On our short vacation in Germany we got to talking about memorable moments in 2013, which has proven to be an eventful year in all parts of our lives. Great meals are always highlights for us, so without further ado, here are our top 10:
1. Trishna – London
We went to this wonderful London Indian establishment on our first night here in August. We had, 10 days prior, agreed to the move to London and we rushed across the pond to look for a place to live. Trishna was a short walk from our hotel and despite the nagging jet lag, our £25 prix fixe meal was truly incredible. Highlights include a sea bream with cilantro and duck shush kabab. Drew loved his mango dessert and Julie loves all pudding-like foods so the rice pudding easily satisfied. We send all friends to Trishna as an essential meal and have heard nothing but rave reviews.
2. Ocean Grill – NYC
This meal made the cut because of the wonderful company. This summer, Julie’s sister Alice lived in NYC and Drew’s brother Brad was also in town for 6 weeks during his summer vacation. Paired with extra visitors (Lisa and Alex) we decided that a big group dinner was needed to celebrate the end of the summer. As an employee of BR Guest restaurants, Drew had accumulated lots of credits to be used at a BR Guest property so our meal was nearly free! We had fresh white wine, oysters, and sushi followed by fish and more fish.
3. Gwynett St. – NYC
NYC: Drew’s birthday dinner selection. It opened in 2012 with great fanfare, hitting most of the “best of” lists in the NYC media. Located in an unusual spot in East Williamsburg (known more for bodegas than high end dining), we did a tasting menu and had some really unbelievable food. Unusual pairings but delicious nevertheless, especially for a relatively bargain price of $85. Their whiskey bread with cultured butter is the best bread we had all year. Unfortunately, the head chef walked out last week with the entire kitchen staff after the owner was arrested on suspected drug trafficking. Shame.
4. Fette Sau /Mighty Quinn – NYC
Along with cheap authentic Mexican, NYC always lacked a strong barbecue scene. In the last two years though, NYC has become probably the best place to eat some slow cooked meat north of the Mason-Dixon Line. We had great meals at Fette Sau (Williamsburg institution) and Mighty Quinn, which opened their first brick and mortar location in the East Village after developing a following at Smorgasburg. Fette Sau made the most surprising cut Drew has seen at a BBQ joint, top sirloin, ridiculously delicious, along with crazy good brisket and sausage. Mighty Quinn makes hands down best pulled pork, even compared to the best pits in Memphis and Kansas City. Incredible depth of flavour for the most ubiquitous barbecue meat. Do not forget about the sides at either place as well. Pit beans, slaw and pickles will make everything better.
5. The Breakfast Club – London
London: One of the sad aspects about leaving NYC was losing brunch culture. We love brunch. Adore. Revere. London doesn’t have the same brunch thing going on, so our expectations were low. We arrived to London on a Tuesday in late September and four days later took a chance on this nearby breakfast/lunch spot. Boy were we wrong. The coffee is ridiculous, the Avocado Toast was to die for and the huevos rancheros was among the best we’ve had. Plus the entire restaurant is decorated like a John Hughes movie so we felt right at home in our new strange land.
6. Delhi Grill – London
London is known for its excellent Indian food (see above) and we were eager to find ‘our’ place in the new ‘hood. Thanks to a recommendation from Time Out, we walked the 7 minutes to our local hole in the wall Indian joint. The menu is small, every table is filled, and the Rogan Josh and Butter Chicken are amazing. We’ve been there 5 times already. In 3 months.
7. Mission Chinese – NYC
This white-hot spot opened in the Lower East Side to huge crowds and anticipation. Long lines dominated all day everyday. Drew snuck in for lunch mid- week, arriving 15 minutes prior to opening to secure a spot. Think typical Chinese take out food with a twist. Kung Pao pastrami, made with the help of Katz’s, located a few blocks away, was heavy on Szechuan peppercorns, bringing heat and that strange numbing sensation that the peppercorns deliver. Later, we discovered their takeout service which circumnavigated the line issue, letting us waltz in and grab our spicy clams, Chinese long beans and of course Kung Pao pastrami to go. Smart.
8. Eventide Oyster Co. – Portland, Maine
One of our favourite Portland restaurants opened mere months after we moved away in early 2012. Located in what was once a fab cookbook store, Eventide filled a niche that we never even knew was there – affordable oysters and small plates paired with great beer and cocktails. It’s comfortable, friendly and the staff and owners (most of which we know) are knowledgable and welcoming. Driving up from New York in June, this was literally our first stop in a town full of years of personal history and countless bars and restaurants that we love.
9. Ottolenghi – London
We lucked out in our new neighbourhood of Islington. It’s filled to the brim of interesting restaurants and we’ve just begun to scratch the surface. But Ottolenghi is not under the radar or down a spare alley or unknown. It’s run by a celebrity chef who appears regularly on TV and has a slew of popular cookbooks. But man, is it great. The menu is heavy on veggies, Mediterranean (with a nod to the chef’s Israeli roots) and the front of the store has a bakery and cold apps to takeaway which we can also vouch for. Drew got one of the aforementioned cookbooks for Christmas and already it is dog-eared. This meal was also the biggest wait – we had to make a reservation three weeks in advance to secure a ‘normal’ dining time of 7pm but it was well worth it.