The new list of the top 50 restaurants in the world was released yesterday and really there were no surprises.

Organised by Restaurant magazine and judged by 800 industry specialists, this list is not only the most anticipated, but the most lucrative of lists to head up as a restaurant. For many years El Bulli topped the bill and now Noma has taken over as the one to beat.

Whilst I haven’t been to many on there, I am told that getting on this list makes a big difference to the bookings. Once you have made it here you are guaranteed full tables and thus commercial success for your restaurant. So I always try and see who it is that makes the list and what I can conclude about the restaurant world as a result.

Obviously I look at the UK first and was delighted to see Heston’s Dinner charge into 9th spot as the highest new entry, with the Fat Duck falling back out of the top ten to number 13 (lucky for some!). There is no doubt that the Fat Duck experience is one that I shall remember for a long time but the truth is that the Dinner meal was much easier to relish. The food was outstanding and yes, you absolutely have to have the Meat Fruit, but I suggest you half and half with someone having the Rice & Flesh.

Meat Fruit: stunning

I am also kicking myself for not forcing my friends to join me at The Ledbury before it achieved the highest climber award rising 20 spots to number 14. Now it will be impossible to get a table. Ever since the team fought off the onslaught of unruly rebels during the London riots, I have had a desire to support the Ledbury lot.

In terms of other observations much is the same as last year with USA, France and Spain dominating. The US now boast eight restaurants in the top 50 just beating the French who have 7, although it must be said that France do not have any listed in the top 10. The contenders to the US for top ten position goes to Spain and that is no surprise to me. This is my top choice for places to eat and I was especially glad to see Elena Arzak awarded world’s best female chef after her Dad got the lifetime achievement award in 2011. Incidentally this went to Thomas Keller this year. His record speaks for itself.

Other observations are the continued presence of the South American countries with Brazil, Mexico and Peru in the top 50 along with a spotlight on Peru for the Regional spotlight article. On the other hand Finland, South Africa and Russia all fell out of the top 50. I am particularly sad about South Africa as a big supporter of theirs, although I was pleased for The Test Kitchen which came in at number 74 and is fully deserved (see my earlier blog for more details).

A drizzly day couldn't dampen our spirits at Stone Barns farm

It is incredible what these Blue Hill guys are doing with the good old vegetable.

I also want to make special mention of Blue Hill at Stone Barns which is at number 77. We went there at the end of last year and it was possibly the best meal I have ever had. I think it was the overall experience that makes me say that. Robert the concierge was our charming host touring us through the drizzle around the farm for a couple of hours. We were mesmerised by the whole operation. Nothing was left to chance with vegetable varieties being developed with amazing integrity and passion. I have never before been taken through the ins and outs of the composting system or indeed the charcoal process before a meal but having done that, we really appreciated the whole meal on a much broader level. Never has a raw vegetable tasted so good and never has a table been so well served.

Course one of 27 having chosen the 12 course menu! Never has a carrot tasted so good

The top restaurant list is indeed fascinating and a chance to fantasise about where I might like to eat this year. But the truth is that this sort of food is such a special treat that it is a rare thing for me to be able to indulge in. I still desire a trip to Spain and the Asador Etxebarri food. Maybe this year I can pull it off.

In the meantime, let me know what you think and where you want to go. I am always up for a great meal.