2014 was another superb year of dining for me, although it wasn’t because I was particularly successful in hitting up my wish list. Compared to 2013, I did a very poor job of that, only making it to one of my Top 10 – Pakta, which was everything I hoped it would be and more. I was more fortunate, however, in making it to a number of places on my Honorable Mentions list including Daikaya, Estela, Quintonil and Rose’s Luxury. For 2015 I will have to try to find a way to get to some of the more difficult places to get to. That said, I am not even bothering to list restaurants in Asia, Australia or New Zealand as barring a miracle, once again, they will be out of my reach. In the meantime, here are the restaurants, new to me, that I most want to visit in 2015.
- Hoja Santa/Niño Viejo – Barcelona, Spain – the newest restaurants of the Albert Adria empire in Barcelona, they are two restaurants under a single theme of Mexican. Adriá has the golden touch and employs world class chefs who know what they are doing within a cuisine. In this case, Paco Mendez, from Mexico, has been working with Albert for quite a while to get the place to where they were happy with it. It’s great to see one of the world’s greatest cuisines, Mexican, getting the respect that it deserves. I can’t wait to experience how Adriá, Mendez and company interpret it. I already have my reservations! For the purposes of this list, I am counting them as one restaurant.
- Willows Inn – Lummi Island, Washington – Timing is everything and despite my intense desire to get there, I have not yet been able to do it. Will 2015 finally be the year? I certainly hope so!
- Riverstead – Chilhowie, VA – John Shields is back in the game, crafting beautiful dinners one weekend per month, back in the area where he and his wife, Karen, made names for themselves and a huge fan out of me at Town House. The big issue here is logistics and timing.
- Disfrutar – Barcelona, Spain – Oriol Castro, Eduard Xatruch and Mateu Casañas were instrumental in the success of elBulli over the years. After elBulli, the started Compartir in Cadaques and have now moved to Barcelona.
- Relae – Copenhagen, Denmark – This leads a long list of restaurants in Scandinavia that I have a burning desire to dine at. I have heard too many wonderful things from friends who have been, for this to not be on this list.
- D.O.M. – Another perennial placer on this list. Returning to South America is a personal priority and relatively affordable. I’m optimistic.
- Azurmendi – Bilbao, Spain – No chef is getting more raves in Spain right now than Eneko Atxa. I’m dying to see for myself.
- Abac – Barcelona, Spain – I dined at Abac almost ten years ago, but it was in a different place and with a different chef, so it doesn’t count. Knowledgable friends think that under Jordi Cruz, this may be Barcelona’s first Michelin three star restaurant.
- Central – Lima, Peru – I have tasted Virgilio Martinez’ food a number of times in a number of places, but not yet at his main restaurant.
- Dill, Reykjavik, Iceland – This year’s StarChefs inspiration goes to Gunnar Karl Gíslason and his Icelandic restaurant, Dill. Reports are strongly positive and his presentation, inspirational.
In years past I had included Honorable Mentions, but the reality is that I can’t keep up and there are too many to list but a few. I had started to do just that and realized that it was an impossible chore. One city in the US that I MUST make a concerted effort to return to is Chicago, as the city has exploded with a ton of interesting new restaurants to which I have not yet been. San Francisco and Los Angeles also have continued to explode since I have last been there. In Europe, London, Paris and Copenhagen lead the way. Countries and cuisines that I yearn to visit for the first time include Austria, Greece, Poland, Finland, Iceland, Turkey, Morocco (I was there for a day when I was 14 years old – doesn’t count), Australia and all of AustralAsia. Too many restaurants, too many countries, too little time (and money)…