Three Restaurants Your Should Try Before You Die
In my travels I am fortunate to get to experience some amazing restaurants and fine food. Food for me was a huge part of my upbringing, as the oldest girl the cooking duties were delegated to me with my mother working nights in the hospital as a nurse.
Some of my first memories and experiences with food include me standing on an ottoman crafted by huge recycled tins from vegetables that had been crafted together and covered with tacky seventies polyester and trimmed with rick rack created by some of my mother's clever patients. We've come a long way since then and whilst it's hard to narrow down just three, here are my three restaurants you should try before you die.
1. Juan y Angela (Formentera Island, Spain) $$$
Legend has it that the restaurant was founded on love, with its owners and namesake (a fisherman and a cook), creating an open air cafe on the beach overlooking on of the most beautiful seascapes I have ever seen. The first inception was a small bar, serving only those who could access it by sea in 1972. With the progress made with inbound local roads and an influx of the well heeled to Ibiza, it place has now become a dining destination and well worth hiring a boat for a day. Whilst still a humble place you can walk barefoot in and feel the sand at your feet, the restaurant caters to a discerning clientele who arrive on super yachts and arrive with the help of the restaurants sea porters who pick up dining guests in tenders.
The menu (you guessed it!) is still seafood so fresh it is still moving when presented, and we tried both the Grilled Salt Sea Bass and a few lobsters. The Grilled Squid is also delicious as is the sardines, the jamon y melon and fresh prawns. Wash this all down with a magnum of rose or the local white or red sangria and if you are as fortunate as we were, you might even have a meet and greet with Kate Hudson.
2. Le Taillevent (Paris France) $$$
Located in the 8th Arrondissement on the quaint Rue Lamennais is one of the most formal dining rooms I've ever noshed in but no less delightful. Le Taillevent's elegant team meet you at the door and usher you quietly into the foyer. Gentlemen must wear a jacket, and if you, like the men in our group of six, failed to pack one, rest assured the staff will aim to fit you as well as coordinate with your existing ensemble.
Once seated in one of the modern contemporary dining room make sure and look take in the calm and contemporary ambience. It is very grown up here. You are likely to see international foodies on tour, French families, and romantic couples. The decor is welcoming, with wood paneling, mocha shaded banquettes, and linen crisp and white. We sat at the foot of a grand staircase with a great view of colourful diners and staff.
The service is succinct under the watchful and welcoming eye of Jean-Marie Ancher who does his best to ensure that everyone enjoys themselves and their experience expectations are met. He indulged our pre-wedding festivities and offered the bride and groom sage and sound advice from a man appeared to have lived well.
As well as your appetite bring your black AMEX, and order the degustation which will set you back with wines about 300 Euros per person. The meal begins with the Remoulade de Tourteau a l'Aneth (fresh crab remoulade with a citron sauce), followed by the Boudin de Homard Bleu (a light dish of shaped lobster gelatine served with a lobster bisque foam), a series of modern French dishes including duck, squid ink risotto, and a series of fine cheeses. The staff are more than happy to accommodate with allergies and will to match wines to suit each course.
3. La Cabana Venice California $
In 1963, La Cabana opened its doors to serve up authentic Mexican food to the locals under the direction of it's founder and matriarch Nina L Haro. At the time, its discerning feature was the presence of hand made tortillas for which diners came to love and anticipate. As the menu developed, Nina and the team sourced regional authentic Mexican dishes and stayed true to the flavour profiles from the provinces where the recipes originated and these recipes are like national treasures. The menu hasn't changed or modernised and that is why this restaurant makes my list.
My first visit was back in 1994 when I was new to the surrounding neighbourhood. We were hungry, it was midnight and we wanted something more than Hardees. From my apartment in Santa Monica it was just a ten minute drive heading south to Venice Beach. The smell of Carnitas greeted us when we opened a door that was like walking through a time warp back to the '60s. Dim lighting, salty chips and endless jars of salsa are all a part of the addiction of this place. The Marguaritas here are honest and strong and the Fish Tacos are sensational. The portions are generous and each main dish comes with a dollop of black refried beans, special rice, and shredded lettuce and you will leave full but happy. It's open until 3am and holds one heck of a Cinco De Mayo party every May.
I like this place so much that I book my layovers in Los Angeles with enough time to grab a meal before heading back to Australia. La Cabana is easily 17 minutes away from LAX by taxi and will cost you about $20 each way but worth it. La Cabana offers the best no-nonsense authentic Mexican food you can eat without heading South of the Border and the service has always been exceptional for the calibre of restaurant.