Continuing his slow climb to the top of the heap, Chicago chef Grant Achatz had more than just his birthday to celebrate here last night. Alinea was named the 7th best restaurant in the world, and the best in North America, at the San Pellegrino World's 50 Best Restaurant Awards. The award is bittersweet for Achatz, who leapfrogged his mentor - Thomas Keller (The French Laundry, Per Se) - into the top spot for North American restaurants. "He's a dear friend, and I wouldn't be where I am now if it weren't for him," said Achatz. "Don't get me wrong, I'm glad we're considered the best in the country, but I want him to have that as well. He's always been very supportive, he's like a father to me."
The U.S. had a very impressive showing this year, but no surprise, most of the winners came from New York City. There were some new entries, such as Danny Meyer's 11 Madison Park (#50); also returning ones, like wd-50 and Momofuku Ssam Bar. Le Bernardin settled in at an impressive #15, while Keller's Per Se (#10) and Daniel (#8) cracked the top 10. The evening's biggest upset happened at the top: Copenhagen's Noma finally knocked Spain's El Bulli off for the number one position, moving El Bulli to number two, with the UK's Fat Duck coming in at number three.
Other U.S. restaurants placing in the top 100 include: Chez Panisse (Berkeley), Jean Georges (NYC), Manresa (Los Gatos, CA) and Masa (NYC).