My Gastronomic Highlights 2014

27th December 2014

I can’t believe that this will be my third Gastronomic Highlights post as Sam The Food Fan. I’ve said this every year, but this year really has been a quiet year on the blog. I looked through my list of bookings and realised that I only wrote about a third of the restaurants I actually went to. Bad Blogger! But you know, sometimes it’s nice to just have a meal without holding up the rest of the table because you want to get the perfect photo. It just wasn’t always appropriate. I still have a pretty good list of highlights though….

It is The Better Half’s (TBH) birthday in January, so what could have been more special than a dinner with a beautiful view over the London skyline? Aqua Shard was our destination of choice for this special occasion but it didn’t live up to expectations. The views were as spectacular as we hoped they would be, but the food and service let it down for us. It is only memorable for me because of the great bar, fantastic views and iconic location.

My highlight for February and my best meal for 2014 was at Viajante. We went on a picture-perfect winter Sunday afternoon just 2 weeks before the restaurant closed and Nuno Mendes moved onto Chiltern Firehouse. I missed the boat when Tom Aikens closed at the end of 2013 and there was no way I was going to let that happen again. The experience was outstanding from start to finish and I have very fond memories of that day.

Viajante - Buttermilk Meringue

Viajante – Buttermilk Meringue

This month we went to Vegas for the first time and what a fantastic experience that was. I didn’t blog at all, but we had some really great food. My favourite meal was on the 50th floor of the Rio Hotel at the Voodoo Steakhouse. The views over the strip are amazing and the food is just as good. We had a little boogie on the terrace after dinner and it was a really wonderful evening, spent with great friends.

Voodoo Steakhouse - Rio Hotel

Voodoo Steakhouse – Rio Hotel

There were a lot of highlights in April. We went to Norfolk to visit friends and had a really good meal at Morston Hall. TBH and I went to a collaboration between The Test Kitchen, voted South Africa’s best restaurant and The Square here in London. I’ve been lucky to visit both restaurants and just knew this would be an incredible experience…

Four Hands collaboration - The Square and The Test Kitchen

Four Hands collaboration – The Square and The Test Kitchen

…but my favourite meal of the month was at Angler. It serves excellent fish and seafood and the light and airy dining room is really lovely too.

Angler - Risotto Milanese, chilli & garlic prawns, baby squid

Angler – Risotto Milanese, chilli & garlic prawns, baby squid

Another busy month. The Better Half and I went to the StreetFeast festival – Chilli Chilli Bang Bang. The atmosphere just oozed cool and the food was on a par with some of the best restaurants in London. A really great day out and I can’t wait for summer to roll around again when the markets reopen.

I also went for lunch at Berner’s Tavern. I wasn’t feeling that great on this day, so I’m not sure I fully appreciated it, but I have a return visit booked later in January which I am looking forward to.

The Great British Menu was on TV and taking part this year was Adam Byatt from Trinity. I ate at Trinity a few years ago with friends and really enjoyed it, so I decided to book a table for TBH and I so that he could experience it too. It was as good as I remembered it and my favourite meal in May.

Trinity - Asparagus Vichyssoise with crisp fried bantam egg and asparagus soldier

Trinity – Asparagus Vichyssoise with crisp fried bantam egg and asparagus soldier

City Social is my highlight in June. We had visitors over from Ireland and I booked a late lunch here. It was the latest opening from Jason Atherton and having had a great experience at all of his other London restaurants I’ve visited, I had high expectations and I wasn’t disappointed. The food and views over London were amazing!

City Social - Cote de boef for two with duck fat chips, bernaise and peppercorn sauce

City Social – Cote de boef for two with duck fat chips, bernaise and peppercorn sauce

I am a huge Hawksmoor fan and when their baby brother, Foxlow opened in Clerkenwell I was keen to try it out. I had a steak that was as good as the steaks at Hawksmoor, but priced much more competitively. We received really wonderful service too, which made this dinner my highlight for July.

My favourite dinner in August was at Sticks ‘n Sushi. Bestie and I visited the Covent Garden branch and I just loved the sheer variety of great quality sushi on offer. It’s a good looking restaurant and has a very cool, buzzy atmosphere too.

Sticks 'n Sushi - Scallops wrapped in bacon with herb butter and Ebi bites

Sticks ‘n Sushi – Scallops wrapped in bacon with herb butter and Ebi bites

In September I went to a wedding where the groom is half Indian. The food served at the wedding was traditional Gujarati food and probably the best meal I’ve had at a wedding. Ever! Since then I’ve been hooked on finding good Indian food and I found it at Dishoom in Shoreditch. It serves really interesting Indian dishes that is just as good as I had at the wedding. I didn’t blog this meal, but I can’t wait to return so that I can write about it.

Arbutus has been on my bucket list since I started the blog, so I was really thrilled to go there in October with my friends. It’s a one Michelin star restaurant that is well known for its reasonably priced set menus. We really enjoyed our evening, the food was delicious and service excellent. I’m glad I finally got to tick this one off the list.

My highlight in November was dinner at SushiSamba. Two years after opening in London, it is still really difficult to get a table at a decent hour. We had a few drinks out on the balcony before our meal and event though it was November, it was a really mild and beautiful evening. It’s another fantastic meal that I didn’t blog about, but the sushi we had was excellent and even TBH, who is less of a fan of sushi, really enjoyed it. Hopefully I’ll go back in 2015 so that I can tell you all about it!


December was a really busy month for me socially and it involved alot of drinking but not that much eating of anything that really blew me away. My favourite food memory of the month though was a baking day that bestie and I had at my house. We decided to make foodie Christmas gifts and I will post some of the recipes of what we made over the coming months.

Homemade chorizo jam - Photo credit: @QuinteyMe

Homemade chorizo jam – Photo credit: @QuinteyMe

I hope that you have been inspired to try some of these restaurants. 2014 has been a fantastic year for me and I look forward to many more delicious meals in 2015.

Until we eat again!

Happy New Year from #STFF

Happy New Year from #STFF

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