Peckham, London, UK
Peckham seems an unlikely spot for a great restaurant. In fact, it has several. The best of these is the Coal Rooms. Set in what used to be Peckham Rye station’s ticket office, they serve up great meaty ingredients – including housemade smoked pig’s head black pudding and their own thick sliced, coffeecured bacon, alongside highly creative vegetarian options.
Tin Lung Heen
West Kowloon, Hong Kong, China
Finding an oasis of calm in Hong Kong has long been a challenge, this year particularly so. The Ritz Carlton, and the two Michelinstarred delights of Tin Lung Heen, is one such oasis. The regular lunch menu takes recognisable Chinese dishes and ingredients and serves them on the 102nd floor in a wonderfully elevated fashion.
New York, New York, US
The second you step through the revolving door at Daniel Boulud’s titular two-Michelin starred restaurant, you’re in another world, a world where service is not so much exemplary as exquisitely choreographed, where your every immediate need will not be so much met as pre-empted, and where your only concern need be whether you want the four-course prix fixe or the full seven-course tasting menu.
In short, there’s fine dining and then there’s Daniel. The room itself is cool and decorated in calming tones. Furniture is elegant and comfortable. It’s a proper haven, unrushed and deeply civilised, where the food might have its roots in the classically French but it’s also a celebration of American ingredients, unusual herbs and many Asian influences. If that sounds like a fusion too far, there’s not a wasted ingredient in any dish. Everything is there for a reason, be it underscoring the hero ingredient, or for an eye-popping, smile-inducing burst of flavour or textural flourish. It’s the sort of meal that regularly stuns you into silence but, at the same time, it’s not one of those occasions where you’re expected to worship at the altar of food, there’s an impressive sense of fun throughout, much tableside theatre, and expert advice is always just a wave away.
Stand outs during our dinner included “Flet” (lemongrass-citrus cured fluke, sansho pepper, heirloom cucumbers, wild mint, agretti, Ossetra caviar), “Maïs” (chilled corn velouté, Maine lobster, avocado, sweet pepper, chive oil, nasturtium) and “Ris de Veau” (roasted veal sweetbreads, mushroom purée with buckwheat, hon shimeji, lamb’s quarters, sauce a l’Echalote”), plus a dish of Hudson Valley foie gras flambéed tableside, served with Black Mission figs, Marcona almonds, sumac and red sorrel. To be fair, the “Langoustine”, “Thon Rouge”, “Wagyu” and “Lapin” (oh the Lapin!) were also stellar (ditto the various wine matches) – and the desserts possibly even better – but the ingredients list would blow my word count. Prices are, in fairness, extremely reasonable for this level of cooking ($158 for four courses, $250 for the full seven). Go, savour the food, the service – and a few hours respite from the city.
Words By Neil Davey