Mr Porter Eats
The Restaurants With The Best Views In The World
Dining rooms where the food is as good as the scenery
Hotel Terminal Neige, Montenvers, Chamonix. Photograph courtesy of Terminal Neige
Are we in danger of never looking up again? Sometimes it’s possible to believe, as one navigates pavements, shops and restaurants full of people gazing down at their phones. But taking in our surroundings is both essential – who wants to walk into the path of an oncoming bus? – and pleasurable; nowhere more so than when eating out.
After all, the experience begins with sight, then smell, before taste. And it needn’t be a cerulean-sky-meets-indigo-sea beach scene, either. Some of London’s best restaurant views, for instance, are the comfortingly dainty walled garden around Rochelle Canteen in Shoreditch or the crane-crazed sites seen from The Conduit’s rooftop.
All of the world’s great cities have restaurants in their tallest buildings; that’s a given. Just as canny entrepreneurs place their hotels in places with access to many of the most spectacular coastal and countryside vistas. But it’s where the sight on the plate is as mouth-watering as the sight out of the window is jaw-dropping that’s really special. Here are seven of the best venues that tick both boxes.
01. The Barcelona Edition, Spain
Photograph courtesy of The Barcelona Edition
Barcelona isn’t really like other cities, and neither are most of its vantage points – think of the tiny, terrifying spires of the Sagrada Família or frankly bonkers wavy rooftop spaces, both designed by Mr Antonio Gaudí. Then there’s Mr Frank Gehry’s giant “fish” sculpture, visible from miles away. The city also has no shortage of stylish hotels, many with rooftop pools and suchlike, but new arrival from Mr Ian Schrager and Marriott, The Barcelona Edition, has that elusive quality: buzz.
Up on the roof 10 storeys up, the restaurant, known as, er, The Roof, is a showstopper. You can see the sea from its brilliant El Born location and the city’s punctuation-point high-rises, but also down to the eye-popping curved roofs of the Santa Caterina Market next door. And the Asia-inspired sharing plates you can eat up there, such as truffle, cheese and mushroom tacos, are as fresh as the produce below. Best of all, The Roof has wraparound glass walls, meaning you can eat, drink and be fabulous all year round.
What to wear
02. Rockhouse Hotel, Jamaica
Photograph courtesy of Rockhouse
Infinitely more interesting than a flat, white-sand expanse is the seafront location of Rockhouse, in Negril, Jamaica – it’s called Pristine Cove for a reason. The hotel, set on the volcanic rocks that fringe the ocean, is run with an ethos to protect its stunning ecosystem, and the sense of being in a less pedestrian setting is heightened when you eat at the restaurant.
Teetering on the edge of the property, it serves haute versions of Jamaican home cooking and has its own organic garden to supply produce. The fish and seafood? Well, it’s not hard to see where that comes from.
Rockhouse has been a draw since the 1970s when Mr Bob Marley visited, but it’s in the past 20 years, since an environmentally aware group of Australians took over, that this very special location has really come into its own. To eat here, gazing out to the endless horizon while waves lap the cliffs below, as they have for millennia, is quite something.
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03. Delaire Graff, South Africa
Photograph courtesy of Relais & Châteaux
“Verdant” doesn’t do justice to the scene surrounding the restaurant at the Delaire Graff Estate in Stellenbosch. The vineyards stretch in serried ranks towards a dramatic peak in the distance, and to eat in the signature restaurant (not too shabby on the inside, thanks to a David Collins Studio design) is to see clear across the Banhoek Valley.
Of course the wine is phenomenal and the elevated bistro menu at the hotel showcases the produce that makes this part of South Africa so abundantly delicious. In fact, many of the fruit and vegetables are from the estate itself. This includes olives, so you can see the groves as you taste them while dining out on the terrace.
Delaire Graff is owned by Mr Laurence Graff, the renowned billionaire founder of Graff Diamonds, so he knows a thing or two about how to dazzle, and this is a restaurant that does just that. Oh, and if you want to avert your gaze from the distant to the near, Mr Vladimir Tretchikoff’s inimitable “Chinese Girl” painting is on display here, too.
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04. Blue Hill At Stone Barns, US
Photograph by Ms Ingrid Hofstra, courtesy of Blue Hill at Stone Barns
Sometimes the view and the food are the same thing – certainly at Mr Dan Barber’s globally recognised farm in Upstate New York. Blue Hill At Stone Barns showcases the chef’s obsessively fastidious approach to fresh produce and the preservation of heritage crops. To dine at Blue Hills, if you can get a reservation, is to walk through the fields to arrive at the deceptively rustic restaurant. The private dining room has a particularly stunning view out to the herb garden.
If you’ve watched Mr Barber’s edition of Chef’s Table, the bucolic scenes on the farm in the Pocantico Hills will be familiar, but nothing can prepare diners for the sheer joy of hearing the snap of the plants being harvested to appear on plates just minutes later. There is no menu, just the knowledge that whatever looks and tastes best outside will come in, and every edible part of every element, too. Mr Barber’s other passion is eliminating food waste.
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05. Elephant Hill, New Zealand
Photograph courtesy of Elephant Hill
If you know about wine, Hawke’s Bay will be familiar. Some spectacular syrahs, pinot noirs and sauvignon blancs come from this cool, extravagantly luscious region. At Elephant Hill, the vineyards do their best to dominate, but really, it’s hard to pinpoint which part of the view is the best because beyond the vines lies the Pacific Ocean, lending the estate’s restaurant a pretty strong wow factor.
The estate, set on the evocatively named Kidnapper Cliffs, is in an architecturally inventive low-impact building with, ironically, really high visual impact, not least because of the pre-aged copper cladding that gives it a distinctive blue hue. Diners can eat wagyu beef in the light-flooded room or on the terrace with its expansive reflecting pool. It may be remote, but with those views to drink in, as well as the estate’s very special wines, one should expect to linger.
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06. Mikla Restaurant, Turkey
Photograph courtesy of Mikla
Where better to see the raw energy and geographic and psychological schism that is Istanbul, than from a rooftop? Mikla is a new-generation Anatolian restaurant headed by chef Mr Mehmet Gürs, showcasing Turkish cuisine but with a sensibility informed by such places as Noma (the chef was born in Scandinavia). Order the octopus.
Its 18th-floor location within The Marmara Pera hotel gives it an outward impact as strong as the food. And since this is Istanbul’s most buzzworthy restaurant, the other diners and drinkers are really, really into food.
Before or after dining inside, going up to the restaurant’s rooftop “flying carpet” terrace is essential, as the wraparound views of the city are showstoppers – the Bosphorus snakes past, dividing Europe from Asia. Talking of heights, Mikla currently sits at number 44 on The World’s 50 Best Restaurants, and with the level and inventiveness of the cooking, can only go higher.
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07. Terminal Neige Refuge Du Montenvers, France
Photograph courtesy of Terminal Neige
Think you know about eating at a ski resort? Think again. Raclette and beers among the gently steaming piste monsters is not what Montenvers restaurant is all about. It sits within the Hotel Terminal Neige nearly 2,000m above sea level and yes, there’s fondue, but expect cheeses of mind-blowing quality and dishes such as snail cassoulet, too. There is finesse in everything, from morning coffee to late-night digestifs gazing out at the inky blackness of the landscape. “Imposing” doesn’t quite cover it.
The view is of towering mountains either side and a wide valley below that is as sensational when the snow recedes as when it’s dazzling white. You reach it via train from Chamonix, and the glacier unfolds its majesty as you approach. Bring bags of energy for walks if you’re lunching – the trails are stunning – and your very latest photography app; Montenvers is worth it.