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Top 10 meals of 2011


IanT
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It has become a bit of a tradition for me to put together a list of the 10 best meals I eat each year. This seems as good a place as any to post my list for 2011:

1. Per Se

2. Le Calandre

3. Da Vittorio

4. The Ledbury

5. Nathan Outlaw

6. In de Wulf

7. Il Cantinella

8. Minetta Tavern

9. Grouse at St John

10.The Greenhouse

Not convinced: Dinner by HB (good food but disliked the room and service), Hedone (execution not quite there on my one visit).

Michelin Starred Mishaps: Piazza Duomo, La Truffe Noire, L'Ecrivain, Zafferano.

Not as strong as my 2010 list and well behind 2009. I will have to make a bigger effort next year...

Edited by IanT (log)
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In no particular order, as it would take me forever to decide:

Arzak

Etxebarri

Hertog Jan

The Fat Duck

Roganic

Sat Bains

The Ledbury

Quay

Dinner

Galvin @ Windows - the scallop I had there was worth an entry alone

Near misses:

Mugaritz - Some hits, some misses.. nice atmosphere, some really inventive food but some of the main dishes really missed the mark for me

Tuddenham Mill - V good food, service/FOH/atmosphere not quite there yet

Hawksmoor @ Guildhall - had a great meal there last week

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Two stand head & shoulders above the rest:

In de Wulf,

Sat Bains

I can't really rank the rest in order, without more effort than I'm arsed to give it:

Da Piero, Wirral

Martin Wishart at Loch Lomond

Panoramic, Liverpool

365, Pollensa, Mallorca

Genestar, Alcudia, Mallorca

Il Pagliaccio, Rome

Kalinka, Oudtshoorn, South Africa

Stewart Warner at the Hillbark, Wirral

That said, I'm hoping tomorrow's meal at the French at Manchester's Midland Hotel would displace one of these.

Edited by Harters (log)

John Hartley

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Near misses:

Mugaritz - Some hits, some misses.. nice atmosphere, some really inventive food but some of the main dishes really missed the mark for me

Tuddenham Mill - V good food, service/FOH/atmosphere not quite there yet

Hawksmoor @ Guildhall - had a great meal there last week

Not really for the UK board but Mugaritz was very disappointing this year, not a patch on my previous visit. The misses outweighed the hits and the wine train had gone right downhill. Sauces and consommes weren't even close to the quality they had been first time round. I hope they can get back on track.

"Why would we want Children? What do they know about food?"

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For me, 2011 held some spectacular meals. The first four were absolutely outstanding, the others, very worthy candidates.

1. Becasse, Sydney (definately in the top two meals of my life thus far)

2. Alinea, Chicago

3. Masa, NY (Simplicity squared, perfect ingredients, perfect preparation, the experience of being practically one on one with the sushi master)

4. Gastro Park, Sydney

5. Moto, Chicago

6. Bouchon, Los Angeles

7. WD-50, NY

8. Katz's Deli, NY

9. Margaritaville, Las Vegas

10 is a tie between The Burger's Priest in Toronto, Colborne Lane in Toronto and L'Atelier, Las Vegas.

Edited by Broken English (log)

James.

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It has become a bit of a tradition for me to put together a list of the 10 best meals I eat each year. This seems as good a place as any to post my list for 2011:

1. Per Se

2. Le Calandre

3. Da Vittorio

4. The Ledbury

5. Nathan Outlaw

6. In de Wulf

7. Il Cantinella

8. Minetta Tavern

9. Grouse at St John

10.The Greenhouse

Not convinced: Dinner by HB (good food but disliked the room and service), Hedone (execution not quite there on my one visit).

Michelin Starred Mishaps: Piazza Duomo, La Truffe Noire, L'Ecrivain, Zafferano.

Not as strong as my 2010 list and well behind 2009. I will have to make a bigger effort next year...

Ian, where is your number 7? (I assume you mean 'La' Cantinella, but there are several by this name).

Grouse at St John...hadn't thought of it. I'm obsessed with grouse, now that's something for me to look forward to for next August (to see if it beats Koffmann's and my other favourites!)

Not surprised by your remarks on Zafferano or Hedone (they both seem to be prone to mishaps- though Hedone is infinitely superior in my view) but would love to hear about your incident at Piazza Duomo - was that service or food (or both)? My single visit there was one of the standout meals of last year (though my high-end comparatives are...incomparable to yours :smile: ).

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Near misses:

Mugaritz - Some hits, some misses.. nice atmosphere, some really inventive food but some of the main dishes really missed the mark for me

Tuddenham Mill - V good food, service/FOH/atmosphere not quite there yet

Hawksmoor @ Guildhall - had a great meal there last week

Not really for the UK board but Mugaritz was very disappointing this year, not a patch on my previous visit. The misses outweighed the hits and the wine train had gone right downhill. Sauces and consommes weren't even close to the quality they had been first time round. I hope they can get back on track.

Glad I'm not alone on this one. A huge letdown to fly all the way over there and it just wasn't very good.

Sleep, bike, cook, feed, repeat...

Chef Facebook HQ Menlo Park, CA

My eGullet Foodblog

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Ian, where is your number 7? (I assume you mean 'La' Cantinella, but there are several by this name).

Grouse at St John...hadn't thought of it. I'm obsessed with grouse, now that's something for me to look forward to for next August (to see if it beats Koffmann's and my other favourites!)

Not surprised by your remarks on Zafferano or Hedone (they both seem to be prone to mishaps- though Hedone is infinitely superior in my view) but would love to hear about your incident at Piazza Duomo - was that service or food (or both)? My single visit there was one of the standout meals of last year (though my high-end comparatives are...incomparable to yours :smile: ).

Yes, its "La Cantinella" in Barolo. Not to be confused with La Cantinetta which is close by. The ranking probably needs to be contextualised somewhat. Its quite a casual place but did the simple things incredibly well - Piemontese classics like porcini flan, carne crudo with truffles, tajarin salsicca etc - we were on honeymoonn, we walked there from an amazing morning tasting wine with Chiara Boschis at E.Pira etc.

Piazza Duomo - We found it gimmicky and unoriginal. I had seen many of the techniques before (Adria's instant sponges turned up in both sweet and savoury form) and the application of technique didn't add to the taste of the ingredients. They had a multi-vegetable course (as many high end restaurants now do, along the the lines of the Bras gargouillou) but it was to be eaten with tweezers rather than letting the ingredients interplay... I also disliked the room and service (sommelier apart) wasn't good.

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Wow this is impossible but here goes:

1. Sat Bains

2. Gordon Ramsay RHR

3. L'Attlier de Joel R (both London & Las Vegas)

4. Helen Darroze at the Connaught

5. Morgan M

5. Sketch (Library)

6. Galvin at Windows

7. Dinner by HB

8. Simpsons

9. River Cafe NYC

10. Any one of a number of places in Las Vegas

The order after the top 4 is fairly random and the River Cafe gets in for view as much food and Simpsons for consistent quality rather than one outstanding meal.

Andrew

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Probably it's because I don't get out enough, or I am a curmudgeonly old fart, or both, but while I've had many good meals I don't manage to get to 10 really great meals (including at the Ledbury), meals that last in the memory. My standouts for 2011 were, for different reasons:

Piazza Duomo (Alba)

Consorzio (Torino)

Galvin at Windows (London)

Koffmann's (London)

Vajante (London)

Apsleys (London)

Martin Wishart (Edinburgh)

The Peat Inn (Fife)

plus...

...a couple of dishes at Hedone (not the clam broth :smile: ).

Who knows, I may complete the list with Locatelli, Medlar or Petrus, still to go within the year!

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Who knows, I may complete the list with Locatelli, Medlar or Petrus, still to go within the year!

Locatelli was very far from achieving it, Medlar was truly truly excellent and enjoyable but cannot be described as a meal of the year, but I'm glad to report that the meal today at Petrus fully qualifies as one my 10 best.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I've browsed eGullet for a while but I can't resist a good list.

1. Akelare - Across the multiple courses of the A and B tasting menus I think I ate some of the most enjoyable food of my life.

2. The Fat Duck - first time, high expectations, easily met.

3. Mugaritz - I didn't love every mouthful but food and wine and service made this the most enjoyable 5 hours I've ever spent in a restaurant.

4. L'Enclume - two back to back meals, the second of which was incredible.

5. Nuno Mendes at the Loft Project: 12 unbelievable courses of food, watermelon sashimi, potato spaghetti, squid ink everywhere.

6. Roganic - stunning meal which prompted a long weekend at L'Enclume.

7. Viajante - my first visit in January was mindblowing. Subsequent visit didn't live up to the standard but that first time we were blown away by the freshness and clarity of flavour.

8. Marcus Wareing - only my second visit and not everything to my taste but in most respects this restaurant is a class above.

9. Pollen Street Social - we went on opening night so there were some creases to iron out but the potential of what Atherton was doing was clear.

10. Nahm Bangkok - maybe it was low expectations but this was an incredible lesson in the balancing of complex flavours. Best meal I've ever had in or from Asia.

Honorable mentions: Hibiscus, The Opera Tavern, Les Pres d'Eugenie

Edited by Man In Transit (log)
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Thank you for the warm welcome. I will confess to being a little daunted by eG - I read a thread about Pierre Gagnaire when trying to book an engagement restaurant which scared me off for a little while as the technical and philosophical detail the posters went into was incredible.

Les Pres d'Eugenie was a very strange experience, we just stopped off en route from Bordeaux to San Sebastian. The food was very good and my girlfriend maintains the croquembouche with lemon and langoustine is one of the best dishes she has ever eaten. But we were the youngest diners by about 30 years and it felt like we had stepped into some sort of reverse Narnia for three hours.

Interestingly when Michel Guerard's daughters were born in 1983 and 1986, he bought large volumes of top Bordeaux. The daughters donated them to the restaurant to be drunk at reasonable prices and they are very reasonable. Lynch Bages 1986 half bottle for Eur65, 1983 Petrus for Eur880 and various other examples.

Edited by Man In Transit (log)
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Welcome, MiT.

I've enjoyed your posts in "another place" and look forward to your contributions here. Absolutely, no need to feel daunted - there's a good balance of contributors here and pretty good information across the country.

John

John Hartley

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Ok, here goes:

Head and shoulders...

1) Auberge du Vieux Puits, Fontjoncouse, Langedoc

The restaurant that finally convinced my partner Jo that there was (or at least, could be) a point to my obsession with fine dining!

Then in no order other than the one in which they sprung to mind (which might provide a clue in itself...)

- Marcus Wareing at the Berkeley (IMHO transformed from the first couple of times I went; lighter, more imaginative, less staid and heavy. Now very special indeed)

- First visit to Pollen St Social (crowned with the chance to eat rice pudding out of a saucepan: they just figured since we've served most of it, why not leave the pan..?)

- Sa Qua Na, Honfleur (after a month of Magret de Canard and Fois Gras, French cooking that was modern, light, adventurous, beautifully balance, not a rip-off and accompanied by fantastic service).

- La Cerisaie, Paris 14th (he cooks; she serves, 20 covers, tiny, cramped and utter joie de vie in the food, the wine, the service, the customers...)

- Bella Vista, Blackheath (No stars, no stand out culinary genius or accollade, not a "Top Ten" experience individually. But if you've eaten in a restaurant maybe 20 times in the course of a year and not once had a duff dish, or a bad service experience, surely, for cumulative effort and delivery alone it can't be denied a place?)

- Medlar (fantastic lunch but mainly included for the brilliant wine pairing)

- Gambara, San Sebastian (A plate of ham; a plate of wild mushrooms; a sole with a couple of turned potatoes. A perfect lunch).

And the turkeys...

- Guy Savoy (nearly E500 a head to be sheep-dipped. Shame on him; shame on Michelin.)

- Mugaritz (Was my lunch of the year 2-3 years ago and now, just didn't hit the mark. In all the quest to be challenging and avant-garde forgot about the "food should taste nice" bit.)

Gareth

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