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Spanish eatery tops table again

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LONDON, England (CNN) -- A restaurant in Spain has been named by an international panel of judges as the World's Best Restaurant for the second year running.

El Bulli, near Barcelona, claimed the top spot in this year's list of the 50 best places to eat, announced in London on Monday evening.

A panel of 651 judges from around the world reviewed restaurants in 70 different countries to compile this year's S. Pellegrino World's 50 Best Restaurant list.

El Bulli's success relegated The Fat Duck in Berkshire, England, to the number two place for the second time.

The two restaurants have similar approaches to food -- both are known for dishes that combine unusual ingredients using sophisticated scientific techniques.

El Bulli chef Ferran Adria is the brains behind the restaurant's menu. He travels for six months every year in a quest for gastronomic inspiration, then returns to his Barcelona laboratory where he experiments with new tastes, temperatures and textures.

His ground-breaking techniques have inspired other chefs throughout the world to experiment. The waiting list to eat at the restaurant is in excess of a year.

"Taste is not the only sense that can be stimulated: Touch can also be played with (contrasts of temperatures and textures), as well as smell, sight (colors, shapes, trompe d'oeil, etc.), whereby the five senses become one of the main points of reference in the creative cooking process," says the el Bulli Web site.

France has the highest number of top restaurants with 12 entries in the top-50 list -- up from 10 last year. Paris was the best city for food enthusiasts, with nine restaurants in the top 50, followed by London with six.

The United States has eight entries -- the second-highest number for any single country. Spain and Italy tie in fourth place with six entries apiece.

There was no change in the top six restaurants in the list compared to last year.

Noma, in Copenhagen, climbed the most spots from last year's list, coming in at 15th in 2007, up 18 spots compared to 2006.

By contrast, British celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay's restaurant, named after himself, dropped ten places to 24th.

Heston Blumenthal, of The Fat Duck, won this year's "chef's choice" award, voted for by chefs who appeared in the 2006 top 50 list.

The chef, whose restaurant menu has boasted dishes such as snail porridge and bacon and eggs ice-cream, said receiving the award was very humbling.

"This is fantastic. If someone had said to me 10 years ago I would be in the top 100 restaurants in the world I would have said it was amazing," Britain's Press Association reported.

Top 10 restaurants 2007

1. El Bulli, Spain (Best in Europe)

2. The Fat Duck, UK

3. Pierre Gagnaire, France

4. The French Laundry, USA (Best in the Americas) (Full story)

5. Tetsuya's, Australia (Best in Australasia)

6. Bras, France

7. Mugaritz, Spain

8. Le Louis XV, Monaco

9. Per Se, USA

10. Arzak, Spain

El Bulli in Spain is the world's best restaurant for the second year running.

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