We came across this amazing place while sourcing a new dip-pot machine. Dining right on the Bosphorus, in the open, is an incredible experience, and everything about this place exudes quality.
Amangani, Jackson Hole, USA
Chef Rick Sordahl’s inventive American menu takes in Elk Sirloin Chilli and Bison Ribs, as well as Kobe Beef from Idaho and line-caught Yellowfin Tuna and it all comes in a glorious setting. Amangani’s high-ceilinged, redwood-walled restaurant encourages you to admire the local wildlife though floor-to-ceiling windows, at the same time as you eat it. This is seriously good food.
Castello di Vicarello, Tuscany
If I were dreaming of Tuscany, I would dream of this Castello. At first sight it exudes high prices and formal staff, yet it couldn’t be more down-to-earth: authentic home-cooked, Tuscan cuisine straight from a traditional farmhouse kitchen. With its working vineyard and olive grove, this is pure friendliness and informality. The owner-chef cooks up a daily-changing menu of authentic home-grown, home-made Tuscan food, served in a candlelit, flower-filled courtyard in summer and by the fireside in winter. For the romantics, a summer option is a secret spot in the gardens.
Cocos Beach Bungalows
Gibbs Farm, Tanzania
Between Arusha and the Ngorongoro Crater, Gibbs Farm sits alone within one of the most beautiful vistas you could wish to see. Big African skies and lush green colours make this an unmissable stopover on the way to, and back from, the crater. The food is different – very. Antelope in various guises features heavily, along with many other exotic meats that you’ll never find ‘Out of Africa’. Everything is grown on the farm, apart from the meats which are bought from the nearby Maasai – stunning food in a stunning place.
Hotel Seattle, Brighton
Sitting on a high, private, terraced deck overlooking the Marina on a warm sunny day in this glorious spot, people and boat-watching with a cold beer and some good company cannot easily be surpassed. Add some steamed mussels, creamy white wine sauce, fat chips – all very nicely done – and, hey, life feels good. This is a hotel we love: wide corridors, white linen and superbly comfortable beds.
Kaikoura Boutique Hotel
Market Camden Town
Camden’s first serious restaurant with proper food – been needed for ages. Market focuses on the best of English food, done to a standard that is right up there with the renowned Mr Hix. Talented, committed people run Market and it shows. The decor is understated – blasted brick and zinc-topped tables – but there’s nothing understated in the food. Sundays in Camden have always been an experience: try Sunday lunch here because you won’t find better in London.
Exemplary Moorish cuisine, originality, informality and great service in this seriously good restaurant. Moro is one of our all-time favourites and we use it often – very often – and never stop learning from the masters of their craft: the Sams Clarke. We love Exmouth Market, no pretentions here. Try the Café Kick opposite Moro for a work-out on the table footie as an evening finale – we do.
Pizza East, Shoreditch
Shoreditch is fast becoming the new Soho – and better, we think. Despite the exacting name, there’s a lot more than pizza on the menu here. There’s a real Italian-American slant to many of the dishes and quite a few of the staff (charming, well trained, and very likeable) are American. Clam pizza is a speciality of New England, but here it’s not smeared in tomato sauce. They serve it white, garnished with cherry tomatoes, garlic and pecorino. The base is thin, puffed up around the edges from the heat of a proper pizza oven. Another New York influence is the range of small eats, which in New York are called cicchetti after the Venetian term for them. Here, they’re simply called antipasti, although they are pretty large. Soft polenta topped with spiced and deep-fried chicken livers (yes, really) is a suitably impressive dish, while chunks of fried calamari with a caper aioli is also substantial and comforting. Pizza East is big and noisy but the food’s very good and the welcome is great.
Six Senses, Yao Noi, Thailand
What a dining room this is: split-level, surrounded by natural vegetation, with a waterfall splashing through its centre and with a stream running beneath its glass floor. Romantic and sophisticated, Six Senses has an open kitchen where chef Anthony Reynolds and his team cook superb modern Thai food using seasonal ingredients, including salads and vegetables picked from the nearby garden. Adjacent private dining pavilions nestled in mangroves and palms are the perfect place to get away from other guests. Whoever said living in the jungle had to be primitive? Relaxed and rustic, the chic, sleek and on-the-beach Terrace restaurant whips up global cuisine by day and classic Thai food at night. Here, the views of an island-peppered, clear turquoise sea are among the best in the world.
St Clements, St Leonards-on-Sea
The chef, Nick Hales, is ex-Caprice and The Ivy. He knows how to play with his pans and regularly wins Michelin Bib Gourmands. Everything is fresh and in the peak of condition and to a standard that has never been seen before in St Leonards. St Clements would be totally at home in London, such is the standard. We visit often and it never fails to impress.
Terre à Terre Brighton
Well, what can one say about this downtown, close-to-the-front, oasis of the best vegetarian food we have ever, ever tasted? The menu may need a tad of translation for simple omnivores like us, but well-informed staff know the food they serve backwards, sidewards and every other way. We went to find out what can be done with vegetarian food at the highest level and we learned by the bag-load.
The Boatshed, Auckland
The Boatshed does a business breakfast till after noon: fresh Waiheke roasted coffee for the perfect long black or latte and a beautiful selection of fresh fruits, juices, compotes, yogurts and baked breads. There’s a fresh fruit and vegetable juice bar for morning revivers and smoothies plus the sweet and savoury breakfast-of-the-day changes by the day. It could be smoked fish cakes with poached eggs and mustard hollandaise, ricotta hotcakes with maple-poached figs, or a Spanish chorizo and Manchego omelette – whatever the day brings. Sit in the morning sun…gaze out across the ocean… enjoy! And for the evening: a private barbecue of ocean red snap and ‘the trims’. Wow and golly.
The Pollen St Social
The stunning innovation shown in everything about ‘the Social’ makes this, without doubt, the very best of its kind in London today. So good were the desserts that we couldn’t decide which to choose, so we ordered them all – and we were glad we did!
The Zetter, Clerkenwell
The listed exterior of the old football pools company remains, but the interior has been ripped out and renewed to give a quirky boutique-type hotel that does everything it says on the tin. The rooftop suites, with decks overlooking St Paul's, are almost above any prose we can write as they are truly stunning. Zetter room service is unique. Try the following on your private deck with friends as a snackette before hitting the town: Salmon Tartare, Radish, Pickled Ginger and Uzu; Asparagus, Runny Duck Eggs, Green Salsa, Rock Salt; Duck Pastrami, Coleslaw Dip, Piccalilli. Look out for a proper cheese on toast when you get back late – just too tempting to ignore.
Verana, Jalisco, Pacifica Mexico
The daily changing cuisine is authentic Mexican, and very varied. I was never quite sure what meat I was eating…goat… chicken…who knows?...because there is no menu. The waiter explains. The freshest salsas and fish, combined with the hottest of Habaneros or smooth jalapeños…every dish has real taste. The tequila just keeps on coming, unless you request the chilli-infused margaritas that don’t hit until you’re on your way back to your hut. Laid back: flips, shorts and SDs (for the girls), Ray Bans a must (for the chaps) as the views are stunning.