Saturday, January 12, 2008

Gaztronomy Top Ten 2007

My wife and I love eating out. Since becoming vegetarian 15 or so years ago, my diet (believe it or not) has expanded as I found new ingredients and flavours to replace the "meat and two veg" diet that I had been brought up on.

Over the last few years the vegetarian food in restaurants has improved no end. No longer is the ubiquitous vegetable lasagne the only choice available, many restaurants are now offering exciting and tasty meat-free meals as part of their menu.

Some of the top chefs now offer amazingly imaginative and tasty food now in their restaurants and this is a list of my favourites that I visited in 2007.

1. Le Manoir aux Quat' Saisons
The afternoon we spent at Raymond Blanc's two Michelin Star restaurant was superb. The food and the setting were spectacular and it was wonderful to go back there to cook on one of their courses.

2. La Ginestra
I visited this organic restaurant during the course I did in Tuscany. Having previously toured the farm, it was wonderful to eat their home grown produce at their restaurant.

3. Thackerays
The best restaurant in Tunbridge Wells, no question. The food was imaginative and the service was great.

4. Boxwood Cafe
A Gordon Ramsay restaurant that has a vegetarian menu? And an impressive one at that. You'd better believe it!

5. Neal Street
Sadly, Antonio Carluccio's flagship restaurant has now closed, leaving a big hole in Covent Garden. I visited it just before it closed and had a fabulous meal there.

6. Locanda Locatelli
This is my wife's (who doesn't suffer from the same meat-free affliction that I have...) current favourite restaurant. There's not a lot of veggie stuff on the menu, but what there is, is fab. The atmosphere and service make this a cut above the rest.

7. Raj Pavillion
I think this is the best Indian restaurant in Tunbridge Wells. It has a really varied menu and the service when we went was great.

8. Terre a Terre
Brighton's no 1 veggie restaurant really shows what you can do with veggie food.

9. Carluccio's
For a chain of restaurants, Carluccio's is superb. The food and good service are consistant across all the branches I've been too and, on the odd occasion when thing haven't quite gone to plan, they have sorted it out with a "customer comes first" attitude that is all too rare these days.

10. Imli
Imli's "Indian Tapas" experience makes for an exciting and interesting meal, and the prices considering its London location, are extremely good.

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