I have been extremely fortunate to dine and drink very, very well for most of my life, and never better than in recent years. Between my own personal expeditions, and Rascal + Thorn, the travel business that I operate with my business partner, Charles Grabitzky, I have had the privilege to dine at many of the finest restaurants in the world. 2018 proved to be another extraordinary year, including, perhaps the greatest breadth of dining experience of my life. I traveled more than I ever had and covered a lot of ground, actually circumnavigating the globe in November. I spent a lot of time in my native New York City and again visited my soul city – Barcelona, but I also had my very long-awaited entry into Japan, which proved to exceed my already high expectations. That was the only significant new location for me, as most of my travels were return visits to much-loved destinations such as Copenhagen, London, the San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles, New Orleans, Montreal and elsewhere. I returned to a few old favorites in these visits, but also included many a restaurant new to me. In short, I fed on a lot of fabulous food and downed dozens of delectable drinks. The number of great meals greatly exceeded the 25 that I have limited myself to in this post. These were my favorite meals of the year, the ones that for a myriad of reasons, most resonated with me. In some cases, I had company, such as family, friends, or clients. In other cases, I dined alone. The ranking here stems from a lot of subjectivity on my part. I don’t believe there is any way around that for a list like this. To try to approach a meal in an entirely objective way is to deny so many of the factors that make a meal great, or conversely can ruin a meal. A restaurant, of course, must do its share to create a great meal, but so must a diner. In the best of circumstances, the restaurant and the diners feed off of each other. In the worst of circumstances, they fight each other, and then, no matter how good the food may be, the experience doesn’t work as well as it might. Here then, are the restaurant meals of 2018 that occupy the fondest recesses of my recent memory.
Once again, as with previous years, I enjoyed many a special guest chef dinner (including a number that Rascal + Thorn produced), but I did not include those “one-off” experiences in my deliberations for this list, as fabulous as they were. Continue reading