Friday 30 December 2016

25 Best Meals of 2016.

As we all know, 2016 in general has been a terrible year. Luckily we still have restaurants, fine food and booze to console us. In this respect it has been good year for me both in terms of eating and photographing food professionally. My idea of Spanish chef collaborations 'Nacho & Friends' at Ibérica hit the ground running with three nights of the best food Manchester has ever seen. Inevitably these all comfortably make the list as do trips to Madrid in January, Valencia in May, Stockholm in July, Andalucia in September and London in December. The following are my favourite meals from this year although not necessarily in any specific order. Full reviews in most of the links.
Quique Dacosta, Denia, Spain.
A three star restaurant in every way. Favourite Dish; Red Denia Prawn.
Aponiente, El Puerto de Sta María, Spain.
Simply one of the best restaurants in Spain and the world. Favourite Dish; Sea urchin royal.
The Samling, Cumbria. 
Quite rightfully gained/retained their Michelin Star this year and now with their recent extension The Samling is up there with the best in the UK. Favourite Dish; Smoked Egg Yolk.
The French, Manchester. The menu from guest chef Dan Cox from Fera was a stunning evening of food and service. Favourite Dish; Roast lamb, summer cabbage and hyssop.
Ynshir Hall, Wales.
Such brilliance of flavour in the food from chef Gareth Ward and a world class experience on the kitchen table. Favourite Dish; Welsh Wagyu Four ways.
Alabaster, Madrid.
Purity in product in the way only the Spanish can do it. Favourite Dish; the sardines.
Sacha, Madrid. We loved loved loved Sacha! Clarity and simplicity and just wonderful food in this traditional institution. Favourite Dish; 'Falsa Lasanga' Fake sea urchin lasagne.
 La Tasqueria, Madrid.  Nose to tail brilliance. Favourite Dish; Pig's Trotter, Artichoke, crayfish.
Coque, Madrid. Yet another superb restaurant just outside of Madrid. Favourite Dish; Glazed Suckling Pig tender and juicy with its crackling spicy pumpkin purée and roasted pear.
Quique Dacosta at Ibérica Manchester. 
The first Nacho & Friends, a master-class in the finest food & service. Favourite Dish; Sea Urchin.
Gastrologik, Stockholm. We were blown away by the food here, it was utterly superb. Favourite Dish; Wild salmon from Junkön with green strawberries and blackcurrant leaves
Messina, Marbella.
This place (as well as Gastrologik) were the best one stars we've ever eaten in, it was so good!
Favourite Dish; Eel, foie gras and cold dashi.
Street Xo, Madrid & Street Xo London. We won't queue for many places but we will make an exception here. "Singapore Laksa" with Carabineros was a favourite in Madrid.
Mark Poynton at Ibérica Manchester. Mark Poynton showed Manchester what it takes to get a Michelin Star in the second Nacho & Friends. Favourite Dish; Venison Tartare, charcoal mayonnaise, turnips.
Ricard Camarena, Valencia.
We ate at all three Ricard Camarena's places in Valencia and really enjoyed them all, the best is his Michelin star restaurant. Favourite Dish; Cocochas.
Le Cochon Aveugle, York. We were so impressed with the food here, we expect they will get a Michelin star before too long. Favourite Dish; Scallop, Artichoke & brie purée.
La Terraza del Casino, Madrid. Opulent and elegant dining room and exquisite food. Favourite Dish. 'Olivas'.
The Flying Elk, Stockholm. We had a pitch perfect taster menu at this 'gastro-pub'. Favourite Dish; Divers Picked Scallop 'signature.'
Compartir at Ibérica, Manchester. Another wonderful evening of food at Ibérica from two of three former El Bulli chefs. Favourite Dish; Crispy egg yolk with mushrooms jelly.
La Salita, Valencia. Tipped for a Michelin Star, we loved chef Begoña Rodrigo's taster menu. Favourite Dish; Tiara of pickled and salted  fish.
Kiln, London.
One of the most exciting finds of the year for us. We sat at the counter and just ordered and ordered.... Favourite Dish; All great but the John Dory curry.
Anglo, London. Another winner on our recent London trip. Favourite Dish; Cod with Cavolo Nero.
Noble Rot, London.
We loved this place, proper food and a great wine list (as you might expect) in such an  atmospheric setting. Favourite Dish; The slip sole.
Hakassan Hanway, London.
Absolutely wonderful dim sum for Sunday lunch.
The Parkers Arms, Lancashire. 
The East Coast Lobster was up there with the finest lobster I've ever had.
2107 looks to be quieter eating out wise although we have a trip to San Sebastian booked in the spring (including Mugaritz). Work wise it should be busier if it all works out to plan with some big exciting projects in the pipeline. Also look out for more Nacho & Friends in 2017, I can barely believe those chefs involved are actually coming here to Manchester next year myself. But they have confirmed so watch this space!

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