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Restaurant(s) of the Year 2006


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1. St John (still)

2. Fat Duck (hardly news, but this year was my first visit)

3. Honourable mentions to Hacienda Benazuza, Arbutus, The Bacchus and Ambassador

Award for meal that's sent me shrieking into the night with utter joy. Santa Maria del Buen Ayre.

Award for best food in weirdest place. Crab pasty at Cawes family longshoreman's hut, Ventnor.

If years had names like the Chinese system, this, for me would be the year of the pig head and the oxcheek. I'm not sure my oven's been turned above 65 degrees all year.

I think this may have been Heston's year though, pace the new (and excellent) OFM, more for the virus like spread of 'long, slow and low' than for foams and paints.

Edited by Tim Hayward (log)

Tim Hayward

"Anyone who wants to write about food would do well to stay away from

similes and metaphors, because if you're not careful, expressions like

'light as a feather' make their way into your sentences and then where are you?"

Nora Ephron

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This year I set myself the goal of eating at 12 Michelin restaurants (and Anthony's) in a year, of which I achieved no problems at all. Anyway here are my top five in no particular order:

1. Juniper- Still the 'funniest' restaurant around.

2. The Fat Duck- Great one off experience, and I still maintain the Snail Porridge tasted like a vesta curry.

3. Restaurant Sat Bains- Total surprise of the year, cutting edge cooking and a great beer list.

4. L'enclume- Just sublime.

5. Restaurant Le Bristol (Paris)- Best service I have ever experienced in a restaurant.

Next year I am aiming for 24 in a year.

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For me:

1) Winteringham Fields

2) Juniper

3) Anthony's

3b) With special mention to Scacco Matto (Bologna)

My partner asks if she can also have a go, by proxy:

1) Winteringham Fields

2) Osteria Piazzetta Cattedrale, Ostuni, Puglia.

3) G.W. Sundmans (Helsinki) - for their 'Arctic' menu and the harbour view.

She also asks if she can include lunch at Patrick Guilbaud (Dublin) as an extra... but I said 'no chance, three choices only...'

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For me:

1) Winteringham Fields

2) Juniper

3) Anthony's

3b) With special mention to Scacco Matto (Bologna)

My partner asks if she can also have a go, by proxy:

1) Winteringham Fields

2) Osteria Piazzetta Cattedrale, Ostuni, Puglia.

3) G.W. Sundmans (Helsinki) - for their 'Arctic' menu and the harbour view. 

She also asks if she can include lunch at Patrick Guilbaud (Dublin) as an extra... but I said 'no chance, three choices only...'

I cant believe you included Sundmans!! ha ha thats brilliant :biggrin:

I'm there on Saturday - the smoked deer is amazing!

<a href='http://www.bacchus-restaurant.co.uk' target='_blank'>www.bacchus-restaurant.co.uk</a>

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This year I set myself the goal of eating at 12 Michelin restaurants (and Anthony's) in a year, of which I achieved no problems at all.
Since in 2003 I had 53 *-meals in one year (never business btw), I noticed that it was getting too much and in later years I dined out much less. But 24 shouldn't be too difficult then :wink:

This also means that I have less choice this year. Best meals:

1. Oud Sluis***, Sluis (NL)

2. Can Fabes***, Sant Celoni (ES)

3. Sea Grill**, Brussels (B)

Interesting / promising restaurants:

1. In de Wulf*, Dranouter (B)

2. Carlo Aries*, Köln (D)

Edited by paulbrussel (log)
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although i've managed a fair few meals this year most have been at my usual haunts anthony's, number 3 york place, the star at harome, st vincents arms etc who have all performed well.

outside of that list my favourite meals were....

1) le champignon sauvage - cheltenham

2) beurheisel - in the middle of no-where alsace

3) chez denise - paris

Edited by Gary Marshall (log)

you don't win friends with salad

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Here's my high end top 10 of the year:

1. The Fat Duck

2. Sushi Yasuda

3. Michel Bras

4. Mugaritz

5. Pierre Gagnaire

6. The Ledbury

7. Suckling pig at St John

8. L'Atelier Robuchon (London)

9. WD50

10. The Greenhouse (under Bjorn)

Worst flops:

1.Tom Aikens

2. Amaya

3. La Noisette

4. Foliage

5. Rousillon

Special mention on a casual basis to the OA do at Tayyabs, Momofoku, Katz and pinxtos in San Sebastian.

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For me, in no particular order

Fat Duck ***

Waterside Inn ***

Le Gavroche **

and, on the continent

Paul Bocuse ***

Troisgros ***

Auberge de l'Ill ***

Schwarzwaldstube ***

Waldhotel Sonnora ***

Biggest disappointment

GR at Claridge's *

Ameiden, you are the first person in about 20 years to have Paul Bocuse listed as a favourite restuarant

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

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I'm not suggesting that being there is anything wrong with being unfashionable, I was curious as I haven't read decent reviews of it for a long time and the general consensus is that it should have lost its 3rd star long ago. A friend went earlier this year and described it as like being in a theme park. :laugh:

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

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There's no reason to suppose that a meal in a newly opened restaurant can't be outstanding. I can't comment on Bacchus as I haven't been (although from reports and reviews I have to say it doesn't look like it's going to be quite my sort of thing) but I loved the meals I had at Arbutus this year. I don't think age has anything to do with it at all.

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There's no reason to suppose that a meal in a newly opened restaurant can't be outstanding.

None whatsoever, of course. Nevertheless, relatively speaking, it is far more surprising that new London operations are cited as best restaurants of the year than it is surprising that someone should have had a meal of the year in an iconic three star such as Bocuse. Indeed, it's only not surprising if one factors in the 'buzz' of novelty, which at any rate is strictly superficial, hence the 'fashionable' comment.

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There's no reason to suppose that a meal in a newly opened restaurant can't be outstanding.

None whatsoever, of course. Nevertheless, relatively speaking, it is far more surprising that new London operations are cited as best restaurants of the year than it is surprising that someone should have had a meal of the year in an iconic three star such as Bocuse. Indeed, it's only not surprising if one factors in the 'buzz' of novelty, which at any rate is strictly superficial, hence the 'fashionable' comment.

I think this is a fair point: it's like those "100 greatest pop songs ever" which inevitably consist of mostly songs released in the past year. This could be of course because pop music is just getting better and better every year, or it could be because of the "recency effect".

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I'm not suggesting that being there is anything wrong with being unfashionable, I was curious as I haven't read decent reviews of it for a long time and the general consensus is that it should have lost its 3rd star long ago. A friend went earlier this year and described it as like being in a theme park. :laugh:

Hello Matthew,

Indeed, Bocuse is amoung my very favourite places and I feel that the three stars are still fully justified. As much as I enjoy Fat Duck et al., why should everything be dictated by avantgarde cooking? Sometimes I have a nostalgic moment and want to bring back the tastes of French three-star restaurants in the sixties, seventies and eighties. I went to Collonges once every year for the last five years or so, my next reservation is in a few weeks time. The master himself was always there to greet the guests and my feeling is that his simple presence keeps the quality on a consistent three star level. Yes, it is a theme park, and yes, there are lots of American and Japanese Foodie tourists, and yes the monkey with the barrel-organ is ridiculous. But the food can be superb!

You have to love classical or bourgeoise cuisine though (I personally am a great fan of Fernand Point and as long as Bocuse is alive, this is as close as I can get to what has been cooking in the Pyramide about 60 years ago!)

I remember the most fabulous asparagus as a starter, a huge portion and thick as bananas, served with a delicious sauce beaujolaise. Then the Crayfish gratin Fernand Point, wonderful Bresse chicken, not to mention the wonderful desserts. Service has always been outstanding, too.

Edited by ameiden (log)
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2) beurheisel - in the middle of no-where alsace

I know L'Arnsbourg is in the middle of nowhere but isn't Buerehiesel in the middle of Strasbourg?

you could be right, for the first time ever i went away and didn't make any reservations myself i just turned up in the hotel lobby at the agreed time and the others got me to the restaurant great stuff!

we did wessermans place in strasbourg which could well be beurheisel, it was ok but not earth shattering, the one in the middle of no- where which is probably l'arnsbourg was like eating in a spaceship, i loved it. we also hit auberge de l'ill which was very much 3* comfort food, but none the worse for it. the place in the sticks did it for me though, despite the several thousand euro taxi ride from strasbourg - possibly a slight exaggeration but it aint close to strasbourg if you're planning a trip.

you don't win friends with salad

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I'm more surprised that places like Arbutus, and the Bacchus are on people's lists. Does being new somehow make the food better?

Zoticus,

It's not necessarily that they are better, just that with limited dining opportunities these are the ones that stand out over the year.

I would love to have the time to revisit some of my favourites from the past such as Michel Bras, L'Aubergade and Maison Bricourt but limited funds and travel opportunities prevented this.

That said, I really loved Bacchus because it gave me something that I hadn't experienced before in a great relaxed atmosphere. Yes, that suggests novelty, but not for its own sake as the food tasted great and that is all that matters in the end. On the other hand I had that old stalwart Le Gavroche on my list as well because it also gave me something new within the confines of a quite classical cuisine.

For me restaurant of the year is not just about the absolute quality of the food but just the overall package which brings something new to the scene and more particularly to the jaded (spoilt) palates of foodies such as egullet members.

It's great to have other views especially if we bring up some of the slightly forgotten classic restaurants such as Bocuse. The only surprising thing as has been mentioned is that Bocuse which generally lost its reputation (allegedly, in some quarters - I can't comment as I've never been) was cited as a restaurant of the year. I guess we shouldn't assume that "old" restaurants are good any more than we assume that "new" restaurants can't be good. The role of Egullet is to judge on the merits as seen by the members so it's good to have new reports on "old" restaurants too....

Now, Gary, I need to know more about L'Arnsbourg as I was thinking of a trip to Alsace.....

Edited by Gavin Convery (log)

Gav

"A man tired of London..should move to Essex!"

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