• AP File Photo

  • Travail Kitchen and Amusements

  • Haven

  • Marigold Kitchen

  • Atelier Crenn

Combining avant-garde cooking techniques with high-tech kitchen tools and a poetic sense of whimsy, molecular gastronomy is equal parts art and science. From deconstructed dishes to playful foams to smoky liquid nitrogen desserts, molecular chefs seek to explore food in a new light — experimenting with different forms, flavors and textures. While some dismiss it as mere trickery, in the hands of the greats, molecular gastronomy can elevate dishes to another dimension.

On our list of the best gastronomy restaurants in the country, you’ll discover some of the most creative kitchens in America pushing the boundaries of modern cuisine into exciting new territory. So bring your appetite and your open mind — and don’t be surprised if your salad comes out as a collection of colorful dollops.

  • 1. minibar by José Andrés - Washington, D.C.

    AP File Photo

    At minibar by José Andrés, patrons are treated to an avant-garde tasting menu of more than two dozen courses. Creative bites might range from Parmesan cupcakes to "Pizza José's Way" (a wafer-thin crust topped with burrata, caviar and truffles) to a "Rubber Ducky" meringue filled with foie gras ice cream.

  • 2. Travail Kitchen and Amusements - Robbinsdale, MN

    Travail Kitchen and Amusements

    Travail Kitchen and Amusements presents molecular-meets-Midwest fare. Expect creative dishes such as pork sausage sitting atop house-made “dirt”—a combination of ground porcini and chicharrón that really looks like soil. Dessert may be something like an apple cider treated to liquid nitrogen tableside, altering it from liquid to solid.

  • 3. Haven Miami - Beach, FL

    Haven

    Haven’s panoramic video walls transport patrons to another world with digital projections of artwork, clouds, city nightscapes and mountains. Chef Todd Erickson's small plates are good for sharing with molecular cocktails cooled by liquid nitrogen ice. Bacon ice cream is spot-frozen and surrounded by chemically created clouds for a trippy dessert.

  • 4. Marigold Kitchen - Philadephia, PA

    Marigold Kitchen

    Marigold Kitchen's focus is on eclectic American cuisine fashioned with locally sourced ingredients and a dash of snazzy molecular gastronomy. The 13- to 15-course tasting menu might offer dishes such as Backyard BBQ, which features frozen dots with the flavors of a summer salad, beef tartare standing in for a burger, and sautéed potato gnocchi representing potato salad.

  • 5. Atelier Crenn - San Francisco, CA

    Atelier Crenn

    In Dominique Crenn's fanciful San Francisco atelier, dishes are served bathed in bubbles, perched atop pristine logs, and in myriad unusual presentations that feel taken from a J. R. R. Tolkien novel. The seasonally inspired menu is presented as a poem, providing an emotional, whimsical element to the cuisine.

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