The Monocle
Restaurant Awards 2016

The restaurants that normally win awards are obsessed with foam and dry ice but a great restaurant needs none of that. The winners of The Monocle Restaurant Awards are the ones that we find ourselves coming back to for their dishes, great chefs, old-school staff, lively manners and perfect dining rooms. All food here is guaranteed craze-free.

2016 Winners

Restaurant listings are too often unpalatably pompous affairs where novelty and pretentiousness are entertained as marks of quality or invention. Not ours. Monocle’s second annual Restaurant Awards commends the places that are consistently good for years and the up-and-comers that have the ingredients to be great restaurants for decades to come.

You won’t find foam, fuss, emulsion or mist on our dishes – nor steaks served on slates. Instead our itinerant editors and correspondents from London to Tokyo, Sydney to San Francisco (and beyond) have compiled a rundown of the best meals we’ve sampled this year.

Expect newcomers from Honolulu, Adelaide, Warsaw and Bangkok alongside a few stable stalwarts from last year’s honour roll. The menus at the best haunts veer from comfort food to regional specialities but each restaurant has a simple philosophy: that good service and honest ingredients will win out against the bluff and food fads.

Read on for more information on our top 10 and pick up a copy of The Escapist for the full 50.


Cignale Enoteca


Fans of Toshiji Tomori’s seven-seat restaurant in Gakugeidaigaku knew he was destined for bigger things – and so it has proved. Last year Tomori moved Cignale Enoteca to a new location in Matsumizaka, where he increased the space to 18 seats but retained the counter-style intimacy. The cooking is Italian with a touch of Chez Panisse; Tomori, who spent four years cooking in Italy, still makes everything from the bread and pasta to the limoncello. Quality ingredients are key and the changing menu might include such delights as roast Kinka pork with Italian summer truffles or marbled sole ceviche. A good dinner is guaranteed; a reservation, sadly, is not.

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The River Café


Ruth Rogers’ riverside haunt has been one of London’s finest restaurants since opening in 1987. What’s more, Rogers’ cookbooks, TV shows, Michelin star and great reviews haven’t changed the place. The specials are still scribbled in her signature cursive script and she treats the ingredients that arrive in her kitchen, which are prized for their flavour, with a gentle touch.

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Owner-chef Shin Harakawa’s (pictured) small bistro represents the best of Tokyo’s farm-to-table restaurants; he has worked in France and California and produces extraordinary yet unfussy meals. In recent months he has let Swedish-born Samuel Envall Utbult assume a leading role. An alumnus of Copenhagen’s Restaurant Relae, Envall Utbult turns out dishes that combine, say, sliced courgette with egg tartare, shiso and sansho (Japanese prickly ash). The arrangement is only temporary, with Harakawa expecting to close Beard to focus on a new Tokyo restaurant that he plans to open in winter. We’ll be sad to see last year’s winner go but keen to see the star chef’s next move.

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Marylebone’s quieter western reaches revealed a sumptuous secret to the world when this Japanese joint moved into an unassuming Edwardian townhouse in 2006. The restaurant is set over two floors, with a raw bar upstairs and moody 28-cover dining area below. Expect perfectly judged Japanese dishes made from fresh produce, including Cornish crab and Welsh Wagyu beef.

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PA&Co made a name for itself as a celebrity haunt in the 1990s but unlike most other places of that era, this Swedish-French bistro has remained a firm favourite ever since. The small marble-top tables and dark wood decor guarantee an intimate atmosphere. Regulars come for classics such as the potato rosti topped with Kalix caviar, dill, sour cream and red onion.

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Veranda at Bad Schörgau

South Tyrol

Gregor Wenter is the director of Bad Schörgau, a gourmet hotel in the Sarntal Valley of South Tyrol. The chalet-style sanctuary is home to two outstanding restaurants run by chef Egon Heiss and Wenter. The brasserie-style Veranda offers idyllic views of the valley and serves mouthwatering dishes such as entrecôte topped with parmesan, asparagus and summer truffles.

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The Apollo


Restaurants able to survive Sydney’s faddy food scene deserve credit and Apollo’s divine Greek food is the key to its immortal status. It opened in 2012 but feels like it’s been here longer. Curvy Thonet chairs come courtesy of designer George Livissianis but take it all in while you order; you’ll lose focus as soon as the roasted lamb with greek yoghurt and lemon arrives.

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Zum Schwarzen Kameel


Kameel (its local nickname; the full name translates as “the black camel”) has served Viennese diners for about 400 years – as good as unheard of in the restaurant industry. Affable owner Peter Friese has been here since 1977 and these days Kameel is most famous for its wine bar. In the adjacent dining room, Austrian classics are served in a more formal art nouveau setting.

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Tawlet sits at the end of a dusty road in Beirut’s Mar Mikhael neighbourhood and everything here has an enviable Lebanese panache. The restaurant is run by Kamal Mouzawak, the pioneer behind Souk el Tayeb, a farmers’ market that also acts as a venue to unite food producers from across the nation. Tawlet has a similar vibe: each day different producers take over the kitchen and cook their specialities with their own produce.

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Much has been written about this Zürich institution and much written in it: James Joyce penned a portion 
of Ulysses at a corner table. The food is earthy and focused on classics such as rosti pancakes and veal with morel mushrooms. Jacketed waiters serve the food while carts bearing domed dishes arrive table-side to lend your visit the gravitas it deserves.

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