Twenty-one nice places to eat and drink

When people I only see at Christmas parties lie to me and tell me I’ve lost weight, I usually laugh and say “Don’t worry, I’ll find it again.” Oddly enough, no one said it this season. Looking at this list of just some of places where I ate while travelling in 2011, I’m starting to understand why. Keep in mind, this list does not include restaurants in my home city, not to mention pizza deliveries.

With the exception of two places (a pub with an amazing selection of beer in Washington – I didn’t have the food so I can’t judge – and a restaurant in Istanbul with so-so food but a spectacular view – The picture above of the Blue Mosque was the view from our table), these, in no real order, are places I would not hesitate to eat at again. In fact, I can hardly wait.

The list…


Bumpkin South Kensington

The best fish pie I have ever had. Period.

102 Old Brompton Road
Clareville Grove
Kensington, Greater London SW7 3RD
020 7341 0802

The Cadogan Arms

Oxtail and kidney suet pudding. If that sentence fragment makes you smile, you’ll love this place. And, you can play billiards!

Kings Road and Old Church St
Kensington, Greater London

The Pig’s Ear

One of London’s original and best gastropubs. Try anything with offal, it’s good.
35 Old Church Street
London, UK SW3 5BR
020 7352 2908


This  place advertises itself as an Indian tapas joint, which probably really ticks off Spanish people. All that really means is the food comes in smaller portions. It’s worth it, though. This is not your typical English curry in a hurry; it’s very well done. A great place to take a break from West End shopping (I went twice during my week in London). Try the tandoori mixed grill for two (even if you’re alone).

167-169 Wardour St.
London, Greater London W1F 8WR
020 7287 4243


Sprungli chocolatier

Switzerland is expensive, Zurich is outrageously so. But the club sandwich I has at Sprungli might just have been worth the $29 or so it cost. The surprise ingredient: a fried egg. The sweets at this little chain looked fantastic, but I was broke after the sandwich.

Bahnhofstrasse 21,
Zurich, Switzerland 8022


If you like muskets, tourists and metre-long sausages, this is the place for you. You’ll likely line up to get in but there’s a litre stein of beer on the other side to make up for the wait. Communal tables and meat cooked on a sword round out this must-do (once) experience.

Bahnhofstrasse 28a
Zurich, Switzerland 8001

Washington, D.C.

Blue Duck Tavern

This is one of my favourite places in one of my favourite cities. The origin (mostly very local) of everything on the menu is listed. Try the bone marrow, the marinated Berkshire pork chop and sample a Virginia wine.
1201 24th St NW
Washington, DC 20037
(202) 419-6755


More than 550 different beers, including 50 on tap. Nothing else matters.

1337 14th St NW
at Rhode Island Ave NW
Washington, DC 20005
(202) 567-2576

Ben’s Chili Bowl

Ben’s is proof that there is Formica in heaven. The chili half-smoke (unbelievable chili with a half-beef, half-pork smoked sausage) is Ben’s, and perhaps Washington’s signature, dish. You must have one before you die (but, be warned, two just might kill you).

1213 U St NW at 12th St NW
Washington, DC 20009
(202) 667-0909


Washington’s best Latin-American restaurant, according to me. The ceviches sampler (four kinds) is worth the visit.
701 14th St. NW at G St.
Washington, DC 20005


Brasserie t

This unassuming place is literally a glass box in the middle of the sidewalk (the kitchen is underneath). It’s worth a visit for the saucisse de Montréal – a smoky, pheasant sausage – alone.

1, Place des Festivals
Place des Arts
Montréal, QC

Schwartz’s Montreal Hebrew Delicatessen

Another formica-meets-Nirvana classic. Prepare to wait in line and then be served lightning fast. Order the smoked meat or you will have missed the whole point.
3895 boul. Saint-Laurent
Montréal, QC H2W 1X9

DNA restaurant

Don’t worry, this Old Montreal restaurant is named for the initials of the owners, not some weird genetic gastronomy. Seasonal, “haute-rustic” cuisine in a modern setting. Try the piglet. The chef’s table in the basement kitchen is place to be.
355 Marguerite D’Youville
Rue McGill
Montreal,  H2Y 2C4
(514) 287-3362

Au Pied de Cochon

Chef Martin Picard’s living, breathing ode to foie gras and anything he can conceivably put foie gras on, in or, near.  If you only have time for one meal in Montreal, go here (although I have yet – and I can’t quite believe this – to eat at Joe Beef, which, if you believe absolutely everyone who has ever been there, is a contender for the if-you-only-have-time-for-one-meal-go-here title. But don’t be stupid, stay long enough to have lots of meals.)
536 ave. Duluth Est
Montreal,  H2L 1A9
(514) 281-1114


A quick note about Turkish translations: I try hard not to make fun of anyone’s English, especially  if their first language is something else. God knows I’d be the worst at translating English into anything except perhaps Pig Latin. But some of the menu translations in Turkey are too good not to share. Cigarette pie, anyone? Didn’t think so. Or, my favourite – the altogether too literal translation of “deep-fried potato balls,” which unfortunately was printed as “deep-fired potato testes.”  I had the rice.


We were in Istanbul for eight days and we ate at least three meals a day  (not counting simit – a kind of bagel – we bought from street vendors) so, we ate in quite a few places. None stood out quite as much as Matbah, a rooftop place not too far from the Hagia Sophia Museum. You see the words “authentic Ottoman cuisine”  on a lot of menus in Istanbul, but Matbah took it up a notch. Many of the menu items were accompanied by dates that purport to be the earliest known written reference to the recipe. I had a lamb dish from 1539. I am a little dubious of the word “authentic” but the lamb, cooked with fruits and nuts and honey tasted like the real mccoy to me. In any event, it was delicious.

Caferiye Sokak No 6/1 34400 Sultanahmet
Istanbul, Turkey
0090-212-513 61 51

Seven Hills

The menu here won’t blow your socks off (we had some decent, if overpriced, grilled fish) but the view just might – the Bosphorus and the Sea of Marmara on one side, the Blue Mosque and the Hagia Sophia on the other.  If I was doing it all over again, I’d go for a drink and a look around and eat somewhere else.

Tevkifhane Sokak No:8/A | 34122 Cankurtaran Mahallesi
Sultanahmet, Istanbul, Turkey
+90 (212) 516 94 97

New York City


Be prepared to be jostled and bumped by other patrons in this tiny, perfect place in the Bowery. Book well in advance; the simply prepared, excellent food Chef Gabrielle Hamilton’s small, open kitchen turns out has attracted a large clientele.
54 East 1st Street
1st Avenue
New York, NY 10003
(212) 677-6221

The Spotted Pig

What does it say about me that so many of the places I eat at have the word pig in their names? Don’t answer. This little beast – New York’s first gastropub, according to The New Yorker (and they would know) is the sister restaurant to my other all-time Manhattan favourite, The Breslin. I ate at the pig twice last year and had the chef April Bloomfield’s signature burger on my first visit. (It only comes one way – grilled with Roquefort on top. Nothing else is allowed, except for regular Lou Reed, who is permitted to have onions on his). On the second visit, the waiter announced that they had butchered a young pig just that morning. The timing was perfect, as was the chop.
314 W 11th St
at Greenwich St
New York, NY 10014
(212) 620-0393

Closer to home

Ballygiblin’s Restaurant & Pub

Located almost precisely half-way between our Ottawa home and our weekend getaway near Perth, Ontario, the menu of this little pub is all over the map (Indian, Thai, Latin American as well as North American standards). But the food is fresh, seasonal and very well prepared. A perfect little pit stop just outside the capital.
151 Bridge Street
Carleton Place, ON
(613) 253-7400

Bistro 54

This is our go-to spot when I am too tired from sitting on the dock all day to cook. Some of the best Italian food I have had in one of Ontario’s prettiest little towns. Worth the trip.

54 Foster Street
Perth, ON
(613) 267-5454

Luke’s Gastronomy

We went to Luke’s on a Tuesday evening in December and we had the place to ourselves, which is hard to believe given that people are known to fly into Toronto from other parts of the world and then drive the three hours to Kingston just to taste wunderkind Luke Hayes-Alexander’s take on molecular gastronomy. I was dubious, but Luke’s “liquid and solid herb salad” and his “taste of money ( described as: beef cheeks, “foie gras”, cafe de Paris “truffle”, champagne, ginger, rose,hippocras) makes me want to go back and try the “cosmic duck.”

K7L 1B5
(613) 531-7745

One thought on “Twenty-one nice places to eat and drink

  1. Pingback: The end of Mouse’s tale: Death by Organic Peanut Butter | Meanwhile, at the Manse

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