Restaurants Visited…. Updated (Hoorah!)

I know I don’t update my restaurant page often, despite eating out quite a bit and travelling to eat. There are a combination of factors as to why, and one is the fact that I usually take a very large number of photos and if I’m away for a long period (like I was between April and July 2012), the number of restaurants I eat out at are many (happy problem) and the editing of photos starts to look more daunting. Eating out is a personal experience, one you would like to mull over for a while, sometimes. More often than not I am working while I travel, so these frivolous pursuits, while I’d love to share on the blog, and especially after all the energy sapping vigorous tweeting and instagram posts, drop even further down the list.

That said, I’ve been slowly updating this page. These are the restaurants I’ve enjoyed to bits and/or that I really wanted to try from the long lust list and have, finally.  I’ll update, as I delve into the note books (yes, I take notes). In no particular order, and across price points:

Holland

  • De Librije , Zwolle, Holland, Michelin 3 star- set in an old church run by husband wife team Jonnie and Therese de Boer are serving local produce, some of it grown and harvested themselves, with ultimate attention to detail. This was my first experience of dining at this level, internationally. Service is impeccable, the head waiter took time to shop with us at the de Librije store after he took us downstairs to meet the chef (without me arranging this in advance). We were glad to see some support for South African wines, and much respect for Paul Cluver. The bill, at just under € 500 for lunch for two (degustation menu), including one very ‘moderately’ priced bottle of wine set the tone of fear and fearful expectation for future eating adventures….and several store bought salads between episodes. Looking back, an experience worth paying for. Would go back in a heartbeat. A little bit of fun, a video on how the chefs make the famous edible joint (which we also had), made of hemp oil, pistachio, lemon and wild mint

Barcelona

  • Commerc 24, Barcelona, Michelin 1 star. Run by ex-Bulli chef Carles Abellan, this dark, hip restaurant, with bright yellow counters and chairs serves that form of Catalan cooking you’d expect from an ex-Adria trained chef. Precise, tweezered plating, local cuisine, predominately seafood. We were seated at a table with high bar stools, in front of the chefs, hunched over plates, deep in concentration as they applied leaves and herbs with tweezers. It was here that I first tasted finger lime from New Zealand. Little green cells of intense lime, looked like lime ‘caviar’ to me. Bill for dinner, including a few cocktails came to €250 for two (we chose the Festival degustation menu).
  • Tapac 24, Barcelona.  I ate dinner bites here twice in May this year, as it was opposite the hotel I stayed at for a girls’ weekend. It is also owned by Carles Albellan. It’s a small, below ground level, and tables go quickly unless you have a reservation. The tapas is good and not inexpensive. I have been marred by Adria’s tickets, everything is a comparison to that. I aslo ate one breakfast here- service is stiff, but a table on the pavement in summer (the ‘terrace’) is highly  desirable in Europe, as you know.
  • Sinc Sentis, Barcelona, Michelin 1 star. A word of advice, unless you can eat the way I can (paced, bites, in for the long haul) do not eat a big late tapas breakfast before attempting a tasting menu for lunch. Here or anywhere.  But, I survive to tell the tale. This family run restaurant, headed by self taught chef Jordi Artal is well known for serving fresh produce, showcasing the best of Catalan cooking, in a modern style. The plates are unfussy and service is excellent. The restaurant  is bright, small and and a little quiet – in that you’re forced to talk in hushed tones. This restaurant is always on the lists of “must try restaurants” in Barcelona. Degustation menu plus cava (and hey, in Spain you can drink exquisite cava inexpensively, even at top end restaurants) €220 for two.
  • Tickets Tapas Bar, Barcelona. Ferran Adria’s first project after closing el Bulli. I’ve been very lucky to have eaten here 3 times (in May 2011, Jan 2012 and September 2012). Yes, the menu has changed and still changes. The focus is on exquisite produce and the best suppliers. There is a element of molecular genius applied, you’re always offered the liquid olives first. In both January and September we accepted the manager’s offer to choose our menu and we just stopped him when we couldn’t have a bite more. You can read about the ambience and my first experience, where I met Adria here.  I met him again in September. Lightning, I guess. The online booking system is notoriously faulty. You are meant to be able to book a table every day from midnight for precisely 3 months from the date. Does not always work. I suggest you pray, weep and hope someone answers an email. I would say I hope they sort it out for their sake, but they are fully booked to the rafters I hear whenever I’ve chatted to the manager.  Find the Tickets site here
This is a video on Tickets and 41 when it was still just a cocktail bar concept:


 

  • 41 Experience, Barcelona. We visited this restaurant, attached to Tickets in May 2011 while it was still a bar serving exquisitely engineered (seriously, bar tenders do lunges to get the correct shake with some mixers. Et cetera) cocktails and el Bulli style snacks. It was later transformed into 41 Experience  in the same space but opened up for a few more diners. We ate here in January 2012 – 41 small plates, 7 paired with cocktails, a multi sensory experience (again after an 8 hour food tour….I have no idea where I get the stamina *stares jean zipper that won’t go up, in the eye*……..This restaurant deserves 2 Michelin stars at least. I assume it is a matter of time. The same story exists regarding booking as for Tickets above, except they only accept even numbers, in other words 2 or 4 or 6 guests. You can not come as a lone critic, for example. Read more about the concept here.
Girona
Click on the link to read my report.
Paris
  • La Chateaubriand, Paris – darling of new bistro dining scene and now number 15 on World’s 50 Best (9 in 2011). Hip, service is brisk, take what you get, no cooing over your allergies and intolerances. You’re given a menu, take it or, leave it and your seat will be swooped up in 3 seconds. We queued for a seat for an hour and a half from 9 pm as reservations were not possible. I sheepishly instagrammed a shot of the queue outside as testament to our developing virtue: patience. At 11pm there were still people at the bar waiting for a seat. 6 courses, €60 per person or €120 paired with wine. Contemporary wines without hefty price tags. Ours had a label, in gothic print that read: ‘French wine isn’t dead’. It matched with the hipster with the tattoo up his calf and the braces on his tweed shorts, at the table a hair’s breadth away from ours. Very French this- you sit as close to your neighbour as possible. 45 covers are made to fit in snug spaces. Highlight was a simple but completely unexpected pairing of fresh strawberries with Indian Mukhwas– the candy covered fennel seeds with other sweet little bits served at weddings or after meals. This is the anti-establishment restaurant extremely popular in Paris right now – bistro fare with flair but no frills, simple set-up and no hefty bills.
  • Fish la Boissonnerie, Paris – best meal of our stay in Paris in July 2012. And at €35 for three courses per person, one of the less expensive meals we’ve enjoyed in Europe. Our food guide managed to wangle us a table with her friend, the owner. Same concept – small, packed and very, very popular. Don’t let the tables of loud North Americans put you off, they love the area St Germain so would make sense they pop in. Locals love it too. Tip- the bakery opposite the restaurant belongs to it and makes the most amazing foccacia. Take some away for a picnic or dinner later if you’re there for lunch. You must at this point be reminded that the French would never buy bread after dinner to be used the next day. Bread is purchased twice a day; with so many excellent bakeries open till late, makes sense. Not done that way here, at all! A Japanese chef who understands flavour heads this operation. Portions on the large side, flavours are bang on the money. Not fine dining, but very good dining indeed.
  • Rino, Paris – the restaurant that the chefs and insiders recommend.  Two menus, one at €41, four courses per person and another €58 for 6 courses. The food was good but not memorable. I think this is because we had, at this point been on the road travelling and eating out for for almost 3 months, and our palates needed a rest. Pity. I will give it another shot, when we return.
  • La Comptoir, Paris – one of the few good restaurants where you can arrive for lunch without a booking. You can queue at noon or at 3pm when it quietens down. The proviso is that you need to be out by 5 30 pm before the dinner service starts. Had a lovely catch up here with my friend Linda who came down from London for a day. Attached next door is a standing-room only small bar. Look up at the ceiling and you see images of the tapas dishes you can order with a glass of organic wine, which is huge in Paris. Also, this little spot makes the best, high-end take away crepes, sweet and savoury. Linda and I shared a sweet one with nutella after our lunch at La Comptoir.
The following to be updated soon(ish)
  • Cal Pep, Barcelona
  • Kaiku, Barcelona
London
  • Mark Hix Bar, London
  • Dean Street Townhouse, London
  • Heston’s Dinner, London – yes, tried the meat fruit!
  • Cinnamon Club, London – Vivek Singh’s contemporary Indian cuisine. Very well priced.
  • Gelupo, Soho – finest fresh mint ice cream
  • Empress of Szechuan, London
  • Dishoom, London – huge, ‘cafe’ style modern Indian restaurant with no expense spared for the decor- traditional elements, a touch of kitsch but nothing cheap or  gaudy about this.  Two branches in London. Food ordered tapas style – bang on flavour, fresh, modern twists. Would return at least fortnightly if I could. Calls for the right company, of your closest people of course. 
  • Pasha, London
  • Canteen, London (John Torode)
  • Ottolenghi, Islington
  • St John’s Bakery
Rest of Spain
  • La Corniche, Hotel Trias, Palamos, Spain
  • La Torrada, Palamos, Spain
  • Compatir, Cadaques, Spain
  • Bell Port Restaurant, Palamos, Spain
  • Ilyas Bakery, Granada
  • La Borraja, Granadaincredibly good modern tapas.  Ate here twice, one a very long lunch.
Cape Town & Winelands
  • La Mouette, Sea Pointgem of Sea Point. Exquisite grand Victorian house, high calibre service and affordable fine dining tasting menus. A restaurant I do not visit as much as I would like to. Friends that I recommend the restaurant to are always thrilled. Click on the link for an older report.
  • Pot Luck Club, Cape Town – three visits, excellent Asian tapas. Awaiting new restaurant opening in Feb 2013
  • Test Kitchen
  • Tokara, Stellenbosch
  • Common Room, Franschhoek
  • Overture, Hidden Valley
  • Bread & Wine at Morrison, Franschhoek
  • Azure at 12 Apostles, Cape Town
  • Bistrot Bizerca, Cape Town 
  • Bird’s Cafe, Cape Town
  • Clarke’s Diner, Cape Town
  • 95 Keerom, Cape Town
  • Burrata, Cape Town
  • Massimo’s, Hout Bay
  • Aubergine, Cape Town
  • Anatoli, Cape Town
  • Haiku, Cape Town – one of my favourite dim sum and modern Asian restaurants, since 2006.
  • Nobu, Cape Town – have eaten here several times, the last being 23 November 2012. Click on the link to read about the dinner I ate with Nobusan himself present. Sushi, seafood with Asian flair unbeatable. Not cheap at R165 for a salad.That salad does contain lobster, baby spinach, dried miso, Parmesan & truffle oil though.
  • Caffe Milano
  • Cafe Paradiso
  • Hemelhuijs
  • La Boheme
  • Maharaja’s on Kloof
  • French Toast Wine, Cape Town
  • Orphanage, Cape Town
Warsaw
  • Atelier Amaro, Warsaw – lovely setting in a garden. 8 course vodka pairing, thank goodness I still have the notes from that very fun evening. 
  • Butchery and Wine, Warsaw
Monaco
  • La Salier, Monaco
Portugal
  • Yeatman Hotel, Oporto, 1 star Michelin
  • Fusion Sushi, Lisbon
  • Boka de Santo, Estrela, Lisbon – favourite homestyle eatery with Angolan touches
  • Casa de India, Lisbon
  • Ramiro, Lisbon
  • Sea Me, Lisbon
  • Alma, Lisbon
Athens
  • Tzitzikas kai Mermigas, Athens – inexpensive, great selection of meze, incredibly good spinach salad.
  • Strofi, Athens – incredible views of the Acropolis
  • Base Grill, Athens something different. Meat lover’s paradise. Meat and produce from local farms, home cured, sliced at table.
  • Meatropoleos 3, Athens – modern grill for souvlaki of a range of meats. Very hip.
Istanbul

New York City 

  • Gramercy Tavern
  • The River Cafe

 


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By | 2017-04-07T17:58:10+00:00 November 25th, 2012|Food, Food & Travel, Restaurants|4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. […] Tapas dinner: Adria brother’s Tickets Tapas Bar would be my top pick, though getting a table is very tricky.  Click on the link for more about my dining experiences there. Another favourite is Cal Pep – queue at 7 30 pm for the 8 pm opening. Portions are large and service rapid. The idea is to eat and leave, seats are filled on a rotation basis in this small bar-style restaurant. I recommend the crisp squid, clams, veal and potato and the quatro of mousse desserts. Click here to read about Tapac 24.  […]

  2. […]  You may like this list of Where to Eat in Paris […]

  3. […]  You may like this list of Where to Eat in Paris […]

  4. […] Tapas dinner: Adria brother’s Tickets Tapas Bar would be my top pick, though getting a table is very tricky.  Click on the link for more about my dining experiences there. Another favourite is Cal Pep – queue at 7 30 pm for the 8 pm opening. Portions are large and service rapid. The idea is to eat and leave, seats are filled on a rotation basis in this small bar-style restaurant. I recommend the crisp squid, clams, veal and potato and the quatro of mousse desserts. Click here to read about Tapac 24.  […]

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