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 best fish pie I have ever had. Period.102 Old Brompton Road Clareville Grove
Kensington, Greater London SW7 3RD
020 7341 0802
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
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
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
M St NW
Washington, DC 20037
More than 550 different beers, including 50 on tap. Nothing else matters.1337 14th St NW
at Rhode Island Ave NW
Washington, DC 20005
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, DC 20005
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 H2W 1X9
Montreal, H2Y 2C4
Montreal, H2L 1A9
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
0090-212-513 61 51
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
New York, NY 10003
at Greenwich St
New York, NY 10014
Closer to home
Carleton Place, ON (613) 253-7400
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
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.”264 PRINCESS ST.