This not a top ten list but a list of meals that I have really enjoyed and restaurants that I will return to many times. These are not all new restaurants. There are some old standards that produce brilliant meals every day. The list is in no particular order.
Superb Argentinian grilling and creative vegetable dishes at Tanto. I had my first grilled cabbage there and became an immediate groupie.
My Wonderful Kitchen
The most interesting and finest Chinese food I’ve had this year was at My Wonderful Kitchen. Their steamed fish is exceptional; everything is served with flair and the off-the-menu dishes ordered in advance are an adventurous treat.
Alobar and Aloette
Both owned and operated by Patrick Kriss, Alobar is a slightly more casual version of Alo with a French vibe. Chef Matthew Betsch is a master in the kitchen. The menu changes but every dish I have had there has been stimulating and exceptional. The eclairs were real winners. Aloette is much more casual as is the food. The menu features amongst other things, an outstanding hamburger as well as more complex dishes.
Once again, Chef Nuit Regular has a winning concept for both the restaurant and the menu. Lunches at Kiin are more street food-orientated while dinners are more formal. This is sophisticated Thai food.
A perennial on my list as the food and service never falters. Scaramouche is perfect for special events or just a sophisticated night out with perfect food and service. The pasta bar is more casual but with the same eye for detail.
I have never been a fan or liked much Mexican food but Queztal changed my mind. The bold flavors, the gorgeous colors on the platters, the intricate and layered flavours made me a believer from the first bite.
Pukka has been around for a number of years and when I look for a sophisticated Indian meal it is my go-to place. The dishes are prettily presented and the flavours are layered. The brisket with curry spices is a knockout as is the pumpkin curry. The wine list is well-chosen for the type of food
From my travels
Maido in Lima Peru is one of my all-time favourite restaurants. A cross between Peruvian and Japanese food, the tastes and texture were extraordinary and decadent. The presentation was outstanding. Put yourself in charge of your waiter to see what he comes up with. It was recently voted the number one restaurant in South America.
Breakfasts at the Villa Franca are flat out the best I have ever had. Each dish is freshly made with style and taste. Every pastry is specially prepared and everything is outstanding including the perfect service.
Dinner in their restaurant Li Galli is also superb and a huge upgrade from the formula restaurants dotting the beautiful coastline. Innovative but true to the roots of the area. I was intrigued with their dishes. Huge round dishes with small hollows, magnificent platters for seafood. A man proposed to his girlfriend at the next table, a very romantic restaurant.
A pasta class from Executive Chef Vincenzo Esposito
Chef Esposito offered to teach me the correct way to cook pasta and I quickly agreed. The class probably lasted 15 minutes because that was how long it took to prepare and cook the pasta and sauce. His motto: use only the finest ingredients. Excellent olive oil, good tomatoes, real Parmigiano Reggiano. This is a first course. Click here to see the recipe.
For good fish, go to Café Gandolfi which is the best fish place in Glasgow. Pristine fresh haddock and cod, scallops out of the lochs and those thick Scottish chips that are made with superb potatoes.
Ferris is a small, intimate restaurant in the basement of the Made hotel. It is so small and the tables are close enough together that it feels like a friend’s dinner party. Chef Greg Proechel makes innovative and interesting food. We loved the sweet potatoes that had a scattering of buttermilk and pumpkin mustard, the cote de boeuf sounded ordinary enough but it is anything but with its myriad garnishes. The food has real flavour and spice and it is reasonably priced.
We loved Le Coucou, a superb French restaurant lead by Chef Danny Rose who is behind several restaurants in Paris including Spring. Clean food, very new French cooking. Click here to see see his recipe for Bourride which he gave me when I was there.
My best meal was at Bestia: a huge multi regional Italian restaurant in the Art district with food that ranges from superb to spectacular. Husband and wife team Ori Menashe and Genevieve Gergis are behind the restaurant. Bestia features an industrial type design but softened with warm aspects like the copper bar and the extraordinary booth seating. Both families and foodies are customers. Pizzas, salads, pasta and dishes like slow-cooked lamb neck, where the meat literally fell off the bone. There’s something for everyone and it’s all beautifully cooked. Their new restaurant Bavel is the hottest ticket right now in L.A. and they have a new cookbook called Bestia.
Visit Otium, beside the Broad Museum (a must-see gallery in Los Angeles) for its design. It looks like a giant veil and allows all natural light inside to view the magnificent collection of post-war and contemporary art assembled by philanthropists Eli and Edythe Broad. The concept is a casual, social restaurant with lots of fun spaces and an open kitchen. It merges indoor and outdoor spaces. Chef Timothy Holligsworth creates a menu that will satisfy most people. Everything is very fresh local with a huge wood grill for fish and meat. He uses strong French techniques with very contemporary cooking. Brunch is casual and certainly not run-of-the-mill with dishes like khachapouri, the currently trendy Georgian bread, or Banh Mi with Porchetta. Click here to see a recipe for Sea Bass with Chowder and Belgian Endive from Otium.
Kissa Tanto in Vancouver is one of my go-to places there. It specializes in Japanese Italian cooking. Joel Watanabe cooks with his heart and his intelligence producing tantalizing dishes that tease your palate with flavour. Each dish is a discovery. Click here to see a recipe for carne cruda from Kissa Tanto.
Osteria Savio Volpe cooks some of the tastiest food in Vancouver. With its Italian concept it serves larger sharing plates, family style. Chef Mark Perrier has a sure hand in the kitchen. His Bagna Caude with vegetables is one of the tastiest dishes ever. I could drink the dip. Click here to see a recipe for kale salad from Osteria Savio Volpe.