When it comes to art, sculptures, paintings, sketches and prints normally spring to mind. However, art comes in many guises, and plated dishes at top restaurants these days are often as much a feast for the eyes as they are for the taste buds.
This is an art form that takes a huge amount of patience and precision, resulting in fare that’s almost too lovely to eat. Here we salute a few international gastronomic artists and take a look at dishes that are edible masterpieces.
the test kitchen
If you are a South African and have not yet experienced one of Luke Dale-Roberts’ fine-dining masterpieces, we suggest you book a table at The Test Kitchen now. We are also incredibly proud that this Cape Town gem has been listed as one of the world’s 50 best restaurants multiple times. Looking at this artful fig dish with fig leaf ice cream, you can understand why.
Tom Aikens is a household name on the British dining scene. His menus focus on simple food served at their very best. Owning a number of restaurants and having written several cookbooks, he is a culinary genius, and we think this candied beetroot dessert with yogurt parfait, sweetened beets and port syrup is one of his most beautiful, imaginative creations.
How phenomenal does this pears and Maidenii (Australian vermouth) dessert look, especially in that pear-shaped dish? It’s a creation from Attica, which has cemented itself as a highlight on the food scene of Melbourne. If we could teleport ourselves right now, this would be our first stop.
Scandinavia is a destination we would love to visit, where the three kingdoms of Denmark, Norway and Sweden are making a name for themselves in the world of cuisine. Apart from the beautiful landscapes here, the availability of fresh produce and popularity of foraging make places like Noma in Copenhagen a food delight. The inventive plating and use of edible flowers in this pickled vegetables with pork and smoked marrow dish indicate the level of artfulness this eatery is known for.
Grace is based in Chicago, and its plated dishes are curated to wow eaters. The precision in the plating of food is something to admire and the addition of tiny, imaginative details is extraordinary. This dish – a combination of scallop, tamarind, smoke and flavours of liquorice – is just one of the most incredible creations we’ve seen in some time.
Los Angeles-based Kali always aims to delight its Melrose Avenue clients. This neatly nestled egg where the yolk and white appear to have been reversed looks like the most fascinating of starters.
This dish is a tour de force for the pescatarian, where each catch has its own little platform to showcase itself. If you feel the need to indulge in this masterpiece (as we do), be sure to visit n/naka in Los Angeles, which specialises in its own version of kaiseki (a traditional Japanese culinary art form).
eleven madison park
Eleven Madison Park already sounds swish. For New York-based restaurant Eleven Madison Park, artful plates that play with colour and form are de rigueur. This particular beauty features marjoram-roasted lamb with morel panna cotta and fava beans.
De Librije is a couple-run restaurant in the Netherlands, where the chefs culinary craft is truly exquisite. This dish features goose liver served with North Sea crab, almond, black olives and the juice of fermented red cabbage leaves. A rather unique combination of flavours that makes for a plate that’s a feast for they eyes.
Mugaritz is situated on the border of France and Spain, and is listed as one of the world’s 50 best places to eat. Again, like all the places we have shown, this intriguing restaurant’s creations are beautiful enough to want to frame and put on your wall.