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IanT

Favourite meals of 2018

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I haven't visited/posted in quite a while but do miss the food chat so am planning to visit more often. 

 

2018 marked the first year since 2012 in which we didn't have a baby to look after.  Our dining horizons broadened accordingly and it was a very strong year.  Another baby arrived early in 2019 so it will be slower!

 

My biggest take-away from the list is just how good Brooklyn Fare is.  This was my second visit and, strange to say for a restaurant with three stars from Michelin and four from the New York Times, it feels underrated.  It doesn't seem to get the recognition it deserves as one of the best restaurants in the world.

 

Mirazur is wonderful and I was delighted to see it get its third star.  Our meal at L'Ambroisie managed to exceed the memory of my first meal there 10 or so years ago.  Raby Hunt is maybe a name which won't be familiar to everyone, and it's quite a hike from pretty much anywhere, but served us our favourite meal in the UK in 2018.  In terms of style, it's closer to Brooklyn Fare than anything else on the list (it's a common style in Darlington...)

 

Eleven Madison Park, L'Enclume, Hide and Bibendum all slightly disappointing (for different reasons).  Sushi Ginza Onodera was even better than expected (whilst Sushi Yasuda seems to have dropped off quite a bit).  Bonhams will be missed.  Le Gavroche did exactly what you would expect/hope.  Barrafina is amazingly consistent and our pre-theatre standby (another thing we managed to do a lot more of in 2018). The Square was pretty bad.

 

1. Brooklyn Fare

2. L’Ambroisie

3. Mirazur

4. Raby Hunt

5. The Sportsman

6. The Ledbury

7. Sushi Ginza Onodera (NY)

8. Eleven Madison Park

9. Bonhams

10. L’Enclume

11. Le Gavroche

12. St John

13. Hide

14. The Nomad

15. Bibendum

 

Other notable meals: Le Cap, Barrafina, Noble Rot, Barbary, Brigadiers, Gymkhana, Keene's, Sushi Yasuda, The Square.

 

 

 

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A: Congratulations (and how the hell many kids do you have?)!

 

B;  Our next trip is to London/Paris, at the very beginning of April, all advice is welcome, and this list will be well used. Already have a res at St. John, since our meal there was so good and so much fun, as well as the way we (and certainly my wife) prefer to eat, as opposed to the 7 to 11 courses thing.

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Thanks!  We now have four kids (born in 2013, 2014, 2016 and 2019).  2018 really was a rare window of opportunity.

 

St John is almost always great.  It has a unique place in my heart/stomach.  When I was an overworked junior lawyer I would sometimes go and sit in the bar and just the smell of the baking would cheer me up.

 

I'm not so good on Paris advice as we generally just go for one short trip per year.  L'Ambroisie in 2018 was amazing, Le Cinq in 2017 was disappointing (not bad, but I had been looking forward to eating Le Squer's food for over 10 years and it didn't manage to meet those expectations).

 

Feel free to ask for advice on London and I will try to help!

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Thanks - you've already helped by posting that list.

 

We always like to take in a play/theatre - but from checking out what's on, nothing is calling our name.  Have you seen anything you loved? FWIW, last time we were in London, we saw Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf at the Pinter...and it was so great.

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The Lehman Trilogy will be a highlight but it does't open in the West End until May (and is already a very hot ticket).  We saw it in the National last year and it was pretty great.

 

Josie Rourke is directing Sweet Charity at the Donmar as her last play as Artistic Director.  That opens in early April.  It will probably be pretty great, and the Donmar is worth a visit if you've never been.  Comfortably my favourite theatre in London.

 

You're probably not going to want to see Hamilton in London?!

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our best meal in london in june--traveling with our own kids and so nothing remotely ambitious on the radar--was probably at tandoor chophouse. i might even get around to writing that meal up this month.

 

no high cuisine highs but lots of pleasurable meals in hong kong, bombay and delhi in december.

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it’s somehow been ten years but I strongly recommend the sportsman. you’d probably enjoy reading his book too.

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It’s a nice list, and it really is striking that Brooklyn Fare tops L’Ambroisie. Ian, have you been to Aska?

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No I haven’t been to Aska (or Blanca). I’m going to be in New York a couple of times in the first half of this year. Should I go?

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It’s a nice list, and it really is striking that Brooklyn Fare tops L’Ambroisie...

 

Brooklym Fare is, from all accounts (I haven't been), a remarkable restaurant. As you and I know, so is L'Ambroisie. I'm not terribly surprised that a single meal at one could be better than a single meal at the other. But, to riff on the ranking a bit, Brooklyn Fare, from what I know, is very modern - the entire restaurant is designed to showcase a long series of dishes by a singular talent from the length of the meal to the fact that, from what I've read, the meal is sequenced so that you can't be late and all dishes are served a the same time. 

 

Not that there's anything wrong with that - I like experiencing singular talents in an environment designed to allow them to perform at the top level with consistency - but it's not a thing that you can do as a regular, or more than a few times a year at a single place. I just had meals at Alo, a restaurant in Toronto that I love and Sneak is supposed to post about, and I found that two meals within a month was a bit fatiguing, which shouldn't be surprising given the small portions, numerous dishes and limited turnover within a few weeks. That said, the meal will still very good and error free, but there's a limit to how frequently you can dine this way.

 

L'Ambroisie is the exact opposite of this. There is a menu with choices, the meal can be as many or as few courses as you want, there is no "late" or "on time", the table is yours', they will modify things for you. L'Ambroisie is a restaurant as a restaurant and not as a performance. Again, there's nothing wrong with a restaurant as a performance, but it's also the case that perhaps the most remarkable thing about the great French haute cuisine restaurants is that they are able to produce food on the level that the SP type restaurants produce while still operating within a tradition that expects diners to at least sometimes choose their food. 

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Yeah I have to write about it, but I totally agree that more than two meals a month at Alo (which I loved) would be tiring (if even that much).

 

There's a reason Aska gets my vote as "the best" restaurant in New York, whereas Frenchette is where I go a couple of times a week.

 

I'll just toss out my perennial observation -- based mainly on my own personal experience and possibly not applicable to anyone else -- that SP style restaurants are more useful/appealing to visitors/tourists than to locals.

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