The inaugural World Restaurant Awards took place in Paris yesterday evening, with just one UK restaurant scooping an award.
The UK winner was London’s Noble Rot, a popular wine bar and restaurant in Bloomsbury, which is well-known among oenophiles and regularly features on the Instagram of Sunday Times restaurant critic Marina O’Loughlin. The restaurant scooped a win in the Red-Wine Serving Restaurants category, fighting off competition from the likes of Le Baratin in Paris, and Roscioli in Rome.
The Noble Rot team accept their award
The category is part of the ceremony’s ‘Small Plate’ section, which handed out six light-hearted accolades, including a win for Michelin-starred chef Alain Ducasse as the ‘Tattoo-free chef of the year’.
Although Noble Rot’s award was not part of the more prestigious ‘Big Plates’ section, its victory is still important, highlighting that London is a breeding ground for fantastic wine lists (and restaurants). When revealing the win, the judges praised Noble Rot for being a “driving force in making wine bars cool again.”
The stunning views from Restaurant of the Year Wolfgat, in South Africa
The all-important Restaurant of the Year award went to South Africa’s Wolfgat, a 20-cover spot which serves a menu of fresh seafood and heavily relies on ingredients foraged from the Western Cape. The restaurant also won the ‘Off-Map Destination’ category, owing to its remote location.
The ceremony was also notable because these are the first international restaurant awards to implement a gender-balanced judging panel and inspection team. Cecile Rebbot, director of The World Restaurant Awards, said: “We knew that having an equal number of men and women judging a restaurant awards was not going to change the composition of the restaurant industry overnight. But by giving women an equal voice in the awards we can start to make more meaningful change over time.”
For the full list of winners, see below:
Restaurant of the Year: Wolfgat (Paternoster, South Africa)
Arrival of the Year: Inua (Tokyo, Japan)
Atmosphere: Vespertine (Los Angeles, United States)
Collaboration of the year: Paradiso X Gortnanain (Cork, Ireland)
Enduring classic: La Mère Brazier (Lyon, France)
Ethical thinking: Refettorio (Food For Soul) (Various locations, Italy)
Event of the year: Refugee Food Festival (Paris, France, and worldwide)
Forward drinking: Mugaritz (San Sebastian, Spain)
House special: Lido 84 (Cacio e Pepe) (Lombardy, Italy)
No-reservation required: Mocot (São Paulo, Brazil)
Off-map destination: Wolfgat (Paternoster, South Africa)
Original thinking: Le Clerence (Paris, France)
Red-wine serving restaurant: Noble Rot (London, United Kingdom)
Tattoo-free chef of the year: Alain Ducasse (Paris, France)
Tweezer-free kitchen: Bo.Lan (Bangkok, Thailand)
Trolley of the year: Ballymaloe House (Cork, Ireland)
Instagram account: Alain Passard (Paris, France)
Long-form journalist: Lisa Abend (The Food Circus, Fool Magazine)
Noble Rot isn't the only great restaurant in the capital for wine. Check out our pick of London's best wine bars.