth seeking out. The menu changes daily, but runs to dishes such as eel in herb sauce and grilled North Sea sole. Closed Sundays.

Kamerlingh Onneslaan 3 Amsterdam US$60

This dressy Argentine steakhouse features delicious empanadas and succulent steaks from the pampas. The wine list is outstanding.

Carrer de València, 267 Barcelona

As long as you know that Bobosse, the blue-smocked host, is a teasing and slightly ribald character, you’ll have a wonderful time at this preserved-in-amber bistro with lace curtains and walls lined with bric-a-brac. Located in a quiet neighborhood near the Gare de Lyon, the kitchen serves a hearty and delicious encyclopedia of traditional French dishes, including homemade foie gras, finely sliced country ham, and caillettes (succulent patties of pork and Swiss chard wrapped in caul fat). Main courses include juicy veal chops with morel mushrooms, and pan-fried scallops with tagliatelle. The chocolate mousse is epic, and Bobosse is sure to propose a pour of one of my favorite postprandial tipples, Vieille Prune (an eau-de-vie distilled from plums in the Lot), which he pours into snifters from a wooden water can and flambées for a moment to release its perfume. It’s all rather theatrical, and so is Bobosse.

28 avenue Ledru-Rollin (12e) Paris

Paolo Paroli is a gracious host at this excellent osteria near the Piazza Santa Croce. The cooking is outstanding; I fondly remember dishes such as ravioli stuffed with veal and buffalo-milk ricotta, and grilled Chianina beef.

Via dei Lavatoi, 1/3R Firenze US$85

Just a short walk from the Hagia Sophia, this excellent restaurant is known  for its kebabs. Secure a streetside table and begin with a small selection of mezzes. From  among the appealing main courses, consider the outstanding grilled lamb ribs, served with  grilled tomatoes and peppers.

Divanyolu Caddesi, Ticarethane Sokak 39/41 Istanbul US$55

Smørrebrød, or open-faced sandwiches topped with a variety of delicious garnishes, are a Danish passion. Ida Davidsen is locally famous for serving the best of these quick eats. Try the smoked salmon with lungfish caviar, or maybe the “Hans Christian Andersen,” named for the famous children’s writer and piled high with liver pâté, bacon and tomatoes. This place is ideal for lunch. Lunch only; closed Saturdays and Sundays.

Store Kongensgade 70 København US$40

Located in the Louvre, the Café Marly is a nice spot for museum-goers and a pleasant place for an alfresco drink on a warm night. The quality of the cuisine is merely fine, and the service can be exasperating, but it’s worth shrugging off the occasional haughty hostess for the pleasure of the setting. I suspect that I’m in the minority in thinking that the I.M. Pei glass pyramid in the courtyard was a mistake, but it’s admittedly quite pretty when lit up at night, and this café is ultimately a very handy address.

93 rue de Rivoli (1e) Musée du Louvre Paris

This appealing contemporary restaurant is the rare Copenhagen newcomer where you can also order à la carte — perhaps dishes such as oysters with passion fruit vinaigrette, squid cooked in red wine with smoked bacon and garlic, and a delicious dessert of strawberries, marzipan and chocolate. With the tasting menus, you can elect to enjoy a different wine with each course.

Borgergade 16 Copenhagen US$200

Conveniently located in the central Eixample neighborhood, this attractive modern tapas bar takes reservations, and most of its staff speak English. Try the pan con tomate, the delicious Catalan specialty of toasted bread dressed with olive oil, crushed fresh tomato and a little garlic; sautéed baby clams; tortilla Espanola (a potato-filled omelet); and tuna belly dressed with sesame oil and soy sauce.

Muntaner 171 Barcelona US$50

If you want a sushi fix while you’re in Paris, this small, quiet bar overlooking the Seine on the Ile Saint-Louis is the place to go. It doesn’t have a lot of atmosphere, but chef Katsuo Nakamura works behind the counter with the freshest fish in Paris, and most of the other clients are likely to be Japanese. Pricey, but so is the finest fish, and the Zen calm here makes it a pleasant place for lunch during a wander around the islands (Ile de la Cité and the Ile Saint-Louis). Reservations are essential.

4 quai d’Orléans (4e) Paris

Chef Bruno Doucet continues to offer the hearty, southwest France-inspired dishes that made the original La Régalade on the Left Bank so popular, but he’s a bit more imaginative at this new Right Bank outpost. Excellent food and a good-value prix-fixe menu make up for the plain décor and occasionally spotty service. My last meal here was very satisfying: chicken-broth-and-coconut-milk soup with grilled shrimp and spaghettini, free-range pork belly on a bed of lentils, and cod steak on a bed of wilted spinach. Dessert was a remarkable Breton sablé (shortbread) with sliced strawberries and creamy mascarpone. This is a smart choice if you’re in the market for a low-key but still memorably gastronomic meal. Just make sure to reconfirm your reservations, since the popularity of this place can lead to foul-ups.

123 rue Saint-Honoré (1e) Paris

Chef Daniel Achilles won two Michelin stars for his Continental cooking served in a chic dining room within the renovated former workshops of the AEG electrical company. Expect unusual and dramatic dishes such as venison ham with meadow grasses, berries and shallots; ox marrow with scallop tartare, macadamia nuts and water dock leaves; and sunflower seed bread with nougat and ice cream. Closed Sunday and Monday.

Edison Höfe Schlegelstrasse 26c, Mitte Berlin US$130 - US$200

Off the beaten track near the Smithfield meat market in East London, chef Fergus Henderson’s restaurant serves sustaining traditional English food. You might start with the roasted marrow bones and parsley salad, a house classic; then try one of the superb variations of beef — or maybe the skate or sole. Don’t miss the currant-filled Eccles cake or the treacle tart for dessert. Closed Sunday dinner.

26 St. John Street London US$100.

Located in a building that was once the archive of the Duchy of Amalfi, this celebrated restaurant specializes in regional fish/seafood dishes that might include pezzogna (a local blue-spotted bream) with lemon sauce, and mussels with mozzarella, olives, shrimp and tomatoes. For dessert, look no farther than the fried ravioli stuffed with bitter cherries. Notable list of Campanian wines. Closed Tuesdays.

Via Matteo Camera, 12 Amalfi US$85

This family-run, three-star gastronomic mecca features a striking art nouveau dining room serving classic dishes such as sole fillets with a mousseline of Riesling and shrimps, or Landes pigeon in an herb crust with oregano, chanterelles and mixed seasonal vegetables with garlic. Closed Sunday and Monday.

Place Rouppe 23 Brussels US$150. Four-course menu, US$123; five-courses, $192; six-courses, US$256

The three-star table of chef Eric Frechon is one of the best and most reliable top-of-the-heap restaurants in Paris. It formerly migrated between a beautiful oak-paneled dining room (winter-fall) and a glass-walled space overlooking the hotel’s lovely courtyard garden (spring-summer), but has recently moved into a new marble-floored dining room with a slightly bland décor by French decorator Pierre-Yves Rochon. Service is impeccable; it has one of the best wine lists in Paris; and Frechon, an amiable Norman, is a superb cook. His menu evolves constantly, but dishes not to miss include macaroni stuffed with black truffles, foie gras and artichokes; the poularde de Bresse in two services — the breasts in a sauce of vin jaune with asparagus, crayfish and girolle mushrooms, and the thighs with a truffled leek-and-potato bouillon — and any of the chocolate desserts.

112 rue Faubourg Saint Honoré (8e) Hotel Le Bristol Paris Very Expensive

In his waterfront restaurant, chef Tom Kitchin offers imaginative fare using seasonal produce in surprising combinations. Starters might include Orkney diver scallops with pancetta and purple broccoli, or a rich game terrine served with celeriac and orange. Among the main courses, look for dishes such as fillet of wild sea bass poached in red wine and served with creamed leeks, winkles and sea herbs; or Highland lamb with gnocchi, roasted vegetables and an olive-thyme jus. No children under age 5. Closed Sunday and Monday.

78 Commercial Quay Leith Edinburgh US$100; Eight-course Tasting Menu, US$135.

Young chef Marek Šáda produces fine contemporary Czech cuisine at this delightful restaurant next to the Charles Bridge. Šáda cooked in New York, then attended Culinary Institute of America classes in California. This experience explains his worldly style, including dishes such as smoked duck breast with mushrooms and wood sorrel, and seared pike perch with butternut squash and a beurre blanc foam. The wine list offers a superb selection of little-known but excellent Czech wines, which are described by the charming, English-speaking sommelier.

Novotného lávka 9 Prague US$60

This Catalan take on a French bistrot à vins, or bistro specializing in wines, reflects Barcelona’s obsession with design. A high-tech interior allows patrons to peruse some 3,600 available bottles on a computer screen. The list includes everything from local Priorat wines to French Condrieu and Italian Chiantis, and there are also wines from California, Lebanon, South Africa and even England. The menu is wine-friendly and runs to tempting small-plate nibbles such as shrimp sizzled in garlic, along with substantial main courses like butifarra sausages with chanterelles.

Diputació 249 Barcelona US$45

Paris is one of the world’s great jazz cities, and this club near Les Halles is widely regarded as one of the best spots in town. Recently renovated by interior designer Elliott Barnes, who trained with Andrée Putman, Le Duc is looking better than it has for a long time. There are usually several performances an evening, but I like coming to the late show at midnight; check the website to see who’s on.

42 rue des Lombards (1e) Paris

Situated in the former Jewish ghetto, this charming and informal spot is famous for its carciofi alla giudia (fried artichokes, “Jewish style”). Also, try any of the wonderful dishes with fresh-made pasta, the fritto misto vegetariano, and the first-rate stuffed zucchini blossoms. Tables spill out into the quiet piazza, which provides a magical setting in summer. Closed Mondays.

Via Monte de’Cenci 9 Rome US$60

Located in the atmospheric, canal-laced Brera neighborhood, this handsome Tuscan trattoria pulls an arty crowd with dishes such as ribollita soup (made with bread, potatoes and barley) and sliced Florentine-style steak and sautéed potatoes. Ideal for a quiet, relaxed meal.

Via Fiori Chiari 21/5 Milan US$65

Don’t arrive at this workaday café expecting anything particularly glamorous. I enjoy it for the broad terrace overlooking a pretty square, the handy nearby cab rank, and the fact that it’s an everyday Parisian café in one of the city’s most heavily visited neighborhoods. This is a simple café that serves its area well, and since that happens to be the Latin Quarter, it pulls a mix of academics, students and travelers. The wine list is decently priced for a café in a prime precinct, and the waiters are friendly.

18 place Maubert (5e) Paris

This innovative restaurant is set in a restored Georgian townhouse. Chef Paul Kitching’s menu changes weekly, but representative dishes include a risotto with an assiette of carrots, minted peas, mortadella, mozzarella and macadamias; beef fillet with Brazil nuts, prunes and turnips; and pink trout with smoked haddock, horseradish and kippers. Closed Sunday and Monday.

3 Royal Terrace Edinburgh US$75-US$110 (Prix Fixe).

A favorite of the country’s royal family, this elegant restaurant is also a popular choice with visiting celebrities, who come for its gracious service and delicious traditional Spanish cooking. Try dishes such as huevos estrellados (broken eggs) served over fried potatoes, and the excellent steak, baby lamb chops, and baked merluza (hake). Closed in August.

Cava Baja 35 Madrid US$70

The formal Restaurant Königshof overlooks the bustling Karlsplatz. Typical dishes might include sole in artichoke stock with Venus clams and finger limes; wild duck breast with chanterelles, melted foie gras and pumpernickel; and pistachio brittle with baklava, cardamom-spiked blueberries and egg liqueur. Imaginative sommelier and unusual wine list. Closed Sunday and Monday.

Karlsplatz 25 Munich US$150

The “modern classic cuisine using Irish produce in season” at this art-filled restaurant has earned an international reputation. The menu abounds with appealing dishes such as the starter of croquettes of suckling pig with a fried quail egg, foie gras, pancetta and a red pepper mostarda. Among the fish courses, paupiettes of black sole are served with lemon confit, potato gnocchi and a hazelnut viennoise. And the gently spiced Wicklow lamb comes with cauliflower, glazed shiitake mushrooms and crispy sweetbread. I recommend concluding with a selection of French and Irish farmhouse cheeses. Closed Sunday and Monday.

21 Upper Merrion Street (Next to the Merrion Hotel) Dublin US$90-$145 (Prix Fixe); Four-course tasting menu, US$110; Eight-courses, US$210.

Diners here enjoy some of Lisbon’s finest game and seafood in a masculine  atmosphere engendered by paneled walls, stained glass and dark leather chairs. Superb  partridge and duck are served with rice in the local style, while the signature seafood dish  is sea bass cooked in a tomato sauce with ham, onions and white wine.

Rua das Portas de Santo Antão 25 Lisbon US$95

Pink tablecloths, lemon-colored walls and antique furniture create a gracious and refined setting for chef Annie Féolde’s cucina nuova and traditional Tuscan cuisine at this renowned Michelin three-star establishment. Among my favorite delicacies: paccheri (Neapolitan pasta tubes) with cardoons, thyme and pigeon ragout; polenta agnolotti with braised stockfish; grilled sea scallops with celery root, quince and rosemary; and suckling pig accompanied by Jerusalem artichokes and mustard seed-studded shallots. The remarkable wine cellar contains more than 4,500 Italian and foreign vintages. Closed Sundays and Mondays.

Via Ghibellina, 87 Firenze US$195

High ceilings and a beautiful 19th-century bar create a potently Parisian atmosphere at Bistro Volnay. It is run by a smart, friendly pair of young women, and chef Thierry Dufroux’s modern French cooking is innovative without straying into the realm of the odd, making this exactly the kind of place you’re happy to settle into for a relaxed meal and a good bottle of wine. Starters such as smoked Norwegian salmon and duck foie gras with figs are usually available, and main courses run to guinea fowl with wild mushrooms, and entrecôte with sautéed potatoes and cauliflower au gratin. An excellent wine list, along with a jazz pianist occasionally, help the well-dressed crowd of corporate types and visitors unwind.

8 rue Volney (2e) Paris

After cooking at the famous Le Chantecler in Nice and several other well-known tables along the coast, talented chef Alain Llorca has opened an auberge not far from Saint-Paul-de-Vence. The shaded terrace offers fine views of Saint-Paul and the distant Mediterranean, and the menu runs to sophisticated southern French country dishes such as zucchini flowers stuffed with mushrooms; lobster risotto; and rotisserie-roasted duck breast.

350 Route de Saint Paul La Colle sur Loup US$130

Chef Jordi Artal grew up in Canada before returning to his parents’ native Catalonia and opening this excellent restaurant with low-lit contemporary décor. Artal uses only the finest local produce to create dishes such as pork belly with sweet potato purée and grilled spice bread, grilled mackerel with roasted garlic and eggplant, and sea bream with green bean broth and roasted tomatoes.

Aribau 58 Barcelona US$60

This wonderfully old-fashioned restaurant is one of my favorite places to dine in Paris, and I never leave town without having a meal here. The cozy dining room decorated with red velvet banquettes, smoky mirrors and 1950s French ceramics has a preserved-in-amber charm, the service is charming (most of the waiters have been here for years), and its clubby atmosphere derives from the fact that this is one of the most enduringly elegant beau-monde addresses in Paris. The food is delicious, including the famous oeufs mayonnaise (hard-boiled eggs dressed with homemade mayonnaise, a favorite of the regulars), blanquette de veau, excellent steaks and terrific chocolate mousse. Jackets advised for gents—this place is very chic in a casual and very Parisian way.

27 Quai Voltaire (7e) Paris Expensive

Given its location on the tourist-infested Piazza San Marco, this excellent contemporary Italian restaurant is a welcome surprise. The two elegant dining rooms, lit with Murano chandeliers, overlook the great square. It is a deliciously romantic experience to dine here on dishes such as seafood ravioli with baby clams, risotto topped with caviar, and steamed lobster on crushed potatoes with fresh herbs. Gracious service and an outstanding wine list.

Piazza San Marco, 121 Venice US$90

After working at the famous La Régalade for 10 years, chef Stéphane Jego took over this doddering Basque restaurant in a quiet, bourgeois corner of the 7th arrondissement and turned it into one of the most popular bistros in Paris. The diverse crowd includes everyone from high-spirited rugby players (this place can be rather noisy) to sedate older local couples in tweeds. They all come for the same reason: Jego’s hearty southwestern French bistro cooking is outstanding. The menu follows the seasons, but runs to sturdy French comfort food such as foie gras, petit sale (salt-preserved pork served with lentils), and scallops cooked in their open shells, as well as daily specials like sea bream roasted with olive oil and lemon. Book the earlier of the two dinner seatings if you’d like a little more peace and quiet over a very good meal.

27 rue Malar (7e) Paris

One of the oldest restaurants in Paris occupies a pretty pavilion in the gardens of the Champs-Elysées, and there are lovely views of the surrounding chestnut trees from the first-floor dining room, which has an elegant Directoire décor. Three-star chef Yannick Alleno, formerly of Le Meurice, presents dishes such as tronçon of turbot roasted with bone marrow, and Wagyu beef served with crispy raviolis, olives and green tomato jam. Ledoyen is as perfect for an important business lunch as it is for a romantic dinner.

1 avenue Dutuit (8e) Paris Expensive

This light, airy restaurant with a beautiful terrace is felicitously located next to one of Istanbul’s great but relatively unsung sights, the Kariye Museum, a former church with the finest Byzantine mosaics in the world. The kitchen is dedicated to preserving the recipes of the Ottoman Empire. I enjoyed a wonderful variation on dolmas, the grape leaves stuffed with a mix of rice, minced sour cherries, onions and pine nuts cooked in cinnamon-infused olive oil. For my main course, I opted for kirde kebap, sautéed diced lamb and vegetables served on flatbread with yogurt.

Kariye Camii Sokak 6 Istanbul US$60

This restaurant set in a Georgian townhouse is the combined vision of chef Agnar Sverrisson and sommelier Xavier Rousset. Using British produce as well as that from his native Iceland, Sverrisson has created a menu featuring the likes of yellowfin tuna with ginger, soy, bonito and coriander; and Welsh lamb served as best end and shoulder with tomato confit, mint and lamb jus. The restaurant has a Champagne bar and a well-considered wine list. Closed Sunday and Monday.

34 Portman Street London US$90; Tasting Menu, US$125.

Istanbul chefs are embracing new techniques and ingredients and blending them  with the rich traditions of the Turkish kitchen. One of the most notable practitioners is New  Zealand chef Peter Gordon, whose restaurant is ensconced on four floors of a 103-year-old  townhouse. It offers innovations such as a glass ceiling above the kitchen through which  guests can watch chefs create dishes such as a starter of grilled octopus with a spicy sauce of  red miso and nori, and a main course of slow-cooked beef cheeks with Turkish noodles, goat  yogurt and a tangy gremolata sauce.

Siraseviler Caddesi 47 Istanbul US$75

Please note that the Ritz Paris will close this summer for a two-year refurbishment.

Chef Michel Roth’s dining room at the Ritz is a study in la vie en rose, with a ceiling painted to look like the sky, fine views over a courtyard garden, tufted banquettes and acres of silk damask creating a setting of perfect luxury. Especially delightful at lunch, as Roth is a particularly gifted fish cook, the menu here follows the seasons and changes with the chef’s inspiration but features dishes such as foie gras with pineapple and lovage, John Dory with artichokes and girolle mushrooms, and meringue with poached peaches in pink Champagne emulsion.

15 Place Vendôme (1e) Ritz Paris Paris Very Expensive

Young chef Pascal Barbot is one of the rising stars of French cooking, which is why reservations at this tiny dining room with metallic walls and a handful of comfortably spaced tables are very difficult to obtain. Dishes typical of Barbot’s superbly imaginative cooking include his signature “ravioli” of avocado slices stuffed with crab, a small cake of mushrooms and foie gras, and chocolate biscuit with milk sorbet. Closed Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays.

4 rue Beethoven (16e) Paris US$150

Located in one of Zurich’s oldest buildings, which incorporates a magnificent beamed Gothic chamber built in 1348, this Swiss/French restaurant offers substantial traditional cooking. Representative dishes include air-dried beef and ham; goose liver escalopes with apple, malt beer sauce and amaretti cookies; and veal steak with a cognac and pepper sauce. Superb views of the Limmat River and Old Town. Closed Saturday and Sunday.

Limmatquai 42 Zurich US$100

On a day when the weather precludes skiing, or if you just want a break from the slopes, this restaurant makes for a satisfying day trip. In Geschinen, 50 minutes by train from Andermatt, it is the place to come for a classic Swiss raclette. Heated over a wood fire, the cheese has a delicious smoky taste.

Wiler 1 Geschinen

Please note that the Ritz Paris will close this summer for a two-year refurbishment.

Drinks cost an arm and a leg at the second bar of the Ritz hotel (the one up front by the entryway is the busier and less intimate Bar Vendôme), but in my opinion, they are worth every euro cent, thanks to effortlessly charming British bartender Colin Field. This cozy little bolt-hole is a shrine to its most famous patron, and his typewriter is displayed below several photos of the famous writer. The affable Field is a brilliant mixologist and loves concocting new drinks for his clients — give him carte blanche and see what he comes up with. His delightful book, “The Cocktails of the Ritz Paris,” a list of his favorite drinks and anecdotes about the people he first made them for, is one of my favorite Paris souvenirs.


15 place Vendôme (1e) Ritz Paris Paris

Located just off the stylish rue du Bac on the Left Bank, chef Joel Robuchon’s fashionable small-plate restaurant is ideal for a light but memorable meal. Reservations are only possible for lunch from 11.30-12.30 pm and 2.00-3.15 pm, and for dinner at 6.30 pm. Otherwise it can be difficult to secure a seat here, but worth it to taste delicious dishes like foie-gras stuffed ravioli in chicken bouillon or sea bass cooked with baby artichokes and girolles mushrooms. Counter service only. Note that a second branch of this restaurant has just opened on the Champs-Elysees.

5 rue de Montalembert (7e) Paris Expensive

Conveniently located in St. James’s, this traditional English seafood house is just the place to sample indigenous pleasures such as Loch Ryan oysters, smoked Scottish salmon, Dorset crab, and grilled Dover sole with Hollandaise sauce. It has a nice selection of wines by the glass. Closed Sundays.

36 Duke Street London US$75.

Located just off the Royal Mile with wonderful views down Victoria Street, this restaurant takes full advantage of Scotland’s superb seafood. Chef Roy Brett’s menu includes starters such as a rich fish and shellfish soup served in Provençal style with rouille, Gruyère and garlic croutons. Main courses might include whole grilled lemon sole with cockles and chorizo; and a fine grilled steak with Bearnaise sauce, chanterelles and thin-cut fried potatoes. Closed Sunday.

2 George IV Bridge Edinburgh US$70.

The best place to experience the sophisticated New Swedish cuisine is at Gastrologik, in the city’s Ostermalm district. This intimate spot is the creation of Executive Chef Jacob Holmström and baker Anton Bjuhr. The daily tasting menu is a suite of surprises. What is consistent, however, is the use of local seasonal produce, a hallmark of this cooking, as seen in dishes such as oysters with fermented cucumber, and braised oxtail with beer gelée and dried beetroot. Odd as these may sound, they’re delicious. Closed Sunday and Monday.

Artillerigatan 14 Stockholm US$115-US$157

Located on the banks of the Seine, this stylish fish house used to be a rather stuffy and sleepy place called Le Pont de l’Alma. In its welcome new incarnation, it has an open kitchen, dark parquet floors and a terrific young service team, most of whom speak English and all of whom are very keen to please. Since the quality of the cooking is excellent and it’s just a stroll from the Four Seasons George V, this is one of my favorite restaurants in the 8th arrondissement. Snag a table with a view of the Eiffel Tower across the river and order dishes such as sea bream carpaccio with caviar, freshly shucked oysters, delicious fish soup, sole meunière, or the sea bass cooked over a bed of wild fennel stalks for two. From the very good wine list, I always order the Saint-Péray, a northern Rhône white that teams beautifully with seafood.

10 avenue de New York (16e) Paris

Overlooking a quiet square in the Poblenou district, this excellent under-the-radar fish restaurant is much loved by the locals, who flock here for dishes such as fried baby squid, rice with shrimp and smoked cheese, salt cod with romesco sauce (tomatoes, garlic and almonds) accompanied by creamed spinach, and lemon cake. Be sure to try the delicious white Priorat Catalonian wines.

Plaça Prim 1 Barcelona US$80

This welcoming restaurant in an old lodge adjacent to the Château de Blois serves intelligently updated French classics such as boned frogs’ legs in lettuce cream with goat cheese gnocchi, veal sweetbreads with mustard sauce, and Grand Marnier soufflé. Closed Sunday and Monday.

1 Avenue Jean-Laigret Blois

The sister restaurant to the very popular Bistrot Paul Bert next door serves up an excellent and reasonably priced catch of the day menu to an arty crowd of locals. Since the properietor is Gwenaëlle Cadoret, the daughter of a famous oyster grower from Riec-sur-Belon in Brittany, it’s no surprise that the bivalves here are first-rate, as are the langoustines roasted in seaweed butter and the sole meunière. With a nautically themed (but not kitschy) décor of wood paneling, mosaics and model boats, this place is just about as close to a Breton seafood shack as you’re likely to find in Paris. Finish up with the apple compote with salted-caramel sauce and vanilla ice cream, and note that the Muscadets are a great buy on the good wine list.

22 rue Paul Bert (11e) Paris

Founded in 2004 by bilingual Frenchman Olivier Magny, O Chateau has emerged as the premier organization in Paris for those who aspire to seriously deepen their knowledge of wine through instructional tastings. Courses are held in a magnificent 17th-century limestone cellar in the heart of Paris, and while serious, they’re also good fun. They range from "Introductory Wine Tasting" to "Wine and Cheese Lunch" and "Grands Crus Tasting", among other options, and Magny also conducts excellent day trips with tastings in the Champagne country. All events are in both French and English.

68 rue Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1e) Paris Introductory Wine Tasting, €30; Grands Crus Tasting, €120

Martin Wishart brought Edinburgh its first Michelin star. Set in the docklands of Leith, this sophisticated restaurant has wood accents, muted colors and gentle lighting. Look for starters such as Orkney scallops with black truffles, Jerusalem artichokes, sweet potatoes and hazelnuts, or squab ravioli served in consommé with white radish and carrots. Main courses might include Dover sole, oysters and caviar with squid and herbs; or roe deer with braised lettuce, carrots, dates and barbecued onions. Closed Sunday and Monday.

54 The Shore Leith Edinburgh Three-course à la carte menu, US$105; Six-course tasting menu, US$115.

The specialty of this friendly and popular white-tablecloth restaurant in the heart of Vienna is tafelspitz, the favorite dish of Emperor Franz Joseph I. It’s a hearty meal of beef simmered with root vegetables and spices in beef bouillon accompanied by side dishes of fried potatoes, applesauce with horseradish, and creamed spinach. In warmer months, request a table on the bright covered patio.

Wollzeile 38 Vienna US$50

The Amsterdam outpost of well-known British chef Jamie Oliver is a lively, modern brasserie with a mostly Mediterranean-inspired menu. A young, friendly atmosphere prevails, and the food is excellent, including dishes such as mussel risotto, roasted leg of venison with buttered broad beans, and dark chocolate tart.

Jollemanhof 9 Amsterdam US$55

A local favorite since it opened in 1951, this family-run seafood restaurant is mostly supplied by the owners’ two fishing boats — which explains the spectacular freshness of the catch-of-the-day menu. Start with pasta with sardine sauce, a Palermitan specialty, then enjoy some locally caught prawns or a grilled fish. Closed Sundays.

4 Piazzetta Mulino a Vento Palermo

Just across the street from the western wing of the Louvre, Le Fumoir is a great all-purpose address: a combination bar, café and restaurant. Inside, you’ll find bare wooden floors and a handsome mahogany bar imported from a Chicago speakeasy, and there are sidewalk tables when the weather is decent. The staff is young, alert and friendly, and the drink list is reasonably priced and expertly mixed. There are also complimentary newspapers, a good assortment of wines by the glass, and a generously served brunch on Sundays.

6 rue de l'Amiral de Coligny (1e) Paris

Located next to the Grand Palais exhibition gallery adjacent to the Champs-Elysées, this handsome restaurant has a décor inspired by an artist’s atelier. It is run by chef Eric Frechon of the three-star Epicure, and he’s created a stylish, cosmopolitan menu that changes with the seasons and is ideal for casual dining. Start with creamy burrata cheese topped with Parma ham and pine nuts or smoked salmon with tzatziki, and then try the pan-roasted John Dory served on a carpaccio of tomatoes and garnished with lardo di Colonnata, or beautifully cooked veal sweetbreads in a crust of Comté cheese and a light sauce made with vin jaune. The “giant” baba au rhum with vanilla-scented whipped cream for dessert is worth throwing calorie counting to the winds, and service here is prompt and charming. They also have a wonderful covered balcony terrace for warm-weather dining.

Avenue Winston Churchill (8e) Grand Palais Paris Moderate

Located just around the corner from the Campo de’ Fiori market, this is a favorite place for casual dining. The snug space is tucked away behind a gourmet grocery shop. Start with burrata, the creamy mozzarella-like cheese from Puglia, with anchovies; or squid-and-vegetable salad; then try the best spaghetti carbonara in town. If you don’t want pasta as a main course, the roasted swordfish with vegetables, and meatballs with smoked ricotta and chestnut polenta, are excellent. There is a superb assortment of cheeses and one of the city’s best wine lists.

Via dei Giubbonari 21 Rome US$60

Occupying a loft-like space with an open kitchen and a black granite counter, this spot proved an immediate hit. Contemporary food is served as tapasstyle appetizers and priced-by-the-weight main courses. Starters have included aged Iberian ham, beef tartare with a mustard sorbet, and a mini-burger of wagyu beef with foie gras mayonnaise and Belgian cheese. Among recommended main courses are the baked fillet of sole with Jerusalem artichokes, butter, lemon parsley and pistou; and lamb fillet with cardamom yogurt and couscous with pear and beets. Closed Sunday and Monday.

Place Sainte-Catherine 8 Brussels US$65

I love sidling up to the beautiful copper bar here for a glass of whatever amiable owner Stéphane Delleré may be pouring, as well as perhaps an overheard French state secret or two. This estimably convivial wine bar is just around the corner from Hôtel Le Bristol, the boutiques on the Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré and the French Ministry of the Interior, which explains why it tends to be thronged with men in dark suits at noon. They come for the good wine and maybe a slab of pâté or some goose rillettes, then a freshly chopped steak tartare, a steak or confit de canard. Don’t pass up the cheese tray, and be forewarned that this place is anything but fancy and can be a bit noisy.

4 rue des Saussaies (8e) Paris

Located on the banks of the Loire, this popular restaurant has three dining rooms — two modern, one traditional — and offers dishes such as foie gras marinated in Muscat wine, roasted guinea hen with pistachio butter, and mille-feuille with passion fruit caramel. Closed Monday.

17 Quai Charles Guinot Amboise

With a convenient location in the heart of Paris near the Tuileries and the Place de la Concorde, this popular family-owned brasserie has an appealing menu that will satisfy any appetite. Start with oysters, escargots or onion soup, and then try sole meuniere, steak tartare or grilled Scottish salmon. I particularly enjoy their Sunday special, which is roast lamb with aligot, an Auvergnat dish of potatoes whipped with fresh cheese curds and garlic. They also serve pasta and salads and offer a special menu for children under 12. The non-stop service (from 11.30am to 12.30am) also makes this an excellent spot for a late lunch. 

2 rue Cambon (1e) Paris Moderate
Situated just off Bétlemské Square in the Old Town, this popular spot flaunts an extravagantly floral and feminine décor. Bohemian specialties include roast rabbit stuffed with garlic, onions and Parmesan; and fillet of venison with a cassis/mustard sauce and artichoke purée.

Liliová 1 Prague US$65

An 18th-century townhouse provides a luxurious setting for one of the  city’s loveliest restaurants. Attention to detail and the freshest ingredients produce superlative  dishes such as grouper in clam broth with sautéed vegetables, and terrine of suckling pig  with rösti potatoes, broad beans and tomato stew.

Travessa das Amoreiras 1 Lisbon US$85

Among the bouchons (a local style of bistro), this one stands out for its wonderful atmosphere engendered by beamed ceilings and traditional furniture. It was founded in 1920 as a place for off-duty servants, but quickly grew popular when the local grandees discovered the food. Try dishes such as oxtail terrine and saucisson de Lyon (pork sausage with pistachios) with a side salad of lentils. Closed on Sunday evenings.

25 rue Guynemer Lyon US$45

Innovative New Austrian and Styrian specialties are offered here in stylish surroundings overlooking the Vienna River and the Stadtpark. Expect dishes such as warm artichoke salad with fresh herbs; Lake Attersee pike with preserved lemon, cauliflower and macadamia nuts; and venison with Jerusalem artichokes, quince and pine. Superlative wine list. Dinner only. Closed Saturday and Sunday.

Am Heumarkt 2A/im Stadtpark Vienna US$115

This pretty and fashionable restaurant has a large terrace with wonderful views. Start with the swordfish caponata, then try the delicious seafood couscous, which reflects the Arab occupation of Sicily from the ninth to the 11th centuries.

5 Via Scauri Porto Pantelleria

Expanses of polished walnut embellish this elegant 350-yearold house overlooking the Grand-Place. Under new owners as of last year, the restaurant continues to serve notable dishes, but with a more contemporary cast than before. Look for selections such as oysters in Champagne with cockles and seaweed, and roasted lamb fillet with mint and Coco de Paimpol beans. The wine cellar contains more than 20,000 bottles. Closed Sunday.

Rue Charles Buls 2 Brussels US$120

When young chef Yves Camdeborde opened La Régalade in 1994, he completely changed the direction of French cooking by applying the haute cuisine techniques he’d learned while working in the kitchen at Les Ambassadeurs at the Hôtel de Crillon to traditional bistro cooking. Eschewing cream-based sauces, he brightened and lightened his dishes by using jus and garnishes such as fresh herbs and tiny croutons. This made his restaurant an internationally known success, and kept it full for many years. Camdeborde sold to chef Bruno Doucet a few years back, and now runs Le Comptoir du Relais, but La Régalade continues to be one of the best bistros on the Left Bank. Meals begin with a serve-yourself terrine and continue with choices from a chalkboard menu that might include foie gras in asparagus bouillon, brandade de morue (a homey casserole of mashed potatoes and flaked salt cod), caramelized pork, or steak. Desserts are homemade, and the atmosphere is relaxed and very Parisian. Note that there is now a branch of La Régalade on the Right Bank.

49 avenue Jean Moulin (14e) Paris

Set in the heart of Saint-Germain-des-Prés, Milan designer Giorgio Armani’s in-store restaurant serves excellent Italian cooking in a setting as sleek as his clothing. Gray walls and pumpkin-colored banquettes lend this place a decidedly modern Italian look, and a well-dressed local crowd of book editors, fashion designers and shoppers appreciates the good service and cuisine. Dishes include tuna tartare to start, followed by a superb white truffle risotto or Sardinian pasta with clams, shrimp and baby squid. In the fall, I come here just for the whole cep mushrooms cooked inside of chestnut leaves, a real treat. Nice list of Italian wines, too.

149 boulevard Saint-Germain (6e) Paris

With an ornate traditional French décor of oil paintings on ochre walls and lavish floral arrangements, chef Orsi’s stylish restaurant has an old-school elegance. Expect formal service and classic dishes such as lobster salad, foie gras ravioli, lobster with artichokes, and roast pigeon, along with an excellent cheese tray and sumptuous desserts. Closed Sundays and Mondays.

3 place Kléber Lyon US$135

Located on an island in the Bois de Boulogne, the vast park on the western edge of Paris, this romantic good-weather-only pavilion is surrounded by flowering gardens and towering pines. You will have to take a cab to get here, but it’s a delightful outing on a warm day. A stylish crowd of Parisians enjoys an open-air terrace that is set with well-spaced tables and is candlelit at night. The menu can include starters such as tuna tartare or a terrine of leeks layered with mushrooms. Main courses could be curried shrimp with rice pilaf, the house specialty, or maybe the grilled sea bass with caponata. Topped with fresh raspberries, the airy mille-feuille is an ideal warm-weather dessert.

Bois de Boulogne (16e) Paris

Located in a remodeled Saracen tower on the edge of the sea, this delightful restaurant has two small terraces for fine-weather dining, and an open kitchen where you can see chef Gennaro Esposito, a rising talent, at work. Try dishes such as his superb minestra (soup) with pasta, shellfish and fish; and baby squid filled with Provola cheese and bits of candied lemon. Excellent service and wine list.

Via Torretta, 9 Localita Marina d’Aequa Vico Equense Napoli US$140

Chef Dominic Jack has worked in some of Europe’s top kitchens, including as a sous chef at Taillevent in Paris. The restaurant is a model of comfortable contemporary style. Jack makes full use of fine Scottish produce. Representative dishes might include Orkney scallops with a pissaladière and wild arugula, monkfish wrapped in Ayrshire ham with sweet pepper marmalade and basil gnocchi, and saddle of roe deer with celery, celeriac, apple and caramelized walnuts. No children under age 5. Closed Sunday and Monday. 

33/35 Castle Terrace Edinburgh US$120; Eight-course Tasting Menu, US$115.

Just a few miles outside of Uzès, chef Julien Lavandet and his partner Jennifer Henriksen have created a delightful and deservedly popular restaurant with excellent market-driven Provençal cooking. The menu changes regularly, but dishes such as herb-garnished red tuna and shrimp tartare, and yellow pollock with Swiss chard, artichokes and spinach show off his style. Several large terraces provide venues for fine-weather dining.

12 Route d'Uzès Montaren-et-Saint-Médiers

With aproned waiters, a tile floor and old-fashioned light fixtures, this is the sort of glorious Paris bistro the whole world dreams about. The ultimate meal here begins with the sublime terrine de foie gras, followed by the best boeuf bourguignon in Paris, and homemade mille-feuille for dessert. Closed Saturdays and Sundays.

117 rue du Cherche-Midi (6e) Paris US$75

Though the Cordon Bleu now has campuses in other cities, for anyone with a serious interest in cooking there’s nothing quite like the bona fide French atmosphere at the original school in Paris. Founded in 1895, it has trained thousands of the world’s most celebrated chefs (Julia Child among them) and offers a broad range of courses according to one’s interests and culinary acumen. The very popular four-day French Regional Cuisine course, which covers a different region daily, is highly recommended for serious amateur cooks. The two-hour courses offered daily are very professional and highly enjoyable as well. Instruction is in French with English translation in most courses.

8 rue Léon Delhomme (15e) Paris Prices vary by course

This bustling bistro offers not only a fine array of traditional dishes but also a delicious dose of eternal Paris. It originally opened to feed the hungry stall-holders and workers from Les Halles, the central market of Paris, which was once just down the street. That market, sadly, is long gone (it moved to suburban Rungis in the ’70s and the original buildings were demolished), but the raucous, jolly mood of this place harks back to an era when farmers and merchants arrived in the middle of the night to peddle their wares. I can’t think of any happier cure for jet lag than a 2 a.m. feast at this place, which serves until 5:30 a.m., especially since it offers some of the best rib steaks in town with huge sides of crispy golden frites (a meal best washed down with the house Brouilly, still decanted from big barrels up front). Other good dishes include wonderful pâtés, mutton with white beans, andouillette (chitterling) sausages, and offal for those who don’t find it awful. Service is brisk and wisecracking, and there’s a lot of chatting between tables.

5 rue des Prouvaires (1e) Paris

The famously healthy cooking of Crete, with its use of olive oil, vegetables, fruit and yogurt, is popular in Athens, and Alatsi is the place to sample this cuisine at its finest. Watch for chef Dimitris Skarmoutsos’ dolmadakia (grape leaves stuffed with rice and Cretan herbs); gamopilafo, a pilaf made with chicken and lamb in a rich stock and ewe’s milk butter; snails boubouristi (fried in olive oil, vinegar and rosemary); and cabbage rice with smoked pork.

Vrasida 13 Athens US$50

The best Indian food outside of the subcontinent is generally reckoned to be in London. Once, the restaurants were mostly simple and the menus restricted. No longer. Elegant Amaya draws a well-dressed crowd, and chefs working in the attractive open kitchen prepare wonderful dishes that might include lobster in masala sauce, chicken biryani, and a sublime pomegranate sorbet for dessert. 

Halkin Arcade Motcomb Street London US$70.

This traditional Belgian brasserie is a great address for beer lovers, since it serves some 50 artisanal brews. Casual, relaxed and very popular, it is a great place to sample Belgian home cooking, including dishes such as deep-fried shrimp croquettes and carbonnade, or beef braised with beer. Credit cards are not accepted.

Rue Keyenveld 36 Brussels US$50

Celadon-colored walls, molded archways and a striking mosaic floor provide a memorable setting at this discreetly chic restaurant frequented by the fashion and business communities. I come here for the simply prepared seafood dishes, such as linguine tossed with scampi and zucchini flowers, and sea bass baked with artichokes.

Via Pasquale Sottocorno 6 Milan US$100

Popular with fashionable young Milanese, this new restaurant has a colorful décor, a relaxed atmosphere and a creative menu that includes many vegetarian options. Try the red-onion-and-Taleggio strudel to start, and then lasagna with trevisana (red endive) and Gorgonzola, followed by pork loin cooked in bacon and served with aioli.

Via Gian Giacomo Mora, 3 Milan US$65

Located on the first floor of the Trussardi boutique, adjacent to La Scala opera house, this refined restaurant is an excellent choice for lunch. The offerings change daily, but the intelligent and creative cooking runs to dishes such as grilled scallops and squid with red cabbage; risotto with turmeric; and pork loin with bacon and butter-braised Savoy cabbage.

Piazza della Scala, 5 Milan US$65

As Saint-Germain-des-Prés has become overrun by luxury boutiques, many of its best little watering holes are no more. This is one reason I like Le Bar, a polite but pleasantly raffish place popular with a diverse crowd of book editors, politicians and boutique owners. You never know who you’re going to find here when you settle down on one of the cushy leather sofas for a well-made drink. They also give generous pours.

27 rue de Condé (6e) Paris

French-born chef Claude Bosi created a major stir when he opened his Michelin-starred restaurant in the Shropshire town of Ludlow in 2000. Now he’s back to London, and his dining room just off of New Bond Street is a sensation all over again. Expect dishes such as warm pike quenelles with chestnuts and a variation on quiche Lorraine; Scottish partridge with roasted cauliflower, curried capers and raisins; and a fine selection of British and French cheeses. Excellent value prix-fixe lunch menu. Closed Sunday and Monday.

29 Maddox Street London Three-course Prix Fixe Menu, US$100; Six Courses, US$115; Eight Courses, US$135

A legendary seafood restaurant since 1851, this was a particular favorite of 007 creator Ian Fleming and allegedly is the place where he discovered that martinis were better “shaken, not stirred.” A 10-foot-long display of crustacea includes a wonderful selection of oysters. The smoked fish is marvelous, and for main courses, watch for delicious dishes such as smoked haddock with Colcannon potatoes, poached egg and mustard; or slip soles with seaweed butter and cockles. 

20 Mount Street London US$95.

Located between Castle Hill and the Danube, this charming traditional restaurant specializes in duck (kacsa means “duck” in Hungarian), the signature style being crispy roast duck with sour morello cherries. Other Hungarian/Continental dishes include saddle of lamb with walnuts, and heirloom beef steak in a red-wine sauce with pearl onions. The ambience is hospitable and the service attentive.

Fő utca 75 Budapest US$55

Once frequented by Picasso and Hemingway, today this smart café is more the haunt of students, gallery owners and antique dealers than of the artists who inspired its name. Fortunately, it hasn’t lost any of its classic Left Bank atmosphere as its clientele has changed. I like it because it’s quieter than the cafés on the busier Left Bank boulevards, and the light food it serves is pretty good. The back room, attractively decorated with mid-century ceramics and paintings, is a perfect spot to head with a good book on a rainy afternoon instead of being cooped up in a hotel room.

43 rue de Seine (6e) Paris

Perhaps the most classical of Spain’s great chefs, Berasategui presents a menu that follows the seasons but includes sublime dishes such as oyster with cucumber, sour fruit, kafir and coconut (a combination as delicious as it is surprising); and grilled sole with clam, liquid chili and foamy potato “juice.” Closed Sunday evenings, Mondays and Tuesdays.

Calle Loidi, 4 Lasarte-Oria, Gipuzkoa San Sebastián US$170

This fashionable Swiss/Continental restaurant is housed in a grand five-story Biedermeier building with an interior adorned with original works by Miró, Matisse, Chagall and Picasso. Regional specialties include venison terrine, and bundnerfleisch, thinly sliced smoked and dried beef. Representative main dishes include veal steak in a morel sauce, and turbot in Riesling sauce with sauerkraut.

Rämistrasse 4 Zurich US$110

Like many of the best new Parisian chefs, Guillaume Delage has set up shop in a remote residential neighborhood. It is worth traveling to his simple but attractive corner bistro, however, for outstanding contemporary French food. Expect dishes such as an oyster velouté (soup); roasted shoulder of lamb with white beans, black olives and sun-dried tomatoes; and bittersweet chocolate soufflé. Closed Saturdays and Sundays.

208 rue de la Croix-Nivert (15e) Paris US$65

Located in the stylish Bairro Alto, this lively restaurant draws a well-heeled  crowd for the modern Portuguese dishes of Bosnian-born chef Ljubomir Stanisic. Stanisic  creates intriguing tasting menus that change constantly, featuring dishes such as sautéed  foie gras in chestnut flour with a Muscatel-pineapple reduction, and pistachio-crusted goat  with quinoa.

Rua do Teixeira 35 Lisbon US$75

Indonesian food is to Amsterdam as Indian food is to London — a much-loved edible souvenir of the colonial past. The best place in the city to sample this intriguing cuisine is Tempo Doeloe (“The Old Days” in Indonesian). For the uninitiated, the best introduction to this sophisticated cuisine is a rijsttafel (rice table), which is a sampler buffet of many individual dishes, including gadon dari sapi ( beef in a gentle coriander-flavored coconut sauce), ajam roedjak (chicken in a spicy chili-coconut sauce), and sambal goreng oedang (baby prawns with Indonesian spices). Closed Sundays.

Utrechtsestraat 75 Amsterdam US$60

No trip to Munich would be complete without a visit to one of its legendary beer halls. This one overlooking the charming Viktualienmarkt, or main food market, is our favorite for its hearty beef goulash with brown pretzel dumplings and homemade bratwurst seasoned with beer and served with mashed potatoes and sauerkraut.

Viktualienmarkt 15 Munich US$35

Chef Karl Ederer is a leading proponent of new German cooking, which looks around the world for inspiration and highlights top-quality ingredients. The handsome, highceilinged dining room has several woodburning fireplaces and is decorated with modern art. Ederer’s menu evolves constantly, but dishes such as zucchini flowers stuffed with polenta, mushrooms, eggplant and mint; trout with tarragon sauce, green onions and spinach; and variations of local venison with broccoli, wild garlic sauce and scalloped potatoes exemplify his style. Closed Sunday.

Kardinal-Faulhaber-Strasse 10 Munich US$65

Located on the banks of the Seine in Saint-Germain-des-Prés, this romantic restaurant occupies a townhouse that dates to 1766 and has a long and fascinating history; the great French gastronome Auguste Escoffier was once the chef here. The main dining room has real Old World elegance, with low lighting, oil paintings and wood paneling, and they also have several private dining rooms where the scratches in the mirrors are said to have been made by ladies testing the veracity of diamonds newly offered by their suitors.  It is also very quiet and ideal for a tete a tete. Chef Jean-Sebastien Pouch offers an appealing menu that runs to dishes like langoustines or dressed crab for starters, and main courses such as turbot with a condiment of lemons, capers and shallots or rack of lamb with olive cream.

51 quai des Grands Augustins (6e) Paris Expensive

Not far from the Louvre, this corner wine bar is also recommended for a good casual French meal. It occupies a quirky triangular space on a corner near the Place des Victoires, and the main dining room is up a flight of stairs. Most of the wines on offer are organic, or what the French call naturel, which means unsulfured, and many are from offbeat wine regions. Dishes to watch for include a superb veal tartare with Parmesan shavings, steak tartare, sea bass with baby vegetables, pear clafoutis (baked in custard) and the fine cheese plate. This place works with the best local suppliers, including star Paris butcher Hugo Desnoyer. During the summer, it serves on the sidewalk, which is lovely on a warm night.

43 rue Croix des Petits Champs (1e) Paris

Self-taught chef Hervé Bourdon has developed a remarkable network of local suppliers, and he respects the quality of their produce by cooking it simply and precisely. This excellent seafood restaurant is where we celebrated the end of our cure with a superb meal of mackerel sashimi on cauliflower purée, and sea bass with artichokes and ginger.

11 Quai Saint-Ivy Portivy Saint-Pierre-Quiberon

A perfect riverfront location provides views of Prague Castle and the Charles Bridge. The Czech/Continental cuisine is consistently well-prepared, and typical entrées include veal fillet with root vegetable purée, potato “fondant” and wild mushroom sauce; and fennel pollen-dusted monkfish with chorizo couscous and bouillabaisse sauce. A champagne jazz brunch is held on Sundays.

Smetanovo nábrezí 18 Prague US$85

Located next to the little white lighthouse at the entrance to the fishing port of Sauzon on Belle-Ile, this simple seafood restaurant serves the excellent local catch of the day, including langoustines, mussels, oysters, lobster and sea bass. An enchanting terrace overlooks the harbor. Open April 1st through September 30th.

Quai Guerveur Hôtel du Phare Sauzon

After a stint at Tavares, one of the oldest restaurants in Lisbon, brilliant young  chef José Avillez moved to Belcanto. Located in the heart of the city, his restaurant has a  sophisticated but relaxed atmosphere. Avillez creates intricate dishes with mysterious names  such as “Mergulho no Mar” (“Sea Diving”), which is a succulent composition of sea bass,  seaweed and shellfish; or “Paisagem Alentejana” (“Alentejo Landscape”), which just might  make you appreciate pig’s feet, since these are deboned and served with a delicious coriander  sauce. Other dishes not to miss include the excellent partridge escabeche and a clever take on  açorda de bacalhau, a Portuguese favorite of salt cod.

Largo de São Carlos 10 Lisbon US$125

Ferran Adrià-trained chef Sergi Arola has a hit on his hands with this minimalist dining room. Dishes that express Arola’s wonderfully earthy imagination include his delicious vichyssoise with calcots (a type of Spanish green onion); crystallized pickled sardines with “medium-dry” vegetables; and venison with Moroccan spices, chestnuts and apples. Jackets are required for men. Closed Sundays and Mondays.

Zurbano 31 Madrid US$150-$175.

For many years, La Villette, the old slaughterhouse district in the 19th arrondissement, was the place to go in Paris for really good meat. Ever since I found this very popular place on the Left Bank, however, there’s no longer any need to make a long journey for a memorably carnivorous meal. Owner William Bernet presides over this French version of a great steakhouse with its excellent wine list. There is a wonderful assortment of charcuterie from Laguiole in the Auvergne to start, and then the large, beautifully cooked steaks arrive. The best is the rib steak, which is big enough to feed two or three and comes with a side of excellent fries. This insider’s address doesn’t look like much, but it pulls a well-heeled crowd that often includes a well-known face or two, and the atmosphere is relaxed and friendly.

8 rue des Plantes (14e) Paris

An outdoor setting and contemporary Italian cooking make this lakeside establishment an ideal choice on a warm summer evening. The menu changes seasonally, but dishes I sampled such as delicate ravioli stuffed with perch, and rack of lamb with a pistachio crust illustrate the kitchen's undoubted talent.

Via Regina, 73 Brienno Como US$80

Chef Johan Jureskog’s intimate, casual bistro is one of the most popular restaurants in Stockholm. (This is where the city’s chefs come on their nights off, for its cosmopolitan comfort food.) In addition to classics such as escargots and steaks, the menu also offers more inventive dishes, including crab stuffed with pork, tomato and sherry; and roasted lamb with lemon gnocchi, mushrooms, beets and Pecorino. The long bar is ideal for solo dining.

Tegnérgatan 41 Stockholm US$80

French-born chef Alexis Gauthier has opened a terrific restaurant in a handsomely renovated Georgian townhouse in Soho. His menus change with the season, but run to dishes such as scallops with light ginger, green apple purée, crunchy turnips and a coral dressing, and Highland venison and pears with celeriac-black truffle purée in a venison jus. Closed Sundays.

21 Romilly Street London US$65-95 (Prix Fixe Menus).

I love the food of southwestern France, which is the specialty of this discreet restaurant not far from the Gare de Lyon (it’s a great place for lunch or dinner before you hop a TGV to the south of France). Though I liked the dining room better before it was redecorated several years ago, they had the good sense to leave the beautiful wedding-cake moldings untouched, and it’s a quiet, comfortable place for a meal. Start with the superb pâté en croûte of duck foie gras studded with pistachios, or the hot foie gras sautéed with quince, and then tuck into one of the best cassoulets in Paris or confit de canard, grilled duck preserved in its own fat, one of my favorite dishes. Although my meals here are invariably duck-centric, there are many other good things on the menu, including scallop tartare with artichokes and hazelnuts, and sea bass with mussels, leeks and celery. Desserts aren’t especially memorable, but there is a superb collection of Armagnacs.

40 rue Taine (12e) Paris Expensive

This delightful osteria is an ornament of the stylish sailing town of Salò on Lake Garda. This fine home cooking is exemplified by dishes such as beef carpaccio with rucola and shavings of Parmesan, and pasta in a sauce of Bagoss cheese. The fine cellar contains selections from the length of Italy, but emphasizes local wines such as Valtenesi, Lugana and Franciacorta.

Via Butturini, 26 Salò US$60

Located in a quiet residential neighborhood, this handsome hotel bar with gold-trimmed wood paneling and antique mirrors has a pleasantly clubby atmosphere and a special vocation as Paris’ only bar specializing in Champagne. More than 50 pours are available, and it highlights three special cuvées from a different Champagne house every week.

117 rue de Lauriston (16e) Radisson Blu Le Dokhan’s Hotel Paris

Though I liked this beautiful dining room better before it was given a rather gimmicky makeover by Philippe Starck, it’s still one of the loveliest restaurants in Paris, with lavish frescoes, gorgeous mosaic floors and magnificent crystal chandeliers overhead. Chef Yannick Alléno is a real genius, too, and offers luxurious and inventive dishes such as a coddled egg in a crust of herbs with Ossetra caviar, langoustines with a shellfish coral Béarnaise sauce, partridge with juniper berries and cep mushrooms, and roasted pears with spicy caramel. Charming service, and an unusually good selection of wines by the glass in addition to a fine wine list.

228 rue de Rivoli (1e) Hotel Le Meurice Paris Very Expensive

Stylish Parisians hankering after a taste of the food they enjoyed during their Iberian holidays have made this sleek beige dining room on the banks of the Seine one of the most popular foreign restaurants in Paris. It is especially busy on Saturday and Sunday nights, when the locals come for the excellent paellas that emerge from chef Alberto Herraiz’s fogón (oven). Start with an assortment of tapas or some Spanish charcuterie before the mostly rice-based main courses. Service is friendly, and the atmosphere is relaxed but fashionable in a very Saint-Germain-des-Prés kind of way. Good Spanish wine selections.

45 quai des Grands-Augustins (6e) Paris

Scotsman and oenophile Tim Johnston originally worked at Willi’s Wine Bar before setting up this friendly, casual spot in 1987. It’s very popular with local expats and visiting Anglophones, many of whom appreciate Johnston’s Australian pours by the glass. His real forte, however, is Rhône Valley wines, and I’ve had some remarkable glasses here over the years. I often come by if I’m in Paris on my own, since it’s a comfortable spot for solo dining, and I like the contemporary French market-driven menu, which runs to dishes such as grilled tuna steak, pan-roasted duck breast and an assortment of excellent British farmhouse cheeses.

47 rue de Richelieu (1e) Paris

Francisco Pirès, who runs the shellfish stand at this very popular seafood restaurant in a quiet well-heeled corner of the 17th arrondissement near the Place des Ternes, just won the annual competition for France’s best oyster shucker, and this doesn’t surprise me at all, since I’ve admired his deft touch at opening these bivalves for a longtime. The challenge, of course, is to open these gnarly shellfish without damaging the oyster or covering it with splintered shell, and Pirès makes this tough job look easy. Aside from oysters, other good starters here include smoked Norwegian salmon and stuffed clams or mussels. For a main course, I usually go with the grilled sole or the squid à la Provençale, always order a bottle of Menetou-Salon, and never pass up the made to order apple tart, although the crêpes à l’orange are terrific, too.

16 Rue Saussier-Leroy (17e) Paris

With a charming décor created by soft lighting, old beams, oil paintings and seasonal bouquets, this cozy restaurant stands on the site of an old convent where King Louis XIII was crowned in 1610. Before buying the establishment in 1996, chef Manuel Martinez cooked at many of the great restaurants of France, and this impressive background informs the precision of his delicious classical cooking. This place is ideal for a tête-à-tête, and my favorite meal starts with the lobster ravioli garnished with foie gras and cep mushroom crème and continues with sea bass stuffed with duxelles (hashed mushrooms), and perfect vanilla mille-feuille.

8 Rue des Grands Augustins (6e) Paris Expensive

This stylish restaurant has a lovely walled terrace, which affords fine views while protecting diners from the wind. The owner takes great pride in sourcing the best of Pantellerian and Sicilian produce for dishes such as fritto misto; spaghetti with bottarga (dried pressed tuna eggs), pistachios and lemon; and grilled squid or stewed octopus. The wine not to miss is the superb SP68 Bianco 2012 from Sicily’s Occhipinti vineyards.

Strada Punta Carace Pantelleria

Occupying a pretty white pavilion in the gardens of the Champs Élysées, Laurent has a dual personality. It is a popular power lunch venue for French politicians and business people in the afternoon, and then it becomes quieter and more intimate in the evening. During the summer, weather permitting, they serve outside in one of the prettiest gardens in central Paris. Chef Alain Pegouret is a talented classicist with a deft culinary imagination, and I always look forward to his spider crab in fennel cream and turbot with a ham-and-endive tart. In season, the lobster with white truffles is very much worth a splurge, and his warm coffee-and-cardamom soufflé is superb. Excellent wine list and very good service.

41 avenue Gabriel (8e) Paris Very Expensive

Paneled walls and plaid fabrics foster a warm, clublike atmosphere at this hospitable seafood restaurant. The menu offers classics such as fillets of sole in a Champagne sauce, and bouillabaisse of North Sea fish, but also features more exotic dishes like lobster-filled ravioli in a light curry sauce. Closed Sunday.

Rue Bodenbroek 18 Brussels US$110

Located in the silk-stocking 7th arrondissement, not far from the Eiffel Tower, chef Arnaud Pitrois’ stylish contemporary bistro is a soigné address popular with well-heeled locals and travelers in the know. I’ve been coming here for a long time, and always appreciate Madame Pitrois’ welcome and her husband’s inventive but reliably light and delicious contemporary French cooking. The menu follows the seasons, but dishes such as chestnut soup with chicken gnocchi, sea bass with black truffles and arugula sauce, and mandarin orange soufflé offer a good idea of the chef’s style. Good wine list and amiable service.

16 avenue Rapp (7e) Paris

This romantic hillside restaurant has stunning views of both bridges over the  Bosphorus and is one of the most stylish (and expensive) in Istanbul. Order the Turkish  dishes, including standouts such as grilled octopus with white bean and tomato salad, and  lamb fillet with smoked eggplant, in preference to the more modish fusion offerings on  the menu. It also has one of the best lists of Turkish wines in the city.

Adnan Saygun Caddesi Ulus Parki Ici 71/1 Istanbul US$90

Tucked into an old warehouse on the Christianshavn docks, this smart, minimalist restaurant uses only Scandinavian/Arctic ingredients. Chef René Redzepi’s innovative, ever-changing “modern Danish” fare has featured delights such as fillet of Greenland musk ox; turbot and nasturtium with cream and wood sorrel; and hare and poached pear with walnuts and verbena. Closed Sunday and Monday.

Strandgade 93 København US$283 prix fixe

This welcoming spot serves traditional Dutch cooking in a relaxed setting. Owner René Loven’s mission is to offer the sort of comfort food that his mother made for him as a child. Start with the grilled sandwich of Frisian sugar bread with layers of duck liver terrine and a garnish of homemade apple syrup, then try hearty main courses such as suckling pork chops with peas and bacon, creamy mashed potatoes with black truffles and a foie gras sauce. You’ll find an excellent sampler of Dutch cheeses, or conclude with a crème brûlée with homemade licorice ice cream. Friendly service adds to the pleasure of a meal.

Peperstraat 23-25 Amsterdam US$60

The seafood tasting menus at chef Albert Adrià’s small, stylish restaurant specialize in Peruvian-Japanese cooking and dazzle with the freshness of their ingredients and unexpected combinations of flavor and texture.

Carrer Lleida 5 Barcelona

Chef Ross Lewis cooks in an inventive contemporary style that relies on the marvelous Irish larder but draws on the flavors of other cuisines. For example, seared scallop comes with a purée of Jerusalem artichokes and white onions, chorizo and an emulsion of cider and lemon. Look for meat dishes such as a fillet of Irish beef with a casserole of cep mushrooms and roasted cauliflower with deep-fried fritters of bone marrow. For dessert, try the chocolate and condensed buttermilk cream with caramel crunch and barley ice cream. Closed Sunday and Monday.

18-19 Parnell Square Dublin Four-course menu, US$85; Eight-course tasting menu, $95; Eight-course Kitchen Table menu, US$110.

This elegant limestone townhouse near the Assemblée nationale on the Left Bank houses a Latin American cultural center. For knowledgeable locals, it also has one of the most beautiful gardens in Paris, where dinner and lunch are served during the summer months, weather permitting.

217 boulevard Saint-Germain (7e) Paris

Not far from the Arc de Triomphe, this chic seafood restaurant has one of the most beautiful dining rooms in Paris. Be sure to sit on the ground floor so you can enjoy the mosaics, frosted-glass windows and long counter. Quiet, low-lit and romantic, this place attracts a well-dressed international clientele. Start with some caviar, oysters, crab claws or maybe the lobster salad, and then consider the smoked Irish salmon with tomatoes and basil, or the roasted wild turbot with wild mushrooms. Prunier has kid-glove service and an excellent wine list, and it also serves at the counter in front of the shellfish stand in the main dining room.

16 avenue Victor Hugo (16e) Paris

With red-and-ivory-checked curtains, waiters in white aprons and a menu that runs to delicious classic French dishes such as pâté de campagne, foie gras, confit de canard and blanquette de veau, this is a textbook example of the traditional Parisian bistro, a much-loved species that’s sadly becoming endangered. Excellent service; open daily.

129 rue Saint-Dominique (7e) Paris US$70

One of the more unfortunate recent developments in Paris has been the ruination of good hotel bars in an ill-considered effort to become “trendy” (see the Hôtel Plaza Athénée). Happily, the bar at the Hotel Lutetia has escaped. I like sitting at the bar and having a real drink, not some overwrought cocktail, something that’s not always easy to do in Paris. This is a pleasant place for a libation before dinner on the Left Bank. The hotel has recently changed owners and a major renovation is slated; I hope the bar survives intact.

45 boulevard Raspail (6e) Hotel Lutetia Paris

Reviving a famous restaurant such as La Mère Brazier is fraught with challenges, but chef Mathieu Viannay’s shrewd makeover of one of the best-loved tables in Lyon was recently rewarded with two stars. While retaining dishes that date to the restaurant’s founding in 1921 by Eugénie Brazier, he has also introduced some of his own excellent creations. Don’t miss la volaille de Bresse en demi-deuil (poached Bresse chicken with black truffles under its skin) or the Grand Marnier soufflé. The excellent wine list features the best of the Rhône Valley. Closed Saturdays and Sundays.

12 rue Royale Lyon US$120

Just across the street from the stately columned limestone building that once housed the French stock exchange, this lively bistro with a marble-lined art-deco interior is packed with bankers, brokers and journalists at noon and pulls an arty mostly Parisian crowd at dinner. Though it’s owned by the Flo group, the quality of the cooking here is superior to what’s served in most of their other addresses, and service is better drilled, too. Start with oysters, onion soup or smoked salmon, and then try the grilled cod with truffle flavored mashed potatoes, grilled sole with spinach and béarnaise sauce, steak tartare or steaks of Charolais beef.  Note that the quiet sidewalk terrace is a very pleasant setting for a meal during the warm weather months. 


29 rue Vivienne (2e) Paris Moderate

The unassuming appearance of this place belies its high reputation. Two tasting menus are served at dinner. One is for omnivores; the other is for vegetarians. At “Table 0” (for four people), you can sample 10 to 12 experimental dishes, which might find their way onto the main menu one day. Closed Sunday, Monday and Tuesday.

Jægersborggade 41 Copenhagen US$125

Since there are only eight tables at this popular osteria, book before you travel to Venice. Choose the second service at dinner for more relaxed dining, and expect dishes such as grilled razor shell clams, spaghetti alle vongole, and John Dory with sautéed mushrooms.

Calle del Monde Novo Castello 5801 Venice US$80

Diligent young chef Christophe Philippe’s simple little bistro in the Latin Quarter doesn’t have much atmosphere, but is still a great find for anyone who wants to sample inventive contemporary French bistro cooking for reasonable prices. The menu varies but runs to dishes like nems (Vietnamese-style spring rolls) filled with Basque pork and boudin noir, grilled duck breast with pear-turnip compote and lemon-cream mille-feuille for dessert.

8 rue Descartes (5e) Paris Moderate

Also owned by Avillez, this popular bistro specializes in hearty  Portuguese comfort food, including appealing starters such as black pudding with apple  crumble, or chicken livers sautéed with onions and Port marmalade. Several main courses  recall Portugal’s colonial past; for example, don’t miss the sautéed scallops with Indian spices.

Rua dos Duques de Bragança 7 Lisbon US$65

Housed in a renovated mansion, this lavish and elegantly appointed gourmet shrine sits on the fringes of the verdant Bois de la Cambre park. The traditional French menu includes dishes such as Bresse duck with candied figs and honey, and fillet of venison with chestnut purée. During the summer, you may dine outside on the garden terrace. Closed Sunday.

Avenue du Vivier d'Oie 75 Brussels US$130

The most interesting new restaurant is the oddly named &samhoud places, which deservedly won two stars in the 2013 edition of the Benelux Michelin Guide. Israel-born Dutch chef Moshik Roth serves exquisite little cameos such as oyster with borage, lemon, chamomile and sea urchin foam; and sole with onions, kumquats, cauliflower and hazelnuts. I increasingly dislike such complex, finicky menus, but Roth’s was brilliant from start to finish. Frankly, the only thing I didn’t care for here was the arrogant and not very knowledgeable sommelier. Closed Mondays and Tuesdays.

Oosterdokskade 5 Amsterdam Menus, US$170 and US$222

At his low-key establishment on the Royal Mile, chef and co-owner Paul Wedgwood brings together the feel of a French bistro and the superb produce of Scotland. Look for starters such as a terrine of ham hocks with sweet corn ice cream, capers, wild greens and piccalilli; or lobster thermidor crème brûlée with Parmesan shortbread. Among the ever-changing mains, keep an eye out for fillet of Scottish beef with seasonal vegetables, with a choice of truffled jus or a sauce of haggis, brandy and pepper. 

267 Canongate Edinburgh US$60

This unpretentious restaurant is located next to the St. Ambrogio food market. Chef/owner Fabio Picchi presents a menu of traditional Tuscan fare with dishes such as pappa (a typical hearty tomato and bread soup), salt cod with garlic bruschetta, and his signature ricotta, pesto and potato soufflé. The less expensive Trattoria Cibrèo next door is also worth a lunchtime visit. Closed Sundays and Mondays.

Via A. del Verrocchio, 8R Firenze US$80

This casually elegant French brasserie is a welcome addition close to Bond Street and London’s principal upscale shopping district. Look for dishes such as gravlax with potato salad, Jersey oysters served with hot caillette sausage, poussin with garlic herb sauce and preserved lemon, and grilled rump of lamb. There is a very good selection of wines by the glass, carafe and bottle. Closed Sunday.

41 Conduit Street London US$60.

Set on a lively market street in a stylish residential neighborhood, this popular café is a good place for refreshments if you are visiting the Eiffel Tower or Les Invalides. Stop by for breakfast, a coffee, a glass of wine or a light meal: The salmon tartare is good, as are the salads. Service can be a bit hectic, but that’s par for the course in a Parisian café.

38 rue Cler (7e) Paris

Set in a splendid vaulted dining room (once the cellar in an eighth-century monastery), this atmospheric restaurant is under the demanding supervision of Giuseppe Aversa, a renowned authority on Campanian wines and olive oils. Try the wonderful Mediterranean-style fish soup of shellfish and seafood with fresh-made garlic croutons, or the lamb rib chops coated with tomato-flavored breadcrumbs and served with baby vegetables. Closed Wednesdays.

2A Rampa Marina Piccola, 5 Sorrento US$85

For fine traditional Swiss fare, look no farther than this remarkable spot that has been in continuous operation since 1551. Pine-paneled walls, heavy white tablecloths and the soft glow of candles provide an evocative setting for dishes such as pheasant consommé with Armagnac, truffle and quail egg; and the signature macaroni and beef liver cooked in a casserole. Impressive list of Swiss wines. Closed Saturday and Sunday.

Schlüsselgasse 8 Zurich US$90

This well-known Montparnasse watering hole has been slaking the thirsts of artists and intellectuals, including Pablo Picasso and Ernest Hemingway, since 1847. It’s a little touristy, to be sure, but also a great place to pop in for a drink during a wander in the neighborhood. The bar crowd tends toward gregarious locals, while the tourists favor the restaurant on the enclosed terrace. There are never enough stools at the long mahogany bar, but there’s always plenty of atmosphere, and they do know how to mix a good drink. If you’re hungry, the brasserie, which serves oysters and steak tartare, is a better bet than the restaurant.

171 boulevard du Montparnasse (6e) Paris

Chef Josean Martínez Alija’s food more than lives up to its spectacular setting in Frank Gehry’s titanium-clad Bilbao museum. Alija is a great vegetable cook; I loved his foie gras-like avocado, steamed over a bouillon made with conger eel and avocado leaves. Other wonderful dishes include hake cheeks with garlic-mustard broth and chickpeas, and smoked Euskal Oiloa (a Basque breed of chicken) with rosemary and lime, and for dessert, pure Venezuelan chocolate with marzipan “sand.” Closed Mondays.

Avenida Abandoibarra, 2 Bilbao US$95

The more upscale Halali is similarly inviting and congenial. Fortunately, tourists have yet to discover it, and the clientele appeared to be almost exclusively local. Here, the chefs deftly update classic Bavarian cuisine, accompanied by wines from a list particularly strong in Austrian selections. I savored an appetizer of eel with a truffled egg atop fresh whole-grain bread, and a main course of venison in juniper sauce with light spätzle (egg noodles) and red sauerkraut. Closed Sundays.

Schonfeldstrasse 22 Munich

A short walk from The Chedi, this excellent Italian restaurant with a chic modern décor is a firm favorite among skiers, so it is often crowded and reservations are essential. Try the ravioli stuffed with rabbit, the tagliatelle with a wild boar/Chianti sauce, and the saltimbocca pork served with risotto.

Gotthardstrasse 137 Andermatt

This justly renowned establishment is housed in a 16thcentury baronial villa with sweeping views over the lake. It features highly innovative French haute cuisine, with dishes such as beef “Bearnaise” tom yam soup, and langoustines with coconut, curry, figs and Campari. Extensive wine list. Closed Sunday and Monday..

Rue du Château 2 Vevey US$250

Overlooking the lake, this 18th-century mansion offers both a formal art deco restaurant and a delightful brasserie that jointly showcase “New French” cuisine. Among the typical dishes: Lake Geneva crayfish in a chilled vegetable soup with arugula sorbet, and Aubrac beef in a Syrah reduction with caramelized onions and rösti potatoes. Glorious summer terrace. Closed Sunday and Monday.

Quai Gustav-Ador 82 Geneva US$110

This centrally located wine bistro is perfect for lunch during a day of sightseeing, and is also ideal for a casual dinner. It serves excellent Hungarian wines by the glass, and the cheerful English-speaking waiters are happy to guide you through the menu of delicious Hungarian comfort food, including venison ragout soup, a first-rate pork schnitzel, and delicious veal paprikash with small galuska dumplings. Closed Sunday.

Erzsébet körút 43-49 Budapest US$35

Many Athenians consider chef-owner Lefteris Lazarou’s establishment, with  its stunning views of the Acropolis, to be the best seafood restaurant in the city. The catch  of the day varies, of course, as does the menu, but look for dishes such as octopus salad with  celeriac, beets and radishes; and shrimp in garlic sauce. Be forewarned that the fish here is  sold according to weight, so it is usually wise to ask the price to avoid an unpleasant surprise.

Piraeus 80 Keramikos Athens US$150

This cozy traditional Swedish restaurant in medieval Gamla Stan is perfect for anyone who wants to sample local specialties such as pan-fried pike perch with creamed kohlrabi, spinach and lobster vinaigrette; or Swedish meatballs with mashed potatoes, cucumbers and lingonberries in a cream sauce. The wood-floored dining room has an old-fashioned charm; service is courtly; and the wine list is excellent.

Österlånggatan 51 Stockholm Three-course menu, US$100.

With a handsome belle époque interior, this friendly restaurant with professional service is where the Milanese come for local comfort food such as riso al salto, a crispy pancake of saffron-flavored rice; osso buco; and a first-rate cotoletta Milanese (a flattened veal chop dredged in bread crumbs and fried). Desserts include caramelized apple cake and an excellent zabaione.

Viale Pasubio 10 Milan US$65

This glamorous new restaurant with a streamlined modern décor and fine views over Lyon from a hillside location is the most fashionable to open in the city for some time. One of the most famous chefs in Lyon, Tetedoie serves delicious contemporary French dishes such as gnudi with truffled goat cheese, chestnut purée and butternut squash pickles; guinea hen with mushrooms; and passion fruit soufflé. Closed Sundays.

Montée du Chemin Neuf Lyon US$140

Set in a beautiful townhouse on St. Stephen’s Green, this fine restaurant provides an oasis of tranquility in the bustling city. Chef Graham Neville oversees the appealing menu. Look for satisfying dishes such as the starter of smoked salmon with crab and Granny Smith apple, and main courses like wild turbot with pumpkin risotto, Iberico chorizo and a red wine jus. Closed Sunday and Monday.

41 St. Stephen’s Green Dublin US$75; Seven-course tasting menu, US$85.

Working in an open kitchen, talented chef Oldrˇich Sahajdák serves three seven-course tasting menus daily: Continental, market cooking and traditional Czech. Expect dishes such as Prague ham in aspic with pickled cepes and mustard ice cream, poached trout with kohlrabi and wine sauce, and pear strudel with caramel sauce and organic cottage cheese. International wine list, plus bottles from Moravia and Slovakia.

Haštalská 18 Prague Menus, US$110 and US$150

This chic brasserie, with its buzzy atmosphere and post-industrial setting, has a slightly louche glamour that makes it irresistible to Dutch arts, cinema and showbiz people — and the food is very good. Start with the fish soup, then try the plaice with truffle butter on wilted spinach, or the roast chicken, before enjoying a superb tarte Tatin for dessert.

Ruysdaelstraat 54-56 Amsterdam US$50

The sumptuous dining room at the Four Seasons Hotel George V is one of the great restaurants of Paris, with spectacular flower arrangements, one of the best wine lists in France and flawless service. Chef Eric Briffard is an impeccable culinary classicist, but also possesses a witty gastronomic imagination, as seen in dishes such as Norwegian salmon with Cremona mustard, smoked ravioli and watercress cream, and spiced lamb shoulder with harissa sauce and a tagine of vegetables. Superb desserts, too, including chocolate mousse with cappuccino zabaglione.

31 avenue George V (8e) Four Seasons Hotel George V Paris Very Expensive

Since real bistros are becoming harder to find in Saint-Germain- des-Prés — the rents are too high for most to make a go of it — it’s great news when a new one opens, especially if it’s as good as this snug, stylish dining room just off the Rue du Bac. Chef Jean-François Pantaleon, who previously cooked at Apicius, creates delicious contemporary French dishes such as steamed eggs with smoked salmon, a starter; grilled pork belly with salsify tatin; and pears poached in spiced red wine with spice bread ice cream for a chic local crowd. Closed Saturdays and Sundays.

10 Rue de Saint-Simon (7e) Paris US$65

Anthony Genovese, who formerly worked at the Tokyo branch of Florence’s Enoteca Pinchiorri, is one of the most innovative chefs in Rome, and this stylish place offers an eclectic menu of Italian classics and fusion food, including shrimp with turnips, anise and peanuts; spaghetti with lentils and sea urchin; and lamb with Roman broccoli and mushrooms.

Via dei Banchi Vecchi 129a Rome US$100

After working at Le Meurice in Paris, chef Jacques Guillaumat took over this auberge outside of chenonceaux and now serves reasonably priced modern French cuisine. Expect dishes such as langoustine-and-crab-stuffed cannelloni with avocado mousseline, and pike-perch in vanilla sauce. Closed Tuesday and Wednesday.

30 Rue Nationale Chisseaux

Presiding over a mini-empire of well-regarded restaurants, chef-owner Eamonn O’Reilly has become one of the capital’s most prominent chefs. Tucked away just off St. Stephen’s Green, One Pico is a handsome place with tawny walls and flattering lighting. O’Reilly is known for techniques rooted in the French tradition. However, he relies heavily on Irish produce. Look for starters such as risotto with sweet Dublin Bay prawns and truffles, bisque and sweet peas; and braised pork neck with burnt apple, boudin noir and seared scallop. Main courses might include John Dory with charred celeriac, shellfish macaroni and roasted fish velouté; and beef short rib with artichoke purée, mushroom tortellini, smoked marrow bone and a Bordelaise sauce. 

Schoolhouse Lane 5-6 Molesworth Street Dublin US$75; Three-course menu, US$50 (one of Dublin's best deals).

Budapest’s touristy Castle District has only recently acquired restaurants of note, including Pierrot (Fortuna utca 14, tel. 1-375-6971), which has an excellent wine list and an enchanting garden, and Alabárdos, which has a stronger menu. There, favorite dishes include white asparagus soup with tiny cheese dumplings and rhubarb, Danube carp and local crayfish in a cucumber broth, and tender Mangalica pork tenderloin accompanied by falafellike blood pudding and a fresh pea purée. Closed Sunday.

Országház utca 2 Budapest US$65

Young chef Françoise Wicki is a rising talent in Switzerland, and after cooking at the Palace Luzern hotel in Lucerne, she has taken over the dining room of this new boutique hotel in Zurich. Wicki shops in local markets daily and serves delicious Swiss classics such as meat loaf with potato purée and wild mushrooms or Wiener Schnitzel with cucumber salad.

Stauffacherquai 1 Zurich US$90

Everything at Onyx is over the top, from its silvery Cubist-meets-Versailles décor to its all-too-tempting bread cart, with more than 20 varieties of baked goods. The “Hungarian Evolution” tasting menu seeks to elevate traditional recipes to the level of haute cuisine, and it never falters. The foie gras encased in rhubarb gelée was among the silkiest I have ever sampled; the veal tartare topped with a crispy ribbon of green apple had marvelous textural interplay; and the goulash soup tasted exceptionally rich and beefy. Generously poured Hungarian wine pairings rise to the occasion. Vegetarian menu available. Closed Sunday and Monday.

Vörösmarty tér 7-8 Budapest US$110

Exposed brick walls and low light create a warm, relaxed setting in which to discover the excellent contemporary Tuscan cooking of chef Matteo Fantini. Committed to using only local seasonal produce, Fantini changes his menu regularly, but dishes such as poached egg with celery cream, toasted garlic breadcrumbs and wild mushrooms; and Cinta Senese pork fillet with cocoa powder, grilled chard, wild mushrooms and blueberries show off his culinary imagination. Closed Sundays.

Borgo San Frediano, 167R Firenze US$90

Located in the leafy Uccle quarter, Bon-Bon follows an atelier de chef format, which means that young chef Christophe Hardiquest decides daily what to serve. Hardiquest produces Mediterranean-inspired cooking with the finest European produce — veal from the Corrèze region of France, king crab from the Barents Sea, and line-caught wild turbot, sea bass and John Dory. Among his creations have been sea bream on a bed of Swiss chard and baby mussels, and roasted pigeon with chanterelles and tarragon gnocchi.

Avenue de Tervueren 453 Brussels Three-course menu, US$105; five courses, US$190; seven courses, US$230

Mrs. Harper and I have enjoyed several cooking schools in Paris, but this one on the Right Bank in the Marais is our new favorite. The setting is attractive; lessons are in English; and it’s reasonably priced (you can pay an arm and a leg for lessons from celebrity chefs in Paris). Founded by a nice woman from Chicago and her French husband, this well-run outfit offers a variety of courses covering different types of French cooking at different times of the day. The last lesson we did was “Bistro Night in Paris,” which taught us grilled salmon with Béarnaise sauce, a new riff on mashed potatoes, and an easy fruit tart. Other themes include French breakfast pastries, bistro lunches and a French market class.

80 quai de l’Hôtel de Ville (4e) Paris Bistro Night: €65

This is one of the city’s iconic bouchons. Since some of these dishes are acquired tastes — chitterling sausage, calf’s head and tripe, for example — we suggest you come for lunch and maybe opt for dishes such as saucisson de Lyon, chicken in vinegar sauce, Saint-Marcellin cheese and tarte pralinée. Closed Saturdays and Sundays.

7 rue Garet Lyon US$35

Husband-and-wife team Agata Parisella and Romeo Caraccio fuse contemporary cuisine with venerable Roman traditions. Dishes include ravioli filled with braised oxtail, simple yet delicious spaghetti with grated Pecorino cheese and black pepper, Mediterranean scorpion fish with a potato foam and sea urchins, and rich braised veal cheek with a parsnip purée.

Via Carlo Alberto, 45 Rome US$110

Chef Jordi Esteve won a Michelin star this year for his contemporary Catalan cooking at this calm, elegant dining room. Dishes such as lobster salad with shiitake mushrooms and a mandarin orange dressing, and grilled squid and artichokes with a honey sauce show off his style.

Carrer de València, 28 Barcelona

When I’m in Paris during the ‘r’ months, this snug, friendly little place in the heart of Saint-Germain-des-Prés is one of my very favorite spots for an oyster lunch. The only thing they serve aside from freshly shucked oysters from the Marennes-Oléron are side orders of boiled shrimp, fresh sea urchins and clams, but their bivalves are superb and there’s a nice little wine list of mostly Loire Valley whites.  Though seating is elbow-to-elbow, this white-painted shopfront pulls a stylish local crowd and is a lot of fun.

3 rue Montfaucon (6e) Paris

This historic trattoria is run by Antonio De Angelis and his American wife, Aurelia, and features local and regional products. Delicious, unpretentious dishes include stuffed squid, and linguine with redfish. Be sure to save room for the famous torta caprese with mulberry crêpes. Closed Wednesdays.

Via le Botteghe, 12 Capri Napoli US$80

The wood-paneled walls and tartan carpeting of this popular bar near the Louvre attest to the fact that the Normandy Hotel has long been popular with British travelers. The bar, however, pulls a decidedly Parisian crowd of bankers, journalists and businesspeople who appreciate the good service, spacious surroundings and well-mixed drinks. Ideal for a fortifying Bloody Mary before a visit to the Louvre, it also has a good selection of wines by the glass and serves a light food menu.

256 rue Saint-Honoré (1e) The Normandy Hotel Paris

After many years working in celebrated Paris kitchens, including Pavillon Ledoyen, Epicure and Arpège, young chef Stéphane Cosnier returned home and opened this modern French bistro, which is a perfect place for lunch after a visit to Carnac. His menu changes often, but runs to dishes such as roasted langoustines with crushed grilled peanuts, John Dory in mussel sauce, and a buckwheat waffle with stewed peaches and verbena ice cream. Closed Mondays.

36 Avenue de la Poste Carnac

Chef Paul Michelli is one of the most famous fish cooks in Paris, and after running a swanky eponymous seafood house in the 7th arrondissement for several years, he moved to this cozy, clubby little place in the heart of Saint-Germain-des-Prés a few years ago. It’s since become a real insider’s address with local gallery owners and antique dealers, many of whom dine here daily, because they love Minchelli’s minimalist cooking style—he believes that really fresh fish should never be overwhelmed by sauces or garnishes. The short menu changes here often but the haddock tartare and the grilled salmon make for a very good meal indeed. I also like the marinated sardines, steamed cod and pasta with poutargue (pressed salted fish eggs).

21 Rue Mazarine (6e) Paris

Argentine-born chef Mauro Colagreco is a rising star on the Riviera at this dramatically located restaurant with beautiful views over the Mediterranean. Colagreco is a poetic cook who delights in using fresh herbs, vegetables and seasonal fruit in tasting menus that include dishes such as potato foam with cod cheeks and white shrimp, and rack of pork with Swiss chard, baby onions and a sauce vierge (chopped tomato in olive oil). Closed Mondays and Tuesdays; from mid-July to the end of August, open daily for dinner and Thursday-Sunday for lunch.

30 avenue Aristide-Briand Menton US$150

Younger Florentines love this animated trattoria, where generous portions of excellent Tuscan classics such as spaghetti dell’ubriacone (cooked in red wine and sauced with a mixture of sautéed garlic, parsley and peperoncino sausage) are served on pretty handpainted ceramic plates. Don't miss the charcuterie — sublime cold cuts such as fennel-scented salami and wild-boar ham — that comes from Falorni, the famous Chianti butcher.

Via de’ Benci, 13R Firenze US$50

I have a soft spot for Bar Le Forum, or just Le Forum, as the regulars call it. Conveniently located near the Madeleine and ideal for a drink before or after dinner, this handsome cocktail bar was founded in 1918 and has been run by the same family since 1931. It has warm oak paneling, good lighting, comfortable seating and a charming and very efficient staff. Needless to say, they mix excellent drinks. I also enjoy Le Forum for its diverse and friendly Parisian clientele (in hotel bars, you often end up talking to other foreigners). The Forum Cocktail, a mix of gin, Noilly Prat dry vermouth and Grand Marnier that was created here in 1929, is a very pleasant tipple.

4 boulevard Malesherbes (8e) Paris

Chef Pedro Subijana Reza was one of the founders of the New Basque cooking movement. Look for dishes such as rice with snails and periwinkles in a tomato-basil “film,” a fricassee of wild mushrooms with powdered nuts and a soy mayonnaise, red mullet with sauces inside transparent fusilli, succulent Iberian pork, a palate-cleansing “gin and tonic on a plate,” and rolled cake with a mulberry sauce and milk meringue. The contemporary dining room offers memorable views of the Bay of Biscay. Closed Sunday evenings, Mondays and the month of February.

Paseo del Padre Orcolaga 56, Igueldo San Sebastián US$145

Located in a pretty 18th-century pavilion in the Royal Danish Horticultural Society’s Gardens, this restaurant has a whimsical modern décor and serves excellent contemporary Danish cooking. At lunch, the menu highlights Scandinavian shellfish, while at dinner, offbeat and inventive prix-fixe menus are presented. The ever-changing offerings run to dishes such as monkfish foie gras, smoked scallops with onion and coconut, and venison prepared two ways. The food is fascinating, but is best suited to the gastronomically adventurous.

Frederiksberg Runddel 1 Frederiksberg Menus, US$145 and US$170

This clubby Italian restaurant with something of a ’60s décor sits in the middle of what Parisians refer to as the “Golden Triangle,” or the most expensive shopping precinct in the 8th arrondissement. It’s a place you’ll either love or hate. The fashion-industry and jet-set regulars get the best service, but even though my name has never appeared on a perfume bottle or in movie credits, I’ve always found the waiters to be polite and charming. Recommended dishes include a fine beef carpaccio with arugula and Parmesan shavings, artichokes alla Romana, spaghetti Belmondo (it’s named after the French actor, and comes with tomato sauce with fresh basil, mozzarella and black olives), and veal scallop topped with sage leaves and a slice of fried prosciutto.

7 rue Chambiges (8e) Paris

A temple of Parisian haute cuisine since 1946, this celebrated power-broking establishment occupies a grand 19th-century townhouse off the Champs-Elysées. Current chef Alain Solivérès presents signature dishes such as boudin of Breton lobster with an emulsion of tarragon and aniseed, and duck’s liver with caramelized fruits and vegetables. Closed weekends and the whole month of August.

15 rue Lamennais (8e) Paris US$175

Ever since it opened on Thanksgiving Day in 1911, Harry’s Bar has been a monument to American expatriate life in Paris. Run for many years by Harry MacElhone, this ever-popular bar has fixtures that were shipped to Paris from New York, and the décor of dusty American college pennants conveys the perennial spirit of the place. It was once the preferred watering hole of American journalists and writers in Paris, but today attracts a much broader but equally thirsty clientele. Don’t expect a decorous cocktail bar, but it’s polite, the drinks are fairly priced and well-mixed (they make a mean Manhattan), and it’s as intrinsically a part of life in Paris as the Louvre or the Eiffel Tower.

5 rue Daunou (2e) Paris

The Adam Tihany-designed restaurant of chef Daniel Boulud on the ground floor of the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park is ideal for lunch after shopping in Knightsbridge (Sloane Street, Harrods and Harvey Nichols). Diners enjoy delicious charcuterie, coq au vin, salads, grills and hamburgers. 

66 Knightsbridge London US$75.

Legendary restaurateurs Livia and Alfonso Iaccarino oversee this elegant establishment. The changing menu features the light, healthy food of Campania given gentle updates in dishes such as ravioli stuffed with Caciotta cheese and marjoram topped with a simple, flavorful sauce of Vesuvian tomatoes and basil; seared amberjack (a kind of mackerel); and the extraordinary pasticcio di melanzane (an eggplant dessert with chocolate sauce). A sensational wine collection of 25,000 bottles is stored in an ancient cellar of Etruscan origin.

Corso Sant’Agata, 11/13 Sant'Agata (Midway between Positano and Sorrento) US$165

Though the atmosphere at this establishment — within an easy walk of the château de Verrières — can be a little stuffy, the contemporary cooking is delicious. The menu changes often, but runs to dishes such as shiitake mushroom soup with bacon, goat cheese éclair with arugula emulsion, and duck breast with a cashew nut crust. Excellent cheese selection and a notable wine list.

6 Rue de Lorraine Saumur

Florentines like to keep this simple little trattoria a closely guarded secret, since it serves superb Tuscan comfort food such as pasta fagioli (with beans) and zucchini stuffed with veal. Closed Wednesdays and Sunday evenings.

Via dei Magazzini, 3R Firenze US$30

With a chic Left Bank address near the Rodin Museum, chef Alain Passard’s L’Arpège, a pear wood-paneled dining room with Lalique glass inserts, is one of the more controversial haute cuisine establishments in Paris. Some adore Passard’s minimalist style and his love of vegetables, most of which come from his own farms in the Sarthe and Brittany, while others find dishes such as onions baked in rock salt and garnished with Parmesan overpriced relative to their simplicity. A brilliant choice for vegetarians or adventurous diners, it’s likely to disappoint if you love the grandeur of traditional French haute cuisine. For my part, I respect Passard’s talent and like his food, especially at lunch, but find the prices a bit wilting. Don’t miss the sautéed chicken with shallots, onions and potato purée — it’s great comfort food at the top of the Gallic food chain.


84 rue de Varenne (7e) Paris Very Expensive

Exposed brick walls create a warm atmosphere at this Italian-style steakhouse and pasta place in the heart of Prague. The food — an appealing selection of antipasti, pastas and grills — is excellent, including linguine with crabmeat, and steaks or veal chops with creamed spinach and roasted potatoes. In addition to a fine list of Italian wines, there are some interesting Czech bottlings.

Platnéřská 13 Prague US$75

Located in the Grand Hôtel, chef Mathias Dahlgren’s two-star restaurant occupies a beautiful, light-filled dining room. The much-lauded Dahlgren changes his menu daily, but you can expect creative new Nordic dishes that use the best seasonal local produce, such as cured salmon with apple, cucumber and horseradish; porter-braised ox cheek with purée of pickled cucumber and fried onion; or lamb and truffles with roasted Jerusalem artichokes.

Södra Blasieholmshamnen 6 Stockholm Dining room prix-fixe menus, US$250-US$275; in the casual Matbaren, US$100

Cristina Bowerman ran a catering company in Austin, Texas, before returning to her native Italy and taking over the kitchen at this handsome restaurant in the delightful Trastevere district. In a city that is notably conservative when it comes to food, Bowerman has won a reputation for inventive dishes such as her signature ravioli filled with asparagus and a cream made with Parmesan that’s been aged for 60 months, and rich risotto made with a Bagnoli blue cheese. On the often-changing menu, watch for dishes such as lamb with pumpkin sauce, shiitake mushrooms and quinoa; and lobster with aromatic salad and avocado. Excellent wine list.

Vicolo dè Cinque, 58 Rome US$140

This two-star restaurant in the heart of the city serves some of the most inventive cooking in Milan. Chef Carlo Cracco was trained by the Italian chef Gualtiero Marchesi, and also studied with Alain Ducasse and Lucas Carton in Paris. His subtle cuisine makes for a fascinating change from traditional Milanese fare. Try dishes such as risotto with sesame seeds and apple gelée, veal kidney with sea urchin, and black cod with honey, coffee and broccoli.

Via Victor Hugo, 4 Milan US$190

One of the most spectacular dining rooms in Paris, Les Ambassadeurs offers a ring-side seat on the history of France, as it overlooks the Place de la Concorde, and occupies an 18th century limestone hôtel particulier that’s one of the most pedigreed properties in the city. The interior is a tour-de-force of Gallic elegance, with stone-lined walls, ceiling frescoes, a harlequin floor and a deeply drilled old-school serving staff who rarely miss a trick. What this restaurant isn’t anymore is a pulpit for an influential Parisian chef; Christian Constant, one of Paris’s most important cooks for having trained a whole raft of young talents, and Jean-François Piège, his successor, have moved on. However young chef Christophe Hache is still a very good cook, and this remains one of the most beautiful dining rooms in the world. Hache menu changes often, but my last meal here was excellent--ormeaux sauvage (wild abalone) with mousseron mushrooms, peas and lardons; veal sweetbreads with crushed cashews and sauteed cabbage; and a perfect strawberry tart.  There’s a remarkable wine list here, too, and the prix-fixe lunch menu is an exceptionally good buy for food of this quality.




10 Place de la Concorde (8e) Hôtel de Crillon Paris Very Expensive

The freshest catch of the day from Holland’s North Sea ports has made this stylish seafood restaurant enormously popular. The menu, which changes constantly depending on what’s available in the market, varies among classic European preparations and those from countries farther afield, especially Asia.

Scheldeplein 4 Amsterdam US$60 - US$85

Young Madrid-born chef David Muñoz won a third Michelin star this year. His restaurant in the gritty Tetuán district o!ers an intriguing experience for anyone keen to try a delicious but uncompromisingly avant-garde meal. The casual dining room is run by serious young staff who are attentive and cordial as they lead you through the various tasting menus. Muñoz is fascinated by Asia, and his cuisine represents a successful meeting of Iberian and Oriental ingredients and cooking techniques, as seen in dishes such as curried green coconut milk soup with clams, scallops, flying fish eggs and garnishes of whitebait; grilled sardine napped with green jalapeño pepper juice; and beef with herring and tomato, peanut butter, yuzu, lime and cider. If this all sounds rather wild, it is. And that’s the point.

Calle de Padre Damián, 23 Madrid

The interior of l’Ecrivain is particularly striking, with a cathedral ceiling, a white wood staircase to an upper level, a subtly striped carpet, tables set with crisp white linens and sparkling glassware, a backlit wall of Mackintosh-esque glass panels and an accent wall of deep red. Chef-owner Derry Clarke trained in classical French cooking, but he has created an innovative menu that can feature dishes such as seared loin of yellowfin tuna with sweet potatoes and cabbage; cod with parsnip, cep velouté and Muscat grapes; and Wicklow venison saddle with pumpkin purée, a ragout of smoked bacon, and toasted oats. Closed Sunday.

109a Lower Baggot Street Dublin US$80; Tasting menus, US$85.

This exceptionally romantic restaurant has a magical terrace overhung by lemon trees. Waiters wearing vests embroidered with lemons weave among candlelit tables at which a chic international crowd feasts on delicious Caprese dishes such as mozzarella grilled inside lemon leaves; seafood antipasti; risotto with lemon, shrimp and arugula; tagliolini with lemon; grilled sea bass; and lemon tart.

Via Palazzo a Mare, 11 Marina Grande Capri US$100

This is the more casual offshoot of the renowned Steirereck. Occupying a pretty glass-walled pavilion, it attracts a stylish crowd for delicious breakfasts and light meals. Dairy goods, including 150 types of cheese, are a specialty. This is an ideal spot for lunch — maybe sour cream soup, a small schnitzel and a slice of the sublime apple strudel that emerges from the oven at 2 p.m. daily.

Am Heumarkt 2A, Stadtpark Wien Vienna US$45

On a cobbled street beneath Bratislava’s castle, the “Blue Star” serves traditional Slovak dishes in its bright, wood-beamed front room and in candlelit brick vaults. I tried a duck liver-stu!ed pasty served atop thyme-infused caramelized spring onions and crunchy apple slices, and a remarkable dish of whole fresh trout stu!ed with bacon and mushrooms, accompanied by expertly roasted potatoes. When I attempted to add a tip to the check, the waitress firmly replied, “No. Service is already included.”

Beblavého 292/14 Bratislava - Staré

South African-born chef Jan Hendrik van der Westhuizen’s casually elegant new restaurant has become a hit in Nice because of his precise and original cooking. The menu follows the seasons, but dishes such as grilled scallops with cauliflower velouté, and a beignet of smoked haddock and guinea hen with raisin-garnished pumpkin purée and pancetta panna cotta are representative. The service is excellent. Closed Sundays and Mondays.

12 Rue Lascaris Nice

This stylish restaurant boasts two Michelin stars, and is one of the city’s most sought-after tables. Run by chef Björn Frantzén, the intimate white dining room has sleek furniture and modern art on the walls. Seasonal produce stars on tasting menus that include dishes such as scallops with smoked cauliflower; poached cod with tomato marmalade, olive tapenade and white beans; veal cooked sous-vide (in a sealed pouch) for three days and served with truffle jus and onion cream; and sublime desserts such as blackberry jam with beets, licorice and blackberries. Closed Sunday and Monday.

Lilla Nygatan 21 Stockholm Set menu, US$330

Tucked away in the back streets of the San Polo district, this superb seafood restaurant is a favorite of Venetians and in-the-know visitors alike. Start with the succulent baby clams cooked in white wine and olive oil and sprinkled with freshly grated Parmesan, and don't miss the tagliolini with granseloa (spider crab), a house specialty. It also serves an outstanding fritto misto of prawns, squid and vegetables, and a hearty dish of cuttlefish cooked in its own ink and served with white polenta. The wine list is excellent.

San Polo, 1911 Venice US$95

A penny-wise crowd of Left Bank locals frequents this popular restaurant where the prix-fixe €42 menu includes three courses, a half-bottle of wine per person and coffee. The food is only fine, but the right time to visit is on a warm summer night. From the terrace outside you’ll enjoy views of the Place de Breteuil and a glimpse of the gilded dome of Les Invalides lit in the distance. Try the shrimp beignets or smoked salmon to start; choose among main courses such as sea bass with lemon butter or rack of lamb; and finish up with cheese or a dessert like crêpes flambéed in Grand Marnier or chocolate profiteroles.

3 place de Breteuil (7e) Paris

Tucked away in a side street near the park created from the old Les Halles de Paris, this charming restaurant has become a hit, thanks to the flavorful, inventive cooking of chef Adeline Grattard. She changes her tasting menu daily, but dishes such as steamed turbot with julienned potatoes and a shellfish emulsion, and ginger ice cream with red fruits and sorrel cream reflect her experience working at Paris’ celebrated Astrance, as well as a stint in Hong Kong. Closed Sundays and Mondays.

Note: Relocating in mid-October.

4 rue Sauval (1e) Paris US$70

For excellent southern French cooking, don’t miss this Marseille institution, perched on rock at the entrance to the old port of Vallon des Au#es. Chef Guillaume Sourrieu makes a superb fish soup, along with more elaborate dishes such as sea bass in caviar butter, John Dory with Swiss chard, gnocchi and black olive sauce, and chocolate soufflé with black-pepper ice cream. Closed Sunday and Monday.

Vallon des Auffes Marseille

This pair of warm and friendly dining rooms on the eastern side of Retiro Park is popular with Madrid’s chefs when they want a meal of Spanish comfort food on their nights off. Dishes not to miss include the ham croquettes filled with béchamel sauce and chopped ham, sautéed potatoes with egg and black truffle, and roasted gratinéed cod with black olive tapenade.

Calle Doctor Castelo, 2 Madrid

Once a louche Montparnasse café frequented by writers and revolutionaries, today Le Dôme is one of the best seafood restaurants in Paris. The original art deco interior survives, with its stained-glass windows and cozy booths. This clubby restaurant is popular with French politicians and corporate brass. Service is precise and formal, and the catch of the day is one of the best in Paris, including excellent oysters, pan-roasted turbot with Hollandaise sauce, and excellent bouillabaisse. Finish up with some roasted figs and vanilla ice cream or maybe a cheese plate composed of fine fromages from the Bras family (as in Michel Bras) in the Auvergne.

108 boulevard Montparnasse (14e) Paris

Avant-garde chef Ferran Adrià has created an intriguing gastronomic adventure at this London men’s club-style restaurant in Madrid’s 19th-century casino. Men still wear coats and ties, but the buttoned-down atmosphere notwithstanding, the contemporary Spanish cooking is bold, sometimes silly, but often very good. So this is a fine choice for anyone willing to brave the wilder shores of gastronomy, as seen in dishes such as razor clam with lemon, juniper and coconut foam; and roast suckling pig with mango, mascarpone and pumpkin salad. Closed Sundays and Mondays.

Alcalá 15 Madrid US$120

This very popular place with a rustic décor of arched paneled walls and wooden tables overlooks the opera house on Max Joseph Platz and serves delicious Bavarian comfort food. Try dishes such as beet carpaccio with smoked local trout, mâche and pumpkin-seed oil; crispy suckling pig with potato and bread dumplings and cabbage salad with bacon; and a dessert of Bavarian cream with quince ragout. The street level is more casual and less expensive than the upper floor.

Residenzstrasse12 Munich US$60

This strategically located café just across the street from the Church of Saint-Germain-des-Prés takes its name from two “magots,” or Japanese statuettes, in the main salon. Its large terrace has been an excellent spot for people-watching since it opened in 1885. Much like its erstwhile rival the Café de Flore, it has attracted many artists and notables over the years and is very expensive. The Deux Magots and the Café de Flore are the salt and pepper of Saint-Germain-des-Prés, eternally paired but also very different. Though the Deux Magots also awards a famous literary prize, it pulls more shoppers than the Flore, and the crowd is often more international than Parisian.

6 place Saint-Germain-des-Prés (6e) Paris

Featuring a glamorous dove-gray décor and a ceiling glittering with 10,000 suspended pieces of cut crystal (the work of young French interior designer Patrick Jouin), the Paris restaurant of globe-trotting chef Alain Ducasse offers a grand slam experience of contemporary French haute cuisine, with some of the best service in the world and a remarkable wine list. Ducasse himself is not in the kitchen, but his lieutenant Christophe Saintagne creates delicious dishes such as langoustines napped with crème fraiche and caviar, turbot with shellfish and Swiss chard, and one of my favorite desserts in the world, caillé de brebis, caramel, poivre, or fresh ewe’s milk cheese with caramel and pepper. A real pomp-and-circumstance address with an international clientele, it’s also ideal for a special-occasion meal or a long, leisurely lunch. Closed Saturdays and Sundays.

Hôtel Plaza-Athénée, 25 avenue Montaigne (8e) Paris US$250, with fixed menus priced higher

Old-fashioned bistros are rare in Paris these days, especially ones that are conveniently located right in the heart of the city. The excellent traditional cooking at this relaxed and quietly chic spot just off the Place des Victoires makes it one of our favorites, especially for dishes such as chicken liver terrine and grilled turbot with Béarnaise sauce. Closed Saturdays and Sundays.

1 rue du Mail (2e) Paris US$60

Located in stylish Nişantaşi, this restaurant specializes in Ottoman cooking  and recalls the days when the empire spread from Bulgaria to Tunisia. Recommended dishes  include yellow lentil soup with croutons and lemon; baked stuffed eggplant and stuffed cabbage  rolls; hünkar beg˘endi (“the sultan’s delight”), a rich lamb stew with eggplant purée; and lamb  shanks with orzo in a light tomato sauce

Mim Kemal Oke Caddesi 21 Nişantaşi Istanbul US$60

Chef Søren Selin has an intriguing gastronomic imagination and a peerless command of culinary technique. His menus change constantly, but are made almost exclusively with Danish seasonal produce, and run to dishes such as lumpfish roe, veal and cranberries; and beef with bone marrow, nettles and cep mushrooms. The vaulted white dining rooms have a quiet drama, and service is excellent. Dinner only; closed Sundays and Mondays.

Dronningens Tværgade 2 Copenhagen US$250

Fans of Wiener Schnitzel and tafelspitz won’t miss meat for a second at vegetarian Tian. With a stylishly decorated interior, this Michelin-starred restaurant serves creative and satisfying dishes such as white and wild asparagus spears in a savory chanterelle cream with fresh peas, al dente lentils with wild garlic-leaf rolls and puntarelle chicory, and Mimolette cheese shavings atop hazelnuts and white chocolate. Closed Sunday and Monday.

Himmelpfortgasse 23 Vienna Menus, US$100 - US$145

Regrettably, because of rising rents and changing tastes, it’s becoming harder and harder to find a simple, old-fashioned French bistro in Saint-Germain-des-Prés. However, that’s not the only reason I enjoy Au Bon Saint Pourçain, my favorite “sore-feet bistro” (it’s close to many of my favorite hotels). The warm welcome of François, the friendly, beetle-browed proprietor, is unfailing, and as soon as you’ve slipped past the heavy velvet curtains, he quickly sets you up with a glass of white Saint-Pourçain, a pleasant country wine from the Auvergne. This snug little place also attracts an interesting crowd of diners, from local book editors and politicians to the occasional fashion designer or movie star. A convivial ambience reigns as you tuck into homey French classics such as pâté de campagne, boeuf aux olives (with green olives) or steak with dauphinoise potatoes. The food is always just fine (never more), but I hope this little corner of Gaul never changes.

10 bis rue Servandoni (6e) Paris

Operating since 1939 in one of the most beautiful locations in the city, the gorgeous Place des Vosges in the Marais, this café has happily withstood the transformation of this patch of Paris into a trendy neighborhood. It remains a friendly, lively, old-fashioned good-value café. Service starts at breakfast and continues until 1 a.m., with a simple menu that includes escargots, good salads and a great steak tartare. It remains the local for many neighborhood residents, who pop in just for a coffee or a glass of wine. I hope it never changes.

19 place des Vosges (4e) Paris http:/

A happy exception to the sorry decline of the traditional Parisian brasserie (most of them are now owned by chains), this bourgeois table in the silk-stocking 16th arrondissement attracts a chic crowd to eat excellent traditional French comfort food in a lively dining room with a 1950s décor. Start with fresh oysters, escargots, green-bean salad or fish soup, and continue with sole meuniere, Bresse chicken, or a filet mignon with frites and Béarnaise sauce. I also love the blanquette de veau (veal in cream sauce) and stuffed cabbage. Also appreciated are the non-stop serving hours during the weekend, when it can be a challenge to find a good place for a late lunch. Service is brisk to occasionally brusque, in the style of many busy brasseries. Reservations essential. 

133 avenue Victor Hugo (16e) Paris Moderate

The only seaside restaurant in Pantelleria, this popular trattoria is better at lunch than at dinner. Start with a pasta Pantesca, with a sauce of tomatoes, onions, garlic and capers, then choose a grilled fish — the tuna, swordfish and amberjack are reliably excellent — with an insalata Pantesca composed of potatoes, tomatoes, capers and olives dressed in olive oil and fresh oregano. Reservations are essential; service is often slow, so relax and enjoy the views.

Contrada Scauri Scalo Pantelleria

Run by the charming Sino-Cambodian Ta family, this stylish restaurant in the heart of Paris offers excellent service and well-prepared Vietnamese cooking. There are a few Cambodian and Laotian dishes on the menu, too, including a succulent Cambodian specialty of ground pork cooked in coconut milk and served over crunchy rice, and lemongrass-flavored Laotian sausages that make a good nibble with drinks. I enjoy this place when I want a night off from French cooking, and always order the nems (deep-fried spring rolls), sautéed Vietnamese-style shrimp and ginger chicken. The wine list is surprisingly good — the Ta sons know and love their French wines — and the small, nicely appointed dining room is a pleasant setting for a relaxed, low-key meal.

38 rue du Mont Thabor (1e) Paris

Chef Oscar Velasco presides over this Madrid outpost of the famous Catalonian restaurant Raco de Can Fabes. His refined seasonal cuisine includes a blend of New Catalan avant-garde creations such as scorpion fish with pumpkin and curry, and Mediterranean classics like pork butifarra with leek, apple, mustard and Port. Closed Sundays and all of August.

Paseo de la Castellana 57 Hotel Hesperia Madrid US$100

With an art deco interior inspired by Normandie, one of the great trans-Atlantic ocean liners, this glamorous brasserie at the Hôtel Plaza Athénée is a favorite of fashion executives and ladies who lunch. In the evening, it attracts a well-heeled international crowd and the occasional movie star with its menu of luxurious Gallic comfort food. My favorite meal here is the salad of mache with artichoke hearts and sliced mushrooms, and rotisseried chicken with wild mushroom lasagna. It also offers a nice king crab salad, and the steaks are excellent. Suave maître d’hôtel Werner Küchler possesses an encyclopedic social knowledge of Paris, and runs this chic dining room with the precision of an orchestra conductor.

25 avenue Montaigne (8e) Hotel Plaza Athénée Paris Paris Expensive

West Zurich, formerly an industrial neighborhood, is rapidly gentrifying and attracting a young, arty crowd. This Michelin-starred restaurant atop the Prime Tower offers great views and excellent contemporary cuisine, such as Mediterranean-style fish soup, and Oriental lamb stew with couscous. Closed Sundays.

Maagplatz 5 Zurich

This stylish steakhouse is where Berliners go for first-rate beef. Start with some oysters, lobster bisque, fennel salad with pear and Parmesan, or salmon tartare with dill and cucumbers, then opt for the beef, which is offered in different weights and with a choice of sauces, vegetables and potatoes.

Friedrichstrasse 105B Mitte Berlin US$90

Chef Mark Hix’s place in Soho is perfect for a pre- or post-theater meal. The kitchen works exclusively with British-sourced produce, as seen in dishes such as house-smoked salmon with Corrigan’s soda bread, followed by grilled lemon sole with Hollandaise, or hanger steak with baked bone marrow. 

66-70 Brewer Street London US$75.

Housed on the unfashionable north shore of the River Liffey by the iconic Ha’penny Bridge, this charming place is reached by a twisting staircase above a bookstore of the same name. Inside, you will find a classic loft space with high ceilings, bare wood floors, big windows, bentwood chairs and uncovered café tables. Starters could include the wonderful fish plate with a selection of artisanal products from the country’s finest smokehouses; a main course might be the char-grilled Hereford sirloin with onions and roasted garlic butter with homemade fries. For dessert, the bread-and-butter pudding with whiskey sauce is tops. The wine list is eclectic, with daily recommendations and wines by the glass posted on a blackboard. 

40 Lower Ormond Quay Dublin US$55.

It is worth overlooking that this cozy restaurant in Geneva’s Old Town is a little touristy in order to enjoy its excellent Swiss specialties, especially fondue. Start with a plate of assiette valaisanne (Swiss charcuterie) and then try the delicious fondue with bolets (wild mushrooms), or the raclette. The Swiss white wine Fendant goes well with these cheese classics.

Rue Puits-St-Pierre 1 Hôtel Les Armures Geneva US$60

Located in the heart of Palermo, this attractive, well-run restaurant with cordial service is widely considered to serve the best food in the city. An outstanding recent dinner began with tastings of several pastas, including cuttlefish ravioli stu"ed with potatoes and Sicilian sa"ron, and main courses of roasted tuna with basil mayonnaise, and pork saltimbocca. Closed Sundays.

6 Piazza Croce dei Vespri Palermo

Perennially popular thanks to its riverside terrace beside the Charles Bridge, this gracious restaurant offers a menu that includes roasted quail with truffled potato purée, glazed grapes and vanilla sauce; and venison loin with green lentils, foie gras ravioli, salsify purée and a juniper demi-glace. The wine list includes a selection of notable Czech vintages.

Na Kampĕ 8b Prague US$100

Though it’s located in the heart of the city on the busy Rue Réaumur, as soon as you step inside this simple, cozy bistro, you’ll think you’re in the French Basque Country. Garlands of red Espelette peppers hang from the ceiling, and the welcome is very warm in this casual room with a vintage mosaic floor, a long service bar and framed posters on the walls. Chef Bertrand Guéneron, who was once sous chef to Alain Senderens, turns out delicious renditions of Basque classics such as axoa, a hearty veal stew; salt cod with chorizo; and baby squid sautéed with Espelette peppers. He also offers a variety of delicious contemporary French dishes, including sautéed fresh cod with curried leeks and coriander, and scallops meunière with almonds and black mushrooms. Paris used to be full of warm, relaxed little bistros serving regional dishes, but as they’ve become scarcer, I like this place even more. Try a bottle of Brana Irouléguy from the Basque Country with your meal, and don’t pass up the gâteau Basque, a flaky cake filled with almond cream.

38 rue Réaumur (3e) Paris

This intimate place in Mayfair was the pioneer of upscale Indian cooking in London, and it won a Michelin star in 2001. Try delicious dishes such as spiced potato cakes filled with spinach and fenugreek leaves, and slow-cooked lamb shank with turmeric, yogurt and a mix of freshly ground spices. 

20 Queen Street London US$75.

Chef Alexandros Kardasis presides over this deservedly popular restaurant in an  attractive downtown location in a renovated house on fashionable Plateon Street. His menu  changes regularly, but don’t miss the Santorini fava beans with caper leaves and caper oil,  one of the best Greek salads in Athens, and the delicious grilled fish of the day with seasonal  greens and a lemon sauce with capers and lime. The marinated roasted chicken with honey  and carrot purée is a standout. 

Plateon 15 Keramikos Athens US$65

Despite its casual décor, this is one of the city’s most popular restaurants, thanks to the brilliant cooking of chef Xavier Franco. His menu follows the seasons, but always includes eight appetizers, 10 main courses and six desserts. Among the signature dishes are fried ham with squid and artichokes, octopus and potato salad with saffron, and roasted suckling pig.

Via Laietana 49 Ohla Hotel Barcelona US$75

Founded in 1903 by the Austrian pastry chef Antoine Rumpelmayer, this elegant tearoom is famous for its lusciously thick hot chocolate and Mont Blanc pastries. These rich meringues, topped with spiced chestnut cream, are a delightful treat after a walk around the Tuileries Garden across the street. Leather armchairs at green marble tables and elegant wall murals create a genteel atmosphere, and you’ll spot many a grandmother here with her happy grandchildren. The lemon and strawberry tarts are delicious, too, and this is an excellent place for afternoon tea.

226 rue de Rivoli (1e) Paris Http://

This friendly and casual bar à vin near the Palace of the Popes in Avignon is an excellent address for lunch or a light dinner. Owners Nicolas Martin and Véronique Bonnemer know their wines and serve a good selection by the glass. I especially recommend their take on shrimp tempura, and the lamb chops with pea purée. Closed Sundays.

46 rue de la Balance Avignon

Ignore the slightly peculiar décor—an odd mix of art deco and colonial style of this long-running brasserie across the street from the Gare Saint Lazare in the heart of Paris and concentrate on the first-rate food served here. I often pop into their tiny oyster bar—open for lunch only, for a plate of freshly shucked bivalves and a glass of Muscadet, but also enjoy a proper sit-down meal of such well-sourced and carefully prepared dishes as crab-filled ravioli or lobster salad, followed by scallops with sautéed spinach or grilled sea bass with a sauce vierge (olive oil, chopped tomato and basil), and a nice baba au rhum. Service is brisk and professional, and this is a good address to bear in mind when many other Paris tables are closed, like the month of August or around the Christmas holidays.

111 rue St Lazare (8e) Paris

Open fires, a checkerboard floor and a palette of cream and gold create a suitably refined setting for chef Christopher Naylor’s French/Continental cuisine. Notable dishes include a rich soup of roasted pumpkin with langoustine tartare and quince jelly, ravioli of veal sweetbreads with crayfish, and beef rib with chard, leeks and roasted shallots, all in a Madeira jus. Closed Sundays.

Prins Hendrikkade 59 Amsterdam US$85

With a charming terrace on one of the side streets leading up from the port, this is one of the best and most reasonably priced tables in busy Bellagio. Owner Armando Valli is an engaging and hospitable host. The menu changes often, but a variety of lake fish is on offer. Alternatively, try the delicious risotto with sausage, red wine, sage and Parmesan shavings.

Salita Mella, 13 Bellagio US$70

Chef Antonio Colaianni may have Italian roots, but he grew up in Bern, and his cooking offers a delicious synthesis of the styles he has mastered on both sides of the Alps. The vegetarian menu, which includes dishes such as ravioli with smoked vegetable jus, and potato dumplings with porcini mushrooms, is deservedly renowned, but Colaianni also displays a deft hand with veal. Closed Sundays and Mondays.

Weinbergstrasse 75 Zurich

If all you want to eat when you come to Paris is foie gras and boeuf bourguignon, this stylish restaurant with a loft-like décor isn’t the right place. If, on the other hand, you want to sample some excellent and inventive contemporary French cooking, you might enjoy chef William Ledeuil’s very popular restaurant in Saint-German-des-Prés. Ledeuil is fascinated by Asian ingredients and recipes, and he creates unusual but unfailingly delicious hybrid dishes like saffon-seasoned potato cream with mussels and ginger aioli, grilled veal shank with a white-peach condiment and teriyaki sauce, and white-chocolate-and-wasabi ice cream with raspberries and a rose sauce. It can be noisy here, and the friendly young staff lack a bit of polish, but Ze Kitchen Galerie has a lively atmosphere and attracts an interesting crowd of artists, antique dealers and gallery owners.


4 rue des Grands Augustins (6e) Paris Moderate to Expensive

Even among food-savvy Romans, this remains a bit of a secret. The interior looks like the classic trattoria, albeit a refined one, with ochre walls hung with old prints. The food is first-class, with dishes such as fresh-made chitarra pasta with marinated anchovies and fried artichokes, and main courses like a variation on the classic Roman dish of steamed salt cod with a purée of broccoli and warm ricotta infused with cocoa beans. Ask for recommendations from the interesting wine list, which is full of selections from Italy’s smaller producers.

Via Giuseppe Giaocchinio Belli 59 Rome $65

Chef Laurent Parrinello cooked at La Chèvre d’Or in Eze and the Hôtel du Cap-Eden-Roc before setting up shop with this small and charming bistro in the Old Town of Antibes. The Mediterranean cuisine that emerges from his open kitchen has made it a local favorite. Expect dishes such as arugula risotto, and half-salted cod steak with grilled baby onions and chorizo. And don’t miss the local goat cheese. Closed Sundays and Mondays.

2 Rue de la Tourraque Juan les Pins Antibes

Though it is located in fashionable Fitzrovia, Dabbous has a post-industrial style more in keeping with evolving East London neighborhoods. A committed locavore, chef Ollie Dabbous strives to make the natural tastes of his produce as eloquent as possible. A perfect example is a starter of home-cured goose with fenugreek. It’s simple but delicious, like all of Dabbous’ signature plates, which have included smoked halibut with a watercress sauce, and a dessert of chocolate-soaked brioche with pecans, adzuki beans and barley malt ice cream. Closed Sunday and Monday.

39 Whitfield Street London US$80.

Tucked just off St. Stephen’s Green, this small, handsome restaurant with plush blue-gray seating and white linen tablecloths features some of the most delicious, inventive cooking in town. Chef Mickael Viljanen gives fine Irish produce intriguing twists. A generous series of amuse-bouches starts off the meal, and has included savory little meringues filled with snap-fresh fish eggs. Following could be starters such as roasted foie gras with blood orange, chicory, smoked eel and licorice; and diver scallop with lardo, a velouté of Jerusalem artichoke, hazelnut and truffle. Among the main courses, you may find roasted turbot with fennel, cockles and langoustines; and lamb with turnips, spinach, olives and goat-milk curds. 

Joshua House Dawson Street Dublin Three-course menu, US$75; Six-course tasting menu, US$100.

Chef Thomas Kammeier has created a stir with his contemporary German cooking at this glamorous restaurant on the top floor of the Hotel InterContinental. His tasting menus change regularly, but run to dishes such as pan-fried sea bass with celery and caramelized whey, grilled veal fillet with oxtail tortellini and truffles, and almond soup with mandarin orange and carrot. Closed Sunday and Monday.

Budapester Strasse 2 Tiergarten Berlin US$130

Amiable service, a good wine list and the excellent cooking of chef Christophe Poirier make this intimate restaurant in a 1768 vintage half-timbered inn a perfect destination for lunch. Try dishes such as broccoli flan with shellfish or foie gras mille-feuille to start, then perhaps the duck breast in pastry with morel mushrooms, or sea bass with fennel and capers. Fresh strawberries in a vanilla dressing make an ideal dessert.

27 place Isaac Benserade Lyons-la-Forêt

The most famous literary café on the Left Bank has been a gathering place for writers, artists and glamorous eccentrics since it opened in 1887. Today, there are at least as many tourists in the crowd as there are creative types, but the Flore continues to be a bastion of the Saint-Germain-des-Prés intelligentsia and popular with fashion designers such as Karl Lagerfeld and Sonia Rykiel. The locals tend to sit inside the pretty art deco salon or, if they’re doing business, to head upstairs for extra discretion. Yes, it’s very expensive, but the price of a coffee is your ticket to one of the greatest shows in Paris. It remains the very definition of a great (many think the greatest) Paris café.

172 boulevard Saint-Germain (6e) Paris

Elegant surroundings on the second floor of the leading Käfer delicatessen enhance a menu of traditional regional cooking. The seasonal menu might include local duck breast cooked sous-vide, with parsley root and pear salad, black walnuts and pear cream; and Danube salmon with root-vegetable broth, horseradish foam, leek, celery and potatoes. Closed Sunday.

Prinzregentenstrasse 73 Munich US$75

Owned by British designer and restaurateur Sir Terence Conran, this sleek, modern brasserie in a glass-roofed space attracts a stylish Left Bank crowd with an appealing menu of contemporary French comfort food. I always start with the smoked Scottish salmon with potato crêpes or the escargots in garlic butter, and then continue to the cod with eggplant and preserved lemons or the roasted shoulder of lamb. Mrs. Harper is a fan of the shrimp Caesar salad and also enjoys the people-watching.

62 rue Mazarine (6e) Paris Moderate

This grand restaurant has a décor of beige walls, dark wood paneling and wall sconces. Waiters in starched white jackets provide excellent service as they deliver superb dishes such as cigales (large shrimp), bull’s meat stew, baby octopus in onion sauce, and other impeccably cooked Catalan classics. There are also French dishes on the menu, but the Spanish ones are the stars.

Carrer de Les Flors 12 Barcelona US$110

Tucked away in a slightly gritty neighborhood near the Gare du Nord (and as a result, quite ideal for a first or last meal in Paris if you’re traveling to England, Belgium or Holland), chef Thierry Breton’s bistro is a crowded, noisy place where the service can be a bit absentminded. Ignore these caveats, though, for some of the best traditional bistro cooking in town. Breton appropriately enough comes from Brittany, and his menu often features produce and dishes from this charming part of France, including fricassee of abalone from the Channel Islands, and excellent scallops cooked in their shells with salted butter in season. The wood-paneled dining room with red velvet banquettes hasn’t changed since the ’50s, but that doesn’t stop an avid crowd of Parisian food-lovers from filling this place nightly (will I ever forget the time that I was seated next to Catherine Deneuve?). The rabbit braised with rosemary is a house classic, and in season, Breton offers one of the best game menus in Paris. Whatever you order, do not miss the superb “Paris Brest” — named for a bicycle race between these two cities, it’s a choux pastry filled with hazelnut butter cream, worth every calorie.

10 rue de Belzunce (10e) Paris

Run for more than 20 years by the natty Zhu Wen, a native of Shanghai, this pleasantly clubby Chinese restaurant is guarded by two marble lions at its front door. Lao Tseu means “Old Master,” and this bijou restaurant attracts a Left Bank crowd of book editors, writers, fashion designers and socialites. They appreciate the stylish décor of black leather-padded walls by celebrated interior designer Olivier Gagnère, deferential service, relaxed atmosphere, reasonable prices (for the neighborhood) and good food. To be sure, this isn’t the best Chinese food you’ll ever eat, but it’s the kind the French upper crust like, and this restaurant has long been one of my favorite Left Bank addresses when I want someplace non-French and easy. The steamed ravioli and other nibbles are good, as are the fried chicken with ginger sauce and the duck with five spices.

209 boulevard Saint-Germain (7e) Paris

Discreet, low-lit and attractively decorated with velvet settees and oil paintings, this snug little bar is one of the best on the Left Bank. Popular with celebrities passing through, and stylish locals, it’s a great spot for a quiet chat or a glass of Champagne in a romantic setting. Service is friendly and attentive, and the drinks are generously poured and perfectly mixed.

13 rue des Beaux-Arts (6e) L’Hotel Paris

A great hue and cry went up several years ago when this much-loved and independently owned Latin Quarter brasserie was taken over by the Brasserie Flo group, because this organization, which also owns La Coupole and several other famous Parisian brasseries does not have a particularly distinguished track record with gastronomy. Happily, however, Flo knew that they’d succeed best by leaving this cozy 1930s vintage dining room down the street from La Sorbonne more or less untouched, and the quality of the cooking has held up pretty well, too. In any event, I never come to Balzar for a gastronomic adventure, but for decent plain French food and because I like the atmosphere so much. Sorbonne professors and local book editors sit cheek by jowl with travelers from around the world, and tuck into dishes like a salad of mache and beets, marinated leeks, choucroute garni, roast chicken, steaks, and very good profiteroles. The regulars all drink the house Bordeaux, which takes no prisoners. Ideal for weekend lunches and late night suppers.


49 rue des Ecoles (5e) Paris Moderate

After studying ethnology and ethnic literature, Fatéma Hal opened this Moroccan restaurant in 1984, and it’s widely considered to serve some of the best food of its kind in Paris. I quite like Moroccan food, and since it’s still not commonly found in North America, it’s always a pleasure to dine in this attractive room. Start with the assortment of eight Moroccan hors d’oeuvres, then order chicken tajine (cooked in a domed clay casserole) garnished with olives and pickled lemons, kefta tajine (beef meatballs with tomatoes, coriander and potatoes) or one of the generous couscous, including a vegetarian version. Finish up with homemade Moroccan pastries and mint tea, and note that Morocco makes some surprisingly good wines.

11 rue Faidherbe (11e) Paris

Set in The Fitzwilliam Hotel, Thornton’s has large windows with views of St. Stephen’s Green. Inside, the dining room is a stylish contemporary space with high ceilings, cream walls and oversize photographs taken by chef Kevin Thornton for his book “Food for Life.” Thornton’s food is French-inspired but employs Irish produce. Look for starters such as roasted quail with a quail egg in brioche, and a thyme sauce. Among the main courses, consider the braised beef with potato mousseline in a shallot sauce, or the mountain lamb with wild garlic and broad beans. Closed Sunday and Monday.

128 St. Stephen’s Green Dublin Three-course menu, US$85; Five-course tasting menu, US$110.

This family-run trattoria offers delicious regional food and outstanding service. The seasonal menu generally features dishes such as a mixed antipasti of veal-stuffed olives, deep-fried zucchini and soft sausage. Another specialty is tortino (small flan-like cakes made with vegetables). Rabbit dishes are a specialty, and if it’s on the menu, try the luscious timballo di coniglio con potate—a casserole of rabbit with potatoes. The clientele is always well turned out, and reservations are essential.

Via di San Vito 13/A Rome US$50

Sadly, this storied restaurant has never been the same since the passing of Claude Terrail, the dapper owner and maître d’hôtel par excellence. Yet it still serves up one of the loveliest views in Paris (the back of Notre Dame, the Seine and its banks) and its famous roast caneton (duckling) in orange sauce. Each dish comes with a postcard with the serial number of the bird as a souvenir, and service is serious and cordial in the best old-fashioned traditions of Gallic gastronomy. To be sure, the kitchen has had some ups and downs during the last few years, but my last meal here was excellent. It’s still a grand experience to daydream over the vista and be coddled in an elegant dining room. Come for lunch to get the view at its best, and also perhaps to take advantage of the good-value prix-fixe lunch menu.

15 quai de la Tournelle (5e) Paris

With a nice outdoor terrace, this popular wine bar serves a variety of appealing choices by the glass (its Loire Valley selection is especially good). There is also a light menu of cheese and charcuterie plates, and the open sandwiches that the French call tartines made with bread from the famous Poilâne bakery nearby. Very popular and very Parisian, this spot is ideal for a light lunch or a drink before dinner.

80 rue des Saints-Pères (7e) Paris

Popular with patrons of the neighboring Drouot auction house, this lively wine bar is a great spot to celebrate a winning bid, or perhaps find the courage to make one. It pours a nice selection of Beaujolais, among other wines, and serves very good charcuterie and cheese platters, along with a hot daily special or two (maybe escargots and pan-fried salmon). Lively and very friendly at noon, it’s quieter in the evening, when it’s ideal for a relaxed, casual nibble and a nice bottle of wine.

8 rue Drouot (9e) Paris

To discover the ultimate barbecue cookery, stop for lunch at chef Victor Arguinzoniz’s cheerful country inn located between Bilbao and San Sebastián. Everything is cooked on a grill, and the results are spectacular. The menu changes frequently, but typical dishes include cod grilled over green oak coals presented with a pepper condiment, squid grilled with onions and served with a sauce of its own ink, and grilled porcini mushrooms in a mushroom cappuccino. Closed Mondays and the month of August.

Plaza San Juan 1 Atxondo, Bizkaia US$125

The latest upscale Indian place is Karam Sethi’s clubby establishment in Mayfair. The décor may be British Raj, but the menu is extremely imaginative. For example, delicious game dishes feature ingredients such as grouse, quail, pigeon, rabbit, roe deer and muntjac (wild Indian barking deer). The suckling pig vindaloo is outstanding. Closed Sunday.

42 Albemarle Street London US$75; Seven-course Tasting Menu, US$85.

Though the atmosphere at this establishment — within an easy walk of the château de Verrières — can be a little stuffy, the contemporary cooking is delicious. The menu changes often, but runs to dishes such as shiitake mushroom soup with bacon, goat cheese éclair with arugula emulsion, and duck breast with a cashew nut crust. Excellent cheese selection and a notable wine list.

6 Rue de Lorraine Saumur

It is always a pleasure to feast on a first-rate catch of the day at this Victorian-style seafood house in Covent Garden (which also makes it ideal for pre- or post-theater dining), with its softly lit, wood-paneled décor. Look for English classics such as potted shrimp, and fish pie. 

28-34 St. Martin's Court London US$95.

Chef Carles Abellán trained alongside Ferran Adrià before opening this restaurant with its steel beams and dark wood tables. Experience his clever cooking as part of a 10-course tasting menu inspired by the cuisine of Catalonia, Andalusia, Asia, Italy and America. Expect dishes such as marinated sardines with balsamic vinegar, blood sausage layered with mashed potatoes, black rice with aioli, and curry-scented banana soup.

Carrer de Comerç 24 Barcelona US$60

Set on the charming piazza in front of the rococo façade of the Santa Maria Maddalena church, this lovely small restaurant offers many pleasures. Foremost is the cooking of chef Rita Colaiacomo, who draws on the traditions of Rome, Emilia-Romagna and Puglia, the land of her grandmother. Look for satisfying starters such as a cake of salt cod and potatoes with chickpea cream; pastas like the classic Roman homemade maccheroncini with tomato, bacon and sheep cheese; and main courses such as lamb chops with potatoes and rosemary.

Piazza della Maddalena, 4 Rome US$75

As an early riser, I often visit this elegant 1862 tearoom during a quiet morning walk in Paris. The coffee is excellent, and it is a special pleasure to read the paper over one of the fresh croissants and watch the world go by on the Rue Royale outside. Though it is most famous for its macarons (the salted-caramel and cassis ones are my favorites), the pastries are excellent, as well. Ladurée is extremely popular for a light lunch or tea later in the day. Pleasant branches are strategically located around the city (75 avenue des Champs-Elysées, 8th; 21 rue Bonaparte, 6th; in the Printemps department store, 64 boulevard Haussmann, 9th) but none has the historic charm of the original.

16 rue Royale (8e) Paris

This attractive restaurant serves both French and German dishes in a dining room adorned with art nouveau mosaics. Start with oysters from the North Sea island of Sylt, then try the excellent Wiener Schnitzel with hot German potato salad, a steak or salmon. Open late, this is a particularly useful address for supper after a concert or ballet.

Französische Strasse 47, Mitte Berlin US$100

The opulent food hall on the sixth floor of this venerable department store is a terrific place for a quick lunch. Counters serve different foods, so you can opt for oysters, sushi or smoked salmon — or experiment with some 1,200 varieties of sausage and cold cuts. Closed Sunday.

Tauentzienstrasse 21-24, Schonenberg Berlin Prices vary

A good choice on a day when the restaurant at Le Jardin des Plumes is closed (Monday and Tuesday), this well-run auberge 10 minutes from Giverny in Gasny serves appealing traditional French dishes such as soft-boiled eggs with creamed morel mushrooms, and steak with perfectly made sauce Albuféra. Closed Tuesday nights and Wednesdays.

1 Place de la République Gasny

If you happen to be in Paris on a warm summer’s day, the first thing you should do that morning is to book a terrace table at this restaurant in a corner of the Palais Royal. Dining alfresco here is unforgettable, as restaurant patrons can stay in this lovely urban garden after it has been closed to the public. The menu includes starters such as squid’s ink or lobster risotto and various salads, and main courses such as roasted sea bass with leeks or wild hare stew. Soigné service and a chic crowd add to the pleasure of a meal here.

110 galerie de Valois (1e) Paris

Run by the charming Madame Ly, this elegantly decorated dining room (Chinese ginger jars, pots of orchids, low lighting) is a relaxing and very pleasant place for a meal of carefully prepared Chinese and other Asian specialties. We always start with spring rolls, steamed ravioli and maybe one of the Thai-style salads, then enjoy the filet of beef with ginger and chives, lacquered duck, or sole with caramel sauce. Finish up with a fresh mango or caramelized bananas, and note that there is a surprisingly good wine list. Very popular with a well-dressed local crowd.

95 avenue Niel (17e) Paris

The three Troiani brothers temper their culinary imaginations with respect for Roman tradition. Several dining rooms (one frescoed and another hung with classical oil paintings) provide memorable settings for the refined gastronomy. Among the signature dishes are a beautiful selection of pristine raw fish in various preparations, and roasted pigeon marinated with wine, herbs and vegetables with rosemary and persimmon. Closed Sundays.

Vicolo dei Soldati 31 Rome US$100

Chef Jordi Cruz was the youngest Spanish chef ever to win a Michelin star, at the restaurant Estany Clar. In this sleek, stylish space, Cruz, a culinary celebrity in Catalonia, showcases local produce in dishes such as scallops on potato blinis, lobster Bolognese, roasted octopus with a shrimp emulsion, and roasted baby lamb with vanilla.

Avenida Tibidabo 1 Barcelona US$125

Chef Jean-François Piège a rising talent of the new generation of French chefs. After cooking at Les Ambassadeurs at the Hotel de Crillon, he opened this intimate, supper-club like space that reminds me of a Miami cocktail lounge in the Fifties. Piège is trying to revise the traditional experience of dining out in Paris by introducing a short menu that allows you to chose one, two or three courses, depending on how hungry you are. In addition, all meals here begin with a wonderful assortment of hors d’oeuvres and include a cheese course, dessert and petit fours. Piège has a lot of gastronomic wit as well—highlights of my last meal here included a delicious deconstructed paella and chicken with Xérès vinegar, Parmesan and white truffle shavings. Service can be lackluster, but this dining room is quiet and comfortable, and a meal here is an appealingly off-beat experience.



79 rue Saint-Dominique (7e) Hôtel Thoumieux Paris Expensive

Anyone who is curious about the Milan fashion world might want to try this insider’s address popular with designers as well as journalists and photographers. They come for simple but delicious pizzas, Lombardian dishes, and fish, including a delicious grilled branzino (sea bass).

Via San Marco, 38 Milan US$70‎

This very popular café just up the street from Le Bon Marché department store can be a bit noisy, and sometimes the service is overwhelmed, but it offers an excellent taste of local life on the Left Bank. It serves some terrific Beaujolais by the glass, including a wonderful Morgon Vieilles Vignes. Many of the waiters speak English; the crowd is friendly and well-dressed; and the simple food (salads, sandwiches, steak tartare) is good. A fine bet for breakfast, a late lunch or tea, too.

51 rue du Cherche-Midi (6e) Paris

After cooking at Les Ambassadeurs at the Hotel de Crillon for several years, amiable chef Dominique Bouchet opened his own restaurant twelve years ago, and this dining room with exposed stone walls and contemporary art has since become one of my favorite restaurants in Paris. Bouchet is one of the most experienced chefs in town—he also cooked at Jamin in the days when it was run by Joel Robuchon (this restaurant survives, by the way, but is no longer worth a visit) and at La Tour d’Argent. This classical gastronomic history informs his terrific menu of impeccably well-executed traditional French dishes. Start with the crab-and-celery remoulade or the sautéed foie gras, and then sample macaroni stuffed with lobster, roast pigeon or a perfect filet of beef. Service is relaxed but precise, and the atmosphere is dressy but low key.

11 rue Treilhard (8e) Paris Expensive

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