37 Favourite Meals
I have been very fortunate on my recent six-month world tour to eat at some amazing restaurants. These are the ones that had greatest impact and gave me the most pleasure.
1. Boragó, Santiago, Chile
I still think about this meal a lot and I keep remembering fresh details or flavours or feelings. It was that kind of experience. Several of the dishes – the layers, the BBQ lamb, the beeswax duck – were just phenomenal. Santiago is a fantastic city and Boragó is one of the best reasons for you to visit.
2. Attica, Melbourne, Australia
Our evening at Attica was absolutely sensational. It wasn’t just that the food was good, the whole atmosphere created, the consideration and narrative building that went into every ingredient of every dish, the huge sense of fun and play, all came together to create a dining experience like no other.
3. Amaru, Melbourne, Australia
Amaru has the distinction of having scored our third ever 20/20. Everything about that stellar Friday lunchtime visit was delivered with incredible balance and harmony. I wish it were my local restaurant.
4. Enrico Bartolini, Milan, Italy
I didn’t really know what to expect from Enrico Bartolini’s artistic 2 Michelin star restaurant on the top floor of Milan’s Mudec. What I found was a seasonally-driven, luxurious masterpiece of a place. Next time you need a serious treat, this is the place to head.
5. Pasture, Auckland, New Zealand
Auckland’s Pasture was comfortably the best restaurant I dined at in New Zealand. Husband and wife team Ed and Laura are two of the most compelling food evangelists you’ll find anywhere in the world.
6. Arpège, Paris, France
The parade of vegetable excellence at Arpège was completely sublime. The onion gratin, the hot cold egg, the celerisotto were all totally outstanding. A once in a lifetime experience due to extremely high price but worth it for the food you’ll adore and the stories about it you will tell.
7. Gaggan at Pujol, Mexico City, Mexico
In some ways this was the highlight of the whole trip as incredible fortune took me to the table of two of the world’s finest chefs cooking a one-off collaboration menu. But although it was other wordly, in some ways it’s unfair to consider this experience in quite the same way as the other restaurants listed where teams have slaved to build the entirety of their offering into a beautifully coherent whole. But having said that, this was as good a meal as you’re likely to ever find.
8. Bæst, Copenhagen, Denmark
This was the first ‘big’ meal of the trip and it was an absolute belter. Bæst is just such a joyful place to eat your dinner. With so much of what they serve produced onsite and/or on their nearby farm, theirs is a model other places should be looking at and considering. What’s more they serve some of the best pizza I’ve eaten anywhere in the world.
9. Bresca, Washington DC, USA
Bresca was the standout meal from my time in the States. The foie gras with waffles, complete with goose feet plating, was an absolute marvel and their cocktails superb.
10. Astrid y Gaston, Lima, Peru
I wasn’t in particularly good health during my time in Lima, but I managed to hold my shit together – all too literally – long enough to enjoy a stellar lunch at Astrid y Gaston. The restaurant has been open for over twenty years but still feels fresh, innovative and so very stylish.
11. Les Apothicaires, Lyon, France
Lyon has much Michelin excellence and the grandeur of the Paul Bocuse legacy. Although firmly from the Bocuse tradition, Les Apothicaires flies a little below the radar with their seasonally-driven flavour-packed set menu wowing guests each evening. Their low-key approach in pared-back surroundings hit the sweet-spot with me.
12. Les Amis, Singapore, Singapore
There remains an enduring worldwide obsession with French haute cuisine and it’s illustrated no better than at Les Amis, a Singapore restaurant that is going as far as importing their butter direct from Normandie. How sensible/viable this approach remains is up for debate. However, the food and particularly the service at Les Amis was absolutely outstanding.
13. Mère Brazier, Lyon, France
Mère Brazier served me a meal so similar in style, quality and even some of the dishes to the one I had at Les Amis that it’s hard to split them. For a defining experience of French and Lyonnais cuisine, this is the place to go.
14. Osteria Ilaria, Melbourne, Australia
Ilaria sticks in the mind as much for the exceptionally innovative drinks pairings as it does for the fantastic food. Having said that, the grilled baby octopus was as good a single dish as I was served in the entire trip and their pasta was sublime. It’s one of many must-visits in Melbourne.
15. Publiek, Gent, Belgium
Gent is just such a fabulous city with some outstanding restaurants several of which feature on this list. Publiek served me my favourite meal with really splendid seasonally-driven dishes and matched drinks.
16. Oak, Charleston, USA
Steak! Oak is as good as you’ll find in terms of meaty excellence. I loved Charleston so much and my mealat Oak was the highlight among many highlights.
17. Franklin, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia
Hobart completely captured my heart and my dinner at Franklin was a big part of the huge fun I had while in town. Analiese Gregory and her team are just a complete joy to be fed and watered by.
18. Restaurant Tim Raue, Berlin, Germany
It was a joy to stumble upon Restaurant Tim Raue and it many ways it signalled the start of a fairly serious exploration of fine dining places around the world. While I struggled with some of the presentation, it was hard to argue with the quality of Raue’s power-packed fusion of Asian flavours.
19. Simone, Los Angeles, USA
In LA’s up-and-coming Arts District, Simone has firmly established itself as one of the city’s hottest tickets. Dishes are a riot of colour and flavour, with their cocktail bar, Duello, offering excellent pre and post-dinner drinks.
Vrijmoed lived up to its 2 star billing with an excellent lunch. One of the best restaurants I visited in the formal, white-tablecloth style, chef Michael Vrijmoed is producing dishes that are high on creativity and careful incorporation of unusual and innovative ingredients.
21. Rita, Wellington, New Zealand
Wellington’s Rita was just so warm and friendly with dishes of real class to match. If you’re looking for a big hug of a meal, this is the place for you.
22. The Broken Tulip, Richmond, USA
Apart from being a pal, David Crabtree Logan is one of my favourite chefs. It was a complete thrill to see him working alongside Sariann Lehrer to such good effect in their lovely restaurant in Richmond, Virginia. The husband and wife team’s commitment to local sourcing means they’ve built a fabulous ecosystem around the business with some incredible produce at the heart of the excellent meal I had there.
23. Bar Liberty, Melbourne, Australia
Bar Liberty got me good and drunk while serving me some creative and deeply satisfying dishes. It’s just such a very cool place to spend an evening and has one of the most accessible and amusingly written wine lists you’ll ever find.
24. Soigné, Seoul, South Korea
Chef Jun Lee is at the forefront of Seoul’s fresh and innovative fine dining seen, seeking to cast new light on the historic ingredients and guiding principle of Korean cuisine that have been lost on a mass of neon and super-speed WiFi. At Soigné you step both back into the past and beyond to the future while your present is given a damn tasty feed.
25. Meta, Singapore, Singapore
Singapore’s Meta had me from the get-go with knockout amuse bouche snacks and kept up the momentum with some truly excellent dishes delievered by an energetic and highly gifted kitchen team.
26. Oak, Gent, Belgium
A restaurant named Oak makes its second appaearance on the list. Oak in Gent is a different prospect from the one in Charleston with a focus on some outstanding local produce including majestic handling of local seafood. Their scallop starter was one of the single-dish highlights of my trip.
27. Maha, Melbourne, Australia
Maha doesn’t seem to get quite the level of adulation as some of its Melbourne neighbours but Shane Delia’s middle eastern fusion restaurant was really knocking it out of the park when I visited. The complexity of flavours they had to balance, particularly when paired drinks came into the picture, was hugely impressive.
28. Chila, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Chila was a fresh and highly imaginative meal that was the highlight of my time in Buenos Aires. I will long remember their Patagonian Rob Roy as well as a parade of well-crafted dishes.
29. Spago, Los Angeles, USA
I had a feeling that Spago might be one of those meals that really didn’t live up to expectations, but Wolfgang Puck’s flagship restaurant served us a really high quality and creative lunch with splendid matched drinks. In particular, the fresh agnoloti pasta looked like nothing and tasted of everything.
30. De Superette, Gent,
Bakery and pizzeria De Superette is another outstanding jewel in Gent’s culinary crown. Their pizza is up there with the best in the world and their sharing plate starters are hugely impressive.
31. Bistro Apetit by Marin Rendic, Zagreb, Croatia
Bistro Apetit was the culinary highlight of my visit to Zagreb. Chef Marin Rendic’s food has class and elegance at its heart with a strong narrative to each well-considered plate. It’s the best place to dine in Zagreb, as far as I discovered.
32. Gramercy Tavern, New York, USA
Gramercy Tavern is a New York classic. We had a really enjoyable visit with their tavern packed with tempting options. It made me despair for the lack of good pub dining options in many cities in the UK where you would think this style of thing could easily be achieved, although perhaps not to Gramercy’s outstanding quality.
33. Don Julio, Buenos Aires,
The parrilla grill at Don Julio is worth the trip alone, but when you get to eat the steaks and sausages from the grill you feel doubly blessed. A remarkably friendly place to eat huge hunks of meat, Don Julio is a must-visit when you’re in Buenos Aires.
34. Ortega, Wellington, New Zealand
Wellington has some very good seafood eateries with Ortega a particularly vibrant and entertaining example. I had a veritable feast of fresh and delicious excellence when I visited.
35. Afisha, Almaty, Kazakhstan
My time in Almaty feels like an age ago, but I still very clearly remember the high quality dinner I had at Afisha. They delivered dishes of real charm and panache in a relaxed and welcoming setting that had a very decent cocktail bar attached.
36. Borkonyha, Budapest, Hungary
Borkonyha is an excellent showcase for fantastic Hungarian wines paired with fresh, beautifully presented food. It was the food highlight of a joyful few days in Budapest.
37. Lokal, Berlin, Germany
It seems so long ago that I popped into Lokal on my first night in Berlin and had a really lovely meal. I particularly recall their fresh cucumber soup’s perfect casting on a balmily warm evening during Berlin’s late summer heatwave.