Everyone seems to be on a detox of some sort during January, but not the STFF household. It is The Better Half’s (TBH) birthday in January. One of his Scottish mum’s signature dishes was one called ‘mince and tatties’ (beef mince and potatoes) and he requests I make it from time to time. It’s not really celebration food in my eyes, but when I saw that the Dean Street Townhouse had a version of it on their menu, I booked a table for his birthday dinner. I’ve been wanting to go there for a while, so this was the perfect opportunity. As you can imagine, the dish was a lot fancier than any version I or his mum ever made and he loved it. The restaurant strikes the right balance between cool and relaxed and is fit for any occasion be it business or pleasure.
In February we went back to South Africa to celebrate our friends Warren and Lizzy’s wedding just outside of Cape Town. We then spent a glorious week with our friends eating and drinking in some of the most fantastic locations you could ever hope to find. I can’t recommend the Cape Winelands enough for sheer beauty and outstanding food and wine. We had an excellent meal at Tokara in Stellenbosch but our lunch at the Delaire Graff estate just blew me away.
TBH and I celebrate our wedding anniversary in March and along with our besties, Ashleigh and Seth, we took the day off work to celebrate with breakfast at Duck and Waffle. It’s one of those restaurants that just never disappoints! Fantastic food, amazing view – what more could you ask for?
The Better Half and I went to Berlin in April and whilst it isn’t the most gastronomic place in the world, we had and excellent burger from a place housed in a disused toilet under a U-Bahn called Burgermeister. Doesn’t sound all that appealing, but the burger was on par with some of the best I have had.
There are a lot of highlights in May. TBH and I took a trip to Stockholm where we had proper Swedish meatballs. I went to Barcelona with bestie for a girls weekend and had one of the worst hangovers I’ve had in a long time, so didn’t get to enjoy the world-famous La Boqueria food market as much as I should’ve. (It’s an excuse to go back though!). There were also excellent meals at Blacklock and Roti Chai but my absolute highlight for this month (and probably this year) is the week that I spent at Ashburton Cookery School. What I learnt during this week has been invaluable and I loved every moment of it. I am considering doing the advanced course in 2016, I loved it that much.
This month, my standout meal was at Ametsa with Arzak Instruction, an offshoot of the 3 Michelin starred restaurant in San Sebastian run by Elena and Juan-Marie Arzak. Food that is innovative, delicious and as pretty as a picture. I hope that I am able to dine at their flagship restaurant in Spain in 2016.
TBH and I decided to do a little experiment this month to see if we could distinguish between one, two and three Michelin starred restaurants (read about it here) and had two fantastic meals as part of the test. First there was Alyn Williams at The Wesbury and then there was Heléné Darroze at The Connaught with the latter being my favourite of the month. Two Michelin starred restaurants in one month sounds like it could break the bank, but we learned that if you stick to the set lunch menu, you can find some incredible deals.
During August there wasn’t much eating out of note. The Better Half and I went to a music festival in Amsterdam with our friends, which was a lot of fun. It was one of those weekends where hotel food or something on the run was the order of the day!
It’s my birthday in September and TBH was left in charge of booking a restaurant. It’s not that hard when you have a list to work from and he chose a winner! Roux at Parliament Square is my favourite meal of 2015. Not because it was my birthday meal, but the food was excellent and the service was top notch. I discovered while doing the experiment that service is really something that makes or breaks an experience for me and the staff at Roux just nailed it!
We made an impromptu visit back to South Africa at the end of October and had dinner at The Cube Tasting Kitchen in Johannesburg while we were there. It was such a brilliant evening with our friends, drinking fantastic South African wine and eating food that was interesting and delicious. But those that know me and read my blog will know just how much I adore cheese, so the winner of my favourite restaurant for October has got to be Medlar for that cheese board! I thought I had died and gone to heaven! It was a great all-round experience and I would highly recommend a visit.
We had a wonderful breakfast at The Wolseley during November made even more special by a personal note from Jeremy King to thank me for my blog post. To say I was chuffed to bits is an understatement. To me, he is restaurant royalty!
It is bestie’s birthday in December and I took her to Hakkasan Hanway Place for their dimsum Sunday special. At £58 per person including two cocktails, a bottle of champagne and 5 courses, it is incredible value and a really great way to spend a Sunday.
So there it is, my list of favourites for 2015. Hopefully it has inspired you to visit places that you may not have before. Thank you for reading my blog and for your kind comments – please keep them coming! May your table be filled with plenty of good food, lots of laughter and happy memories.
Until we eat again in 2016 and beyond!