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In pictures: World's top 10 restaurants

Alinea, the avant-garde Chicago restaurant headed by chef Grant Achatz, was recently named the world's top restaurant in a new guide by Elite Traveler magazine. Here's some snaps showing how you could expect to be fed, and comforted, at the ten restaurants around the world most celebrated by their diners.

1. Alinea (Chicago, US)

Opened in 2005 by "progressive" chef Grant Achatz, Alinea has received a host of accolades (and three Michelin stars) for its playful take on American cuisine. A coffee-table book published in 2008 shows off its deconstructed classics, featuring over 600 photographs of the hypermodern dishes and behind-the-scenes culinary processes.

2. The Fat Duck (Bray, UK)

Credit: Dominic-Davies

Self-taught chef Heston Blumenthal opened his first restaurant inside a 450-year-old pub in a small village on the River Thames. Since 1995, The Fat Duck has pushed gastronomy to its weirdest and most wonderful sensorial boundaries. Its alchemist chef delights lucky diners and TV viewers alike.

3. Per Se (New York, US)

Per Se, Thomas Keller's cuisine francaise restaurant on Columbus Circle in Manhattan, has been deemed an "urban interpretation" of his much lauded French Laundry in the Napa Valley, California.

4. Pierre Gagnaire (Paris, France)

A modern flavour palette from across the globe and innovative presentation techniques draw diners to Pierre Gagnaire's eponymous restaurant.

5. Daniel (New York, US)

Credit: T Shauer

Leading a team of 30 cooks, chef Daniel Boulud offers one of New York's most sumptuous dining experiences in his Upper East Side eaterie.

6. Le Bernardin (New York, US)

Credit: Lyn Hughes

Le Bernardin serves innovative seafood dishes by Eric Ripert, with wine offered by Aldo Sohm, voted Best Sommelier in the World in 2008.

7. El Celler de Can Roca (Girona, Spain)

Catalan cuisine from the three Roca brothers—Joan, Jordi and Josep.

8. Le Louis XV (Monte Carlo, Monaco)

Credit: Alain Ducasse

Le Louis XV's celebrated Mediterranean haute cuisine has garnered it membership to Les Grandes Tables du Monde and the distinction of being the world's first hotel restaurant to hold three Michelin stars.

9. Mugaritz (Gipuzkoa, Spain)

High-tech, modern Basque cuisine by Andoni Luis Aduriz.

10. Hof Van Cleve (Brussels, Belgium)

Belgium's most celebrated restaurant, deep in the Flanders countryside.


Elite Traveler gathered the views of high net worth individuals to produce its World's Top 100 Restaurants guide.

The US is the country with most restaurants in the top 100, with 20 entries, followed by France with 18 and the UK with 15.

Elite Traveler's Simon Hodson said of the guide:

We wanted to discover the restaurants most enjoyed by high net worths, as these are the people who have the world's best dining at their fingertips.

Alice Gribbin is a Teaching-Writing Fellow at the Iowa Writers' Workshop. She was formerly the editorial assistant at the New Statesman.

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Sunjeev Sahota’s The Year of the Runaways: a subtle study of “economic migration”

Sahota’s Man Booker-shortlisted novel goes to places we would all rather not think about.

This summer’s crisis has reinforced the ­distinction that is often made between refugees, who deserve sanctuary because they are fleeing from conflict, and “economic migrants”, those coming to Europe in pursuit of “the good life”, who must be repelled at any cost. The entire bureaucratic and punitive capacity of our immigration system is pitted against these ne’er-do-wells and their impudent aspirations.

Sunjeev Sahota’s fine second novel, The Year of the Runaways, now shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, takes a closer look at “economic migration”. Why do people – many of them educated, from loving families in peaceful communities – leave their old lives behind and come to Britain? Are they fleeing desperate circumstances or are they on the make? When they arrive here, do they find what they were looking for? Should we welcome them, or try to persuade them to stay at home? The book illuminates all of these questions while, much to its credit, offering no simple answers.

Sahota interweaves the stories of three people whose reasons for emigrating are as individual as they are. Both Avtar and Randeep are from Indian Sikh families that might be characterised as lower-middle-class. Avtar’s father has his own small business – a shawl shop – and Randeep’s father works for the government. Both boys are educated and Avtar, in particular, is smart and motivated. But with employment hard to come by and no social security net to fall back on, it doesn’t take much to make leaving the country seem like the only option. Avtar loses his job, his father’s business is failing and he has high hopes of earning enough to marry Lakhpreet, his girlfriend-on-the-sly. Randeep’s family’s finances fall apart after his father has a psychological breakdown; their only hope of maintaining a respectable lifestyle is for their eldest son to take his chances abroad.

For Tochi, the situation is very different. He is what used to be called an “untouchable” and, although people now use euphemisms (“scheduled”, or chamaar), the taboo remains as strong as ever. He comes to Britain not so much for financial reasons – although he is the poorest of the lot – but to escape the prejudice that killed his father, mother and pregnant sister.

Tying these disparate stories together is the book’s most intriguing character, Narinder, a British Sikh woman who comes to believe that it is her spiritual calling to rescue a desperate Indian by “visa marriage”. Narinder’s progress, from the very limited horizons for an obedient young woman to a greater sense of herself as an active participant in her destiny, reminded me of Nazneen, the protagonist in Monica Ali’s Brick Lane. But Narinder is a more thoughtful character and here the Hollywood-style journey of personal liberation is tempered by a recognition of the powerful bonds of tradition and family.

Once in Britain, Avtar, Randeep and Tochi enter a world of gangmasters, slum accommodation and zero job security, with an ever-present fear of “raids” by immigration officers. They work in fried chicken shops, down sewers, on building sites and cleaning nightclubs. Health care is off-limits for fear of immigration checks. Food is basic and the only charity comes from the gurdwara, or Sikh temple, which provides help in emergencies.

Avtar and Randeep struggle to send money back home while living in poverty and squalor that their families could barely imagine (at one point, Randeep notes with understandable bitterness that his mother has used his hard-earned contributions to buy herself a string of pearls). In the meantime, their desperation leads them to increasingly morally repellent behaviour, from selfishness to stealing and worse. Even if they do eventually find a measure of economic stability in Britain, they have done so at the cost of their better selves.

It has been pointed out that the novels on the Man Booker shortlist this year are even more depressing than usual and The Year of the Runaways certainly won’t have raised the laugh count. At times I had to put it down for a while, overwhelmed by tragedy after tragedy. It was the quality of Sahota’s prose and perceptions that brought me back. He is a wonderfully subtle writer who makes what he leaves unsaid as important as the words on the page. A wise and compassionate observer of humanity, he has gone to some dark places – places we would all rather not think about – to bring us this book. Whether we are prepared to extend a measure of his wisdom and compassion to real immigrants, in the real world, is another question.

“The Year of the Runaways” by Sunjeev Sahota is published by Picador (480pp, £14.99)

Alice O'Keeffe is an award-winning journalist and former arts editor of the New Statesman. She now works as a freelance writer and looks after two young children. You can find her on Twitter as @AliceOKeeffe.

This article first appeared in the 08 October 2015 issue of the New Statesman, Putin vs Isis