Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Foodie Abroad: the best of 2015

This year we were lucky enough to go to not one but two 2* Michelin restaurants.  While Michelin is certainly not the be all and end all, two stars still means something – generally seriously good food and service as slick as a dolphin’s tummy. 

But there were delights to be had all over the place at every price point.  2015 was the year we inaugurated the CNO (Cheap Night Out) in Leeds – and although we tailed off a bit in the last few months that is definitely a habit we are going to get back to next year.  Leeds has an embarassment of riches when it comes to fabulous little independent joints producing top class dishes.  And not just Leeds – we also experienced some fantastic food in Harrogate which is the merest hop, skip and jump away.

Our annual trip to the West of Scotland was as wonderful as ever and full of good eating experiences, from city to shore.  We also experienced the delights of Nottingham (although I’m still bitter that D wouldn’t let me visit the kitty café) and the truly majestic fish and chips of the Magpie in Whitby. 

But what were the highlights?  The dishes that made our eyes roll back in our heads, the places that made us feel all warm and fuzzy?  Read on, dear friend.

The Geri Halliwell award for “Spicing up our Lives” goes to…Babu Bombay Street Kitchen in Glasgow.  We only went there for breakfast but it inspired two – two! – recipes when we got home, as we realised that life would never be complete without bhurji pau in it.  We’re planning to go back next year and check out the lunch menu.  Honourable mention to Tharavadu for a Keralan sea bass dish that I would eat every week if I could.

The Augustus Gloop award for “Pudding of the Year” goes to…the strawberry cheesecake at Norse, Harrogate.  Fairy light but packing a serious flavour punch – this was truly skilled cooking and a sublime eating experience.  Honourable mention to Restarant Sat Bains for producing what was, essentially, an ur-Aero.  An Aero to transcend all others. 

The Jeeves award for “Sublime Service” has to go to Le Manoir Aux Quat’Saisons, and to one waitress in particular who spent the entire meal gently ripping the piss out of D.  He loved it.  It goes to show that the mark of truly fantastic waiting staff is to understand your customer and tailor their experience accordingly.  Oh, and also to bring along extra marshmallows for the entire table.

The Bruce-Willis-in-the-Sixth-Sense award for “Plate of food that causes the Jaw to Drop”…now, this was a tough one.  But in the end, I had to go for the kohlrabi tagliatelle with pesto at Restaurant Sat Bains.  It was a prime example of a dish that sounded humble but tasted anything but.  It was the highlight of a truly awesome meal that included the bread of the Gods and frozen chicken livers.  And it was vegetarian.

All in all, an excellent year with the promise of more good stuff to come in 2016.  I can’t wait!


  1. I've always wanted to go to the Manoir but it's absurdly expensive. Although now I know there are marshmallows, it will be even harder to resist!


    1. We only went because my parents were treating us to celebrate their 60th. I will pay a lot of money for food, but Le Manoir is ridiculous. Mind you, the standard of service and overall experience is pretty stunning so it might be worth pushing the boat out...? x