New Year’s Day doesn’t seem the most psychologically astute to consider how much time and money one has spent on consuming food and drink over the preceding year. The grip of hang lends a jaundiced eye to even the sunniest experiences while the stinkers on reconsideration become full blown catastrophes.
However, on a day such as this it is wisest to remember how fortunate are those who have the leisure and lucre to dine out. I don’t take my good fortune for granted.
The average rating over the year was just over 7 out of 10, suggesting that the standard is pretty steady across the industry. Or I could be a generous reviewer. No restos received a 4, 2 or 1 out of 10 rating with three getting the dreaded zero for utterly crap service that led to a walk out. Below I’ll recap the worst experiences of 2016 though not at too great length.
To my surprise there are fourteen 9 out of 10 ratings, which means I’ll have to whittle down for a top 10! I’ll give weight to those restaurants which over-deliver on value for money.
It’s not surprising that the centre of London tops the charts for eating but it’s also been a very French year, which looks likely to last into 2017 with the eldest going to university in Paris (exam results allowing).
I often feel I could do with a curry so I was not surprised to see that they come out on top of visits, confirming the trend that Indian cuisine is the nation’s favourite. No Chinese (except for the Uighurs) is a bit of a shocker though!
Okay, so that’s the stats, time to dish out the gongs and the rotten toms.
Let’s get these out of the way eh? I should emphasise that all of the opinions are based on what happened at the time and things may have improved since then.
Worst dining experience of the year from a culinary point of view was undoubtedly The Botany Bay, an evening that was only saved from being truly hideous by the patience and good humour of my wife.
2. Gustavo’sNow sadly defunct Gustavo’s turned the pizzeria experience into a marathon from which I thought I was never going to escape.
3. Cafe de l’OpéraI asked the waiter for a Coca Light, he brought me an espresso. What a prick. Tourist Paris at its very worst. Doesn’t merit a picture.
The Good Stuff
In no particular order ten of the best of 2016.
Save it for winter because they tee you up with rye bread and pig fat before giving you some serious amounts of wholesome Polish food.
2. Standard TandooriThe go to Indian for the last twenty years. I couldn’t leave them out of a top 10, Tariq would kill me.
3. Bistro AixAs authentic a French bistro as you’re likely to find in Crouch End or any other London ‘burb. Good cooking, great value and friendly service. A real find.
4. De BelhamelCanalside eating in Amsterdam and a good laid-back feel in the room. I liked it.
5. KaramayIt felt like dining in someone’s front room but in a good way. Uighur cuisine at its best, or so my Uighur savvy fellow diner informed me.
6. Rule’sSometimes you want to leave a restaurant light of wallet and heavy of stomach. Rule’s will do that for you in style.
7. VagenendeOn the recommendation of Ian Nairn we found Vagenende largely unchanged since his visit in 1968. A good thing.
8. Pizza Express British MuseumLike the Standard an old reliable that hasn’t lost its charm over the years.
9. Salt YardIn a year packed with Spanish food Salt Yard came out the champion. Top class.
10. Le VoltaireSaving the best till last. It’s not cheap but where else could you dine a historic building, eat perfectly good food and have dignified waiters indulge you with bouts of table shenanigans?
#Food #London #Paris #Amsterdam
To see which other restaurants I visited in 2016 check out my GoogleMap
Blue Badge guide to London and academic specialising in early twentieth century history. Blogging on history, academia, and food and culture in the capital (and occasionally elsewhere).