Have I ever eaten so well in so many different destinations? Nope. If 2014 was one thing for me, it was a fantastic time of great foodie adventures. When coming up with this list of noteworthy restaurants visited the past year (see my list of London’s best here), I realise I did the bulk of the job of making a list of the best restaurants I’ve ever visited in my life.
Listed below in alphabetical order are five of restaurants (heavy on the Portuguese) that made 2014 one of the most memorably delicious years ever for me, along with a septet of honourable mentions that could all vie for sixth place.
Keep an eye out for Best of 2014 posts over the coming days. And please note, these ‘best of’ lists merely reflect how I chose to spend my time during the year and are comprised of well established and brand new venues as well as businesses that are local to me or somehow related to where work and play took me.
Best Restaurants (Not London)
Domilise’s Po-Boy & Bar
5240 Annunciation Street, New Orleans, Louisiana 70115
Something of a foodie institution without any high falutin’ airs about it, Domilise’s Po-Boy & Bar serves gargantuan po-boy sandwiches made with fresh baked “French bread” and heaps of whatever you want jammed inside it. Fantastic food aside, the vibe there is as languidly relaxed as gets down in Dixie. Escape the tourist fray and head uptown to Domilise’s for what might turn out to be the best sandwich you’ll ever eat.
Hotel Foroyar, Oyggjarvegur 45, 100 Tórshavn, Faroe Islands
Located at Hotel Foroyar with sweeping views over the town of Torshavn and across the bay to the island of Nolsoy, Koks features haute cuisine dishes “designed to delight guests with the essence of Faroese culinary heritage” using ingredients almost exclusively sourced locally. Blew me away!
Calle Cuchilleros, 17, 28005 Madrid, Spain
Restaurante Botin was founded in 1725, which according to the Guinness Book of Records makes it the oldest restaurant in the world. Such a claim to fame ensures a steady flow of customers coming in and out its rustic wooden doors – the vast majority of whom are holidaymakers from abroad. As is the case, the Gonzalez family who keep this culinary marvel in operation could probably rest on their laurels, serve some schlocky semblance of traditional Spanish food, and still have vacationers queued up to pay just to say they’d been there. Nonetheless, the family reckons the restaurant is not just some monument to how things once were but a vital benchmark of Madrileño cuisine. Specialities include suckling pig and Castillian lamb – both roasted in the restaurant’s original wood fired oven.
Luftgässlein 1, 4051 Basel
At Restaurant Rubino diners are invited to leave any irksome decision making with Chef Manuela Buser and go with her Menü Surprise. When in Basel, I suppose … So I did and was indeed glad to have done so as my meal paired wonderfully with a smart selection of wines remains one of the most delightful, attractive and most thoughtfully presented I’ve had to date.
717 8th Street Southeast, Washington DC 20003
Casual eatery, Rose’s Luxury, in the up-and-coming neighbourhood of Barrack’s Row might have served up the most delicious meal of 2014 for me. The buzz was electric the night I dined there (still not sure how I managed to get a table) and everything I tasted was phenomenal. My cocktail – rye, rose water and lemon – wowed my palate. So did challah with butter, honey and black sesame seeds; pork sausage with habanero and lychee salad; and pickle brined fried chicken. Prices were more than reasonable and service was on the ball!
Vinum at Graham’s
Graham’s Port Lodge, Rua do Agro 141, 4400-281 Vila Nova de Gaia, Porto, Portugal
Across the river from Porto in Vila Novo de Gaia are the cellars for Port producer Graham’s (along with all the cellars of the other big Port producers). It’s a phenomenal facility open for the public to visit and home to the wonderful award winning restaurant, Vinum. With lofty and romantic views, quality service and a modern menu adhering to traditional gastronomic values – the meal I had at Vinum was exquisite and set a high bar for the rest of my dining during the trip. Catch of the day, John Dory, was a delicate delight and a “vaca velha” rib steak was one of the most gorgeous cuts o’ cow I’d tasted in a very long time. Obviously, the wines were excellent. Graham’s 20 Year Old Tawny and 1969 Single Harvest Tawny were my two faves.
- Herdade da Malhadinha Nova, Albernoa, Portugal
- O Zé Restaurante Lounge, Comporta, Portugal
- Palace Café, New Orleans, Louisiana
- Quinta da Pacheca, Carneiro, Portugal
- Quinta do Panascal, Valença do Douro, Portugal
- Quinta do Vallado, Vilarinho dos Freires, Peso da Régua, Portugal
- Restaurante Típico da Bairrada, Mealhada, Portugal
- Yellow Deli, Chattanooga, Tennessee
That’s a wrap for my Best of 2014 miniseries. I’ll publish one more piece listing all the posts in this series together soon after Christmas! Until then, thanks for reading my blog. Have a very merry Christmas.