Eleven Madison Park – New York

Eleven Madison Park

Eleven Madison Park

Eleven Madison Park – so named as it is located on Eleven Madison Avenue facing Madison Square Park – is a three star Michelin restaurant, a designated Grand Chef Relais & Châteaux restaurant and the fourth ranked restaurant on San Pellegrino’s World’s 50 Best Restaurants list. Housed in the classical looking Credit Suisse building, the spacious dining room speaks of grandeur with its huge floor-to-ceiling windows and impressive art deco design.

Eleven Madison Park is the brainchild of Executive Chef Daniel Humm, a Swiss-born chef who earned his first Michelin star with Gasthaus zum Gupf, a restaurant located in the Swiss Alps. Humm also cooked at the famed Restaurant Pont de Brent, a Michelin starred restaurant in Montreux before moving Stateside to San Francisco in 2003.

His rise in the States was meteoric. In 2004, the San Francisco Chronicle named him a 2004 Rising Star Chef, and in 2005 Food & Wine named him one of Best New Chefs of 2005. Humm took over the reigns as executive chef of Eleven Madison Park in 2006, and under his guidance Eleven Madison Park received a four star rating from The New York Times in 2009. In 2010, Humm was awarded the James Beard Award for “Best Chef, New York City.” And of course, Eleven Madison Park holds three Michelin stars and a ranking as one of the best restaurants in the world.

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A Voce Columbus – New York City

There are two branches of A Voce Restaurant in New York. The original is on Madison Avenue, which following on from its success and a Michelin star resulted in the second one at Columbus Circle. This too has received critical recognition as well, with A Voce Columbus also garnering a Michelin Star for its fine Italian cooking.

A Voce Columbus occupies a fabulous space on the third floor of the Time Warner Center which was formerly Gray Kunz’s renowed Café Gray. It’s smart and sleek with a long elevated bar area that serves knockout cocktails and bar food. The bar area offers some great people watching, but the best aspect at the restaurant are from the tables that line the windows from where you can peer out onto the goings-on at Columbus Circle and the fringes of Central Park while you feast.

I mentioned the knockout cocktails and for our aperitif we tried the excellent Il Tarfuto cocktail ($33), Michter’s Rye Bourbon mixed with a truffle infused vermouth and topped with a drizzling of white truffle honey and a sliver of bourbon pickled black truffle. The mix takes 2 to 3 weeks to make and was a heady concoction of truffle aroma and flavour. The honey did a great job of sweetening things up, and this made for a delicious way to start the meal.

A Voce - Il Tarfuto cocktail

Il Tarfuto cocktail

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Yamazato – One Star Michelin Japanese Restaurant, Amsterdam

After a sumptuous dinner at &Samhoud Places, we followed this up with another lovely meat at Yamazato Restaurant which located in The Hotel Okura in Amsterdam. Yamazato is famous for its authentic Japanese haute cuisine, and in fact Yamazato was the first traditional Japanese restaurant to be awarded a one Michelin star in Europe. The restaurant is best known for its kaiseki menu, a multi-course Japanese menu that draws upon seasonal ingredients and a collection of skills and techniques in its preparation. But Yamazato also offers a wonderful variety of classical Japanese dishes from the a la carte menu, a selection of sashimi and sushi, and a more moderately priced lunch menu.

Decorated in a 15th and 16th-century Sukiya style, the décor at Yamazato embodies the essence of a classical Japanese fine dining restaurant. The waitresses were all dressed in kimonos and well trained in the art of fine Japanese hospitality. Surrounding the restaurant is a Japanese garden, beautifully landscaped to exude a sense of calm and serenity. The décor, the lovely service and the garden all went hand in hand in to create a harmonious dining experience.

Yamazato - The Garden

The Garden

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&Samhoud Places – Two Star Michelin Restaurant, Amsterdam

My recent weekend visit to Amsterdam saw me enjoying two days of glorious sunshine, a really pleasant stay at the Art’Otel Amsterdam and visits to a couple of Michelin Restaurants, one of which was &Samhoud Places, a two Michelin starred restaurant in Amsterdam headed by Israeli-born Executive Chef Moshik Roth. Roth’s career started from humble beginnings, as that of a pizzeria manager. But his career took a turn when he embarked on apprenticeships at De Librije and Zwethheul, both of which now hold three and two Michelin stars respectively. Today, Chef Roth is considered to be one of the leading molecular chefs in The Netherlands.

&Samhoud Places is a collaboration between Roth and entrepreneur Salem Samhoud, hence the name. The restaurant is located in Oosterdokseiland, the Eastern Dock Island which is located east of Amsterdam Central Railway Station. &Samhoud Places spans two floors, the first floor being where the Michelin restaurant is situated. The ground floor is a more casual eatery offering street food.

We decided to go on Roth’s full Michelin gastronomic journey, electing to take the nine-course degustation menu (€195.50). Being situated on the Eastern Docks, the restaurant offers views of the waterways. But should you get a bar seat surrounding the open plan kitchen like we did, then you will get a chance to watch the chefs beavering away at work.

&Samhoud Places - Chefs at work

&Samhoud Places – Chefs at work

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Pierchic at the Al Qasr Hotel, Dubai, UAE

Pierchic - a view of the jetty

Pierchic – a view of the jetty

With a six-hour stopover in Dubai as I made my way home from Doha to London, I decided that there was just enough time to head out to dinner in Dubai. The alternative would have been to spend six hours shopping at Dubai airport, an option that I considered rather dangerous. And besides, I prefer eating so much more than shopping. But the difficulty was – where to go?!?! There are just sooooooooooo many restaurants in Dubai! I ultimately ended up at Pierchic, a seafood restaurant that is one of the nine dining options in the luxurious Al Qasr, a hotel that is part of the glamorous Madinat Jumeriah Hotel Group. Pierchic has won a string of awards including Dubai Time Out’s Most Romantic Restaurant of 2013 and Best Seafood Restaurant of 2012.

Pierchic sits on a jetty that stretches from the hotel’s edge onto the Persian Gulf. And with its position perched on the water it offers amazing views of its neighbour, the world famous seven-star Al Burj Arab Hotel which is also part of the Madinat Jumeriah Group. With views like this, it is easy to see how Pierchic can lay claim to being one of the most romantic restaurants in Dubai. Allegedly, the restaurant books out for Valentine’s Day six months in advance and has been the site of many a wedding proposal.

Pierchic and views of Burj Al Arab

Pierchic and views of Burj Al Arab

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48 Hours in Moscow

At first glance, Moscow does not come across as the prettiest of cities. And the momentary confusion that grabs you as you first walk into the metro feels a little overwhelming as there are no English signs. But as you learn to navigate yourself and chip away at the language barriers, you soon discover that Moscow is not without its charms. The more you dig, the more you realise that there is more than meets the eye. There is an incredible depth of history behind this grand old city – inside the Kremlin walls is a treasure trove of riches and the fine art offerings in its museums are world class. And St Basil’s Cathedral – well it’s hard to capture the sense of awe that you feel when you first lay eyes on its colourful grandeur.

Saint Basil's Cathedral

Saint Basil’s Cathedral

Friends of mine who went to Moscow 20 years ago told me that back in those dark communist times one had to wait about ten hours to get served at McDonald’s. Now the restaurant choices are plentiful and varied, Japanese restaurants are en vogue and some critically acclaimed chefs such as the likes of Pierre Gagnaire have set up shop in Moscow with his restaurant Les Menus at the Lotte Hotel.

So I was on a mission to do some eating of my own, and the first restaurant on the agenda was Expedition, a restaurant that is unique for its sense of adventure and its use of native Russian products. Also popular in Russia are cuisines from the ex-Soviet states so Georgian cuisine at Saperavi Café was up next. Finally Restaurant 57 rounded up the list for a spot of Soviet self-service eating which proved to be surprisingly good.

Expedition Restaurant

Expedition Restaurant

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Other Toronto Eats…

Aside from dinner at Momofuku Daisho, I also managed to get my teeth into a number of other restaurants during my stay in Toronto. I hereby present to you Canoe, Acadia and Pure Spirits Oyster House.

CANOE

Canoe Restaurant is part of the Oliver & Bonacini Restaurant Group, a partnership founded by Peter Oliver and Michael Bonacini in 1993, a pair of restaurateurs who have since created a string of 11 successful fine dining restaurants in Ontario, Canada. Their restaurant, Auberge du Pommier, ranks highly in the guidebooks as being one of the best fine dining venues in Toronto.

Canoe bar

Canoe bar

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la vie, Osnabrück, Germany – Visit #2

la vie

la vie

Last year, I was lucky enough to be invited by Executive Chef Thomas Bühner to his restaurant la vie in Osnabrück, Germany where I had a sublime dining experience. You can read about that meal here. At that point la vie held only two Michelin stars, but last November it went on to win its third Michelin star to become one of the elite few to ever reach this special level of achievement. la vie was also a new entrant in the 2012 San Pellegrino Best Restaurant Awards and is currently ranked number 72.

la vie dining room

la vie dining room

To sample its new three-star Michelin menu, I was again invited to la vie recently where we had a 3-course lunch (four-courses is priced at €89) followed by the gastronomic 7-course Le Grand Chef tasting menu for dinner (€198) with matching wines (€285).

la vie

la vie

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