There’s arguably no better way to explore a new culture than to eat like a horse whilst travelling. For us, we’d much rather find a little hut at the top of a mountain with a local family cooking a dish that has been perfected over generations. After all, if you’re heading to a new country where food is one of their main cultural attractions, what’s the point in sitting around a swimming pool eating a hamburger? A hamburger that probably costs double, maybe even triple the price of some seriously good local food that could be found down the road!
This year we have been to a few restaurants both at home and abroad where we have found the food and experience to be incredible.
Here are Our Top 5 Restaurants of 2017
(Trip Advisor – 79% Excellent/Very good)
We’ve eaten here twice now and it’s not a place that disappoints. Located on Ebury Street near Sloane Square London, it’s a little hidden gem. It’s no wonder the restaurant has been voted London’s “best for romance” nine years running as the ‘wonderfully atmospheric ambience’ (their words) of the typically French setting makes for a lovely evening. On top of this the food is delicious – this is where I first tried the classic French onion soup which was very impressive; I’ve since eaten French Soup in Paris and it definitely wasn’t as good as the one here. The customer service is excellent – your coat is taken the moment you walk in and then you are shown to your table in a little secluded area of a dark yet beautifully presented restaurant. If you are anything like me, the bread provided before a meal is extremely important. At La Poule au Pot you are presented with a basket of many different breads which if you’re not careful can quickly fill your appetite before you’ve even begun your starter. Following this, the main courses and desserts are very tasty and and on the grand scheme of things very well-priced. If you are looking for a romantic meal or just a nice one with the family, La Poule au Pot is a sure thing!
4. Happy Garden – Bentota, Sri Lanka
(Trip Advisor – 96% Excellent/Very good
This restaurant is a right gooden! Although, when you first arrive it definitely isn’t the most aesthetically pleasing restaurant. But don’t be fooled, it’s incredible! Located near Bentota station in somewhat of a ‘shed’ with a cover over the top, the word ‘rustic’ couldn’t better fit its’ description. We heard about this place online and of how the food was incredible…. and it really was! The restaurant is run by an old Sri-Lankan husband and wife who are very sweet. We ate here three times during our week in Bentota and the service they provide is all out of love. They are extremely passionate about the food cooked here and each day the curries are made different from the last.
For anyone that hasn’t been to Sri Lanka, the curries are mostly excellent and all differ broadly from one restaurant to the next. The great thing about them is that not only do you receive a curry, you also gain a table of accompaniments to mix in to it the main dish. This usually involves things such as a Okra, Dahl curry, cucumber curry, beetroot curry and all of these mixed in with the main dish create a meal that is out of this world! What’s more, I believe that our lunch all-in-all costed around £9! Yes!
(Trip Advisor – 89% Excellent/Very good)
This Italian restaurant gets better each time that we go. Having been situated around the corner from Carnaby Street London for over thirty years, you can only imagine that the reason it still exists in such a prime location is down to it retaining a great reputation. This can be recognised when you walk in at 13:00 on a weekday and it’s completely full! The attention to detail is next to none with the food clearly being made with lots of love by the chef who always comes out to mingle with his customers. We enjoyed the food so much last time we came. Once we had finished eating we spoke with the chef about the history behind some of his recipes and how they have evolved over time. He was very welcoming and appreciative of our enjoyment for his food – we can’t wait to go back again soon! Also, I can not recommend the soufflé starter enough!.
2. Sun and Sea, Bentota, Sri Lanka
(Trip Advisor – 90% Excellent/Very Good)
After arriving in Bentota Sri Lanka, we sought out to find the best restaurant in town. After searching Trip Advisor, we came across Sun and Sea (and Happy Garden) and its’ excellent reputation and I’ve got to say that this place served us the best curry we’ve ever had. Because of this, we came back the next night and the night after that …..and I think maybe even the night after that! If you read the reviews on Trip Advisor, you’ll see that the feedback is built up from one happy customer to the next, all boasting of having the best ‘something’ to eat that they have ever had. The coconut bread that you’re given as an appetiser is extremely moreish! On the first night, I couldn’t stop asking for more of it and then struggled with my main when it came out (I didn’t make this mistake again after the first night).
Sun and Sea is quite hard to find if you’re not been before as it’s literally situated next to the train track and hidden within a tree next to the sea. It’s covered in fairy lights and until the train occasionally comes past, the atmosphere is completely still – such a little romanic gem! The guy that owns it (I forget his name) was one of the nicest people that we met in Sri Lanka; each night he ensured that he saved us the prime position in the restaurant and was very welcoming when we returned. If we ever head back to Sri Lanka, which we hope to do one day, this will definitely be on our list of places to revisit!
1. Nu Eatery – Hoi An, Vietnam
(Trip Advisor – 95% Excellent/Very Good)
We heard about this restaurant through a friend of a friend who happens to be a chef and had eaten here just before we arrived in Vietnam. After checking out some reviews on TripAdvisor, it was clear to see that it’s a very popular place with excellent ratings, so we headed straight for it! Located down a small alleyway in the heart of the Ancient City, it’s definitely one of the best kept secrets of Hoi An! Upon arriving, we actually didn’t feel that it looked all that much and hesitated whether or not go in. However, once we had stood outside for no longer than five minutes watching numerous incredibly happy customers re-book for the next evening, we knew that we were on to a winner!
The menu was very unique and all looked great… so we decided to order all of it! (haha) Everything was incredible. Never before have we sat in a restaurant and laughed because the food was so good – we couldn’t quite believe how nice it all was – as each dish came along, it was better than the last. We particularly enjoyed the steamed bao buns and have since tried to find ones back home as good but have been very unsuccessful (unbelievably Wagamama’s came close). Not only was the food great, the bill sealed the deal with the total price merely being about £12 for both of us!
Nu Eatery was definitely our favourite restaurant from the last year and a few of our friends have since been here on our recommendation and felt the same.