Monday 16 December 2013

Top 25 Meals of 2013.

I'd say it's been a vintage year for fine food, without doubt the best ever. Perhaps I got carried away and having this here website egged me on a bit too much. Next year I have to be more frugal, I have no choice. But I don't regret any of it. Well perhaps a few places weren't worth the money but you live and learn don't you? Obviously this list is completely subjective and reflects my own personal taste. Click on the titles for the full reviews.
1. Azurmendi. Larrabetzu near Bilbao Spain. ***
I still think about this meal - a lot. It's still so underrated too despite being awarded a fairly recent third Michelin star. It doesn't seem to get the kudos of places like El Celler de Can Roca. It was the sheer intensity of the flavours, that magic in every single course that I've been looking for elsewhere but which seem to be rare even at this level. The setting is breathtaking too. I want to go back as soon as I'm able to, as sometimes I think I was actually dreaming.

2. El Celler de Can Roca. Girona Spain. *** With it now rated as 'the best restaurant in the world' naturally with so much hype it will disappoint some. It didn't disappoint us at all in any way. It's exactly the style of food I love to eat, there were no weak courses for me, I loved it all. Believe the hype.

3. 41º Degrees Experience. Barcelona, Spain. * This was a unique trip into sound, vision and most importantly food. Just simply stunning.
4. L'Enclume. Cartmel, Cumbria, England. ** Still the best British restaurant we've ever been to. It just gets better and better each time we visit.
 5. AponienteEl Puerto de Santa María Cadiz Andalucia Spain. * Probably the biggest surprise of the year, we were totally blown away by the unique seafood of chef Ángel León. I was convinced that this place would win a second star this time. 
6. Akelaŕe. San Sebastian, Spain. *** In any other year this would have been nearer the top. Fine three Michelin star dining in a beautiful setting.
7. Les Magnòlies. Arbúcies, Girona province, Spain. * Another place relatively unknown outside of Spain, but it really was extremely impressive and innovative.
8. The French. Manchester UK. It was insane that The French wasn't awarded a well deserved star this time as it's like L'Enclume's baby brother.
9. Tickets. Barcelona, Spain. * Great fun, great food. A really enjoyable experience. 
10. The Square. London UK. ** Three dishes in particular totally blew us away here.
11. El Campero. Barbate, Zahara de los Atunes, Spain. Love love love this place where nearly everything is tuna based. Unbelievable that it's not even in the Michelin Guide!
12. Calima. Marbella, Spain. ** The most beautiful restaurant and exquisite food from Dani García with a few courses that didn't quite work for us.
13. Casamar Llafranc, Spain. * A very impressive one star overlooking the sea.
14.  Nu. Girona, Spain.
Another real surprise, we were very impressed with this place especially for the price, it was a steal!
15. Mr Cooper House and Garden. Manchester Uk. This and The French are Manchester's best restaurants in my book. A beautiful space, wonderful service and superb food.
16. Cal Pep. Barcelona Spain. There was nothing fancy shmantzy about the food here, it was all simple yet top quality.
17. Sticky Walnut. A late contender, simply brilliant bistro food.
18. Berners Tavern. London Uk.
The food was good but it was as a whole that this place excelled. 
 19. Dabbous. London Uk. * Although over-hyped and slightly disappointing there were some good dishes here.
20. Sant Pau. Sant Pol de Mar, Spain. ***
One of the most disappointing meals of the year, not because it was bad food but because it wasn't anywhere near special enough for the money. It still makes my top 20 though.
* Indicates Michelin Stars.

My Five Favourite Pub Meals of 2013.
I'm not sure where these would go in my Top 20 as the pub experience is a different one, so I'm making a little chart for the best fine food I've had in pubs this year. I'll also be posting my Manchester Top 10 restaurants soon as well. 
The Parkers Arms. Newton-in-Bowland.
The Lord Clyde. Kerridge Cheshire. 
The Freemasons at Wiswell. Clitheroe.
 The Wizard Inn. Alderly Edge.
 Wensleydale Heifer, Yorkshire.


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