The Monocle
Restaurant Awards 2019

Our fifth annual Restaurant Awards celebrate great drinking and dining without the foam, fuss and trickery.

What makes a good restaurant?

It’s a question that niggles at chefs, designers, diners and investors but one that’s yielded very little in the way of convincing answers. So, when we set out to launch our annual Restaurant Awards five years ago, we knew we needed to take a fresh approach. We were bored with the same clutch of starry chefs getting all the kudos and column inches for their ever grander (and less personal) restaurants and tasting menus.

What about the neighbourhood favourites that our editors actually visited when they were on assignment in Bangkok, Tokyo, Toronto and Los Angeles? We saw a niche for recommending restaurants to our readers and saw a wider goal of vaunting the work of chefs who might not make the lists you see in red-covered books monogrammed by the Michelin Man. This was also a good excuse to test all of our entries on several occasions (we always pick up the bill too). We only included what we consider to be classics – or places that we feel have the makings of becoming one.

So what makes a good restaurant? Let us show you to your table.

1477 Reichhalter

Lana, Italy

For a long time it wasn’t clear what would happen to this building in the heart of South Tyrolean Lana in northern Italy. What was a homely trattoria for more than 40 years has now been given a new lease of life by native Klaus Dissertori, whose stop-off scoops this year’s top place in our rankings.

It’s small even by local standards: there are eight rustic rooms that have been redone by Italian interior architect Christina von Berg (she’s opted for natural wood combined with modern touches). Martina and Andreas Heinisch are in charge of the food. There’s stellar homemade bread and jam for the à la carte breakfast, while traditional dishes are served at lunch and dinner.

This is a place in which to escape the daily grind and, thanks to nearby sister hotel Schwarzschmied, you can – and really should – make a weekend of it.

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The River Café


The River Café’s inclusion might not shock our regular readers (we’re in our fifth year of celebrating the Awards and it’s featured every time) but the consistency and charm of Ruth Rogers’ Hammersmith haunt is exactly what we set out to recognise. On a recent trip we found ourselves at a Thames-side table in the sun, enjoying platefuls of peerless primi and glugs of fine wine followed by Rogers’ feted chocolate nemesis dessert. Award well earned.

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Villa D’Este


The waiters set the tone for the dining experience at Veranda, the main restaurant at Villa d’Este – the grand hotel that graces a privileged slice of real estate on Lake Como. At lunchtime servers don cream-coloured jackets; at dinner they wear traditional black. The kitchen’s philosophy is classic with a splash of creativity. Mediterranean ceviche is prepared with fish that’s combined with the freshest seasonal fruits and aromas from the garden.

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This spot in Niederdorf has been a restaurant for a century but it’s the intervention of a lively young trio that’s made the difference. Nenad Mlinarevic, Valentin Diem and Patrick Schindler teamed up to create a fresh riff on all that stodgy Swiss goodness. The rye-wheat sourdough is a reason to visit in itself but save room. Expect reconsidered classics from pork belly to Aberdeen Angus entrecote.

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Appia changed Bangkok’s Italian dining scene when it opened in 2013, with chef and co-founder Paolo Vitaletti bringing his own brand of Roman cookery to the Thai capital. “It used to be a copy-and-paste of hotel Italian food,” he says. Homestyle cuisine is baked in at this cosy 50-seater trattoria in Sukhumvit, with almost half of the menu’s dishes originating in Vitaletti’s mother’s kitchen in Rome.

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