The five best restaurants in the world

Mar 3rd
Posted by shambo  as Food, Travel

Let me say this about that.

Now, anyone who knows me well knows that I am no fan of eating out.¬† In my view, restaurants are places you go when 1) you have a wife that can’t cook, 2) you can’t cook, 3) you enjoy being demeaned by ‘actor wannabe’ waiters in ponytails, 4) you have more money than common sense, 5) good food is not high on your list of pleasures, 6) you enjoy waiting an hour and a half to be served cold food, or 7) as was the case in most of my 35 years experience eating out, you’ve just finished a 14 hour work day and you’re in a foreign country.

Before I retired, my work almost always required that I travel somewhere other than the town in which I lived.¬† Frequently, it involved travel to a foreign country.¬† In my estimation, I have eaten in restaurants over 11,000 times in my lifetime.¬† You could call me an expert.¬† You could call me¬†eminently qualified.¬† You could just say, I know what-the-hell I’m¬†talking about.

Of all the restaurants I have patronized around the world, there are less than 1%¬†I would go to any trouble to revisit.¬† And, in this blog, I’m going to share with you my five favorites in all the world.

Granted, any listing of superlatives is usually subjective and represents the opinion of the opinion-giver.  However, if the data base the opinion-giver is using is larger that 11,000 data points, you can pretty much figure there must be something to it.  And another thing  to consider, my favorite restaurants are MY favorites.  None of these have celebrity chefs.  None are world famous.  None has a batch of Michelin stars. 

My favorite restaurants have the following traits: 1) great food, 2) great service, and 3) great atmosphere.  But there is a 4th dimension to my favorite restaurants that is lacking in most restaurants, including the famous ones.  In my favorite restaurants, they make you feel like they are glad to see you.  To me, this MAKES a great restaurant.

So, here we go…¬†¬†¬† in ascending order, “Shambo’s Five Best Restaurants in the World”:

Haxnbauer 'Pig Knuckles" on open-fire grill

5)¬† The Haxnbauer – Munich, Germany:¬† The Haxnbauer could be called a ‘country cooking’ establishment serving traditional Bavarian food dating back several hundred years.¬† But their speciality is what the Germans call “Pig Knuckles”.¬† No, pigs don’t actually have ‘knuckles’, per se.¬† This is the local description for the joint between the ham and the lower leg of the pig.¬† After marinating in a concoction made from a 100 year old receipe, the Haxnbauer slow roasts these cuts of meat over an open wood-fired grill for several hours.¬† When served with garlic mashed potatoes, purple sauerkraut, and a cold Bavarian pilsner beer, it’s the closest you will ever get to an orgasm without the benefit of sex.¬† The Haxnbauer is located on Sparkassen Strasse, only about a three minute walk from the famous Glockenspiel located on top of the old Munich town hall in the Marienplatz.

East Coast Seafood Centre

4)¬† East Coast Seafood Centre – Singapore:¬† Most people would not believe it possible to include a restaurant that is an indoor / outdoor establishment on a list of ‘fine-dining’ establishments.¬† Brother, this is not ‘fine-dining’ – this is ‘great dining’.¬† The East Coast Seafood Centre is actually a collection of eight restaurants on the waterfront on the highway between downtown Singapore and Changi Airport (the source of fresh seafood flown in several times a day from around the world).¬† Many claim any one of the eight restaurants in the Centre serves the best ‘chili crab’ in the world.¬† That may be true, but if you want a memorable dining experience, try the Sri Lankan Pepper Crab.

Spanish Gardens

3)¬†¬†Spanish Gardens Cafe¬†- Islamorada, Florida:¬† Most folks are surprised to learn that the best Spanish Tapas restaurant in the world is located in the Florida Keys in the village of Islamorada.¬† Spanish Gardens Cafe¬†is very small (maybe room for 20 patrons), intimate, and inviting.¬† Oscar (part owner and ‘front-of-the-house’¬† man), personifies the “we’re glad you are here”¬† attitude missing in most restaurants.¬† Don’t know which wine to order?¬† Most waiters will suggest their favorite.¬† Oscar opens bottles and lets you sample until you find one you like.¬† Don’t know if you will like a particular dish?¬† Oscar produces samples until you decide.¬† Want to know how a dish is prepared.¬† Oscar brings the chef to your table to explain.¬† I’ve eaten tapas in Spain, and they don’t even come close.¬† Don’t miss the saffron scallops, or the pulpo gallego, or the peppadew peppers, or the white asparagus wrapped in smoked salmon, or the …..

7 e Vin

2)¬† 7 e Vin – Paris, France:¬† There are many restaurants in Paris that serve great food, many accompanied by great atmosphere.¬† But there are hardly any that provide great service and only one (that I have found) that possess the secret ingredient – “we’re glad you’re here”.¬† At 7 e Vin, you are greeted at the door by Olivier and asked at which of the only eight tables you would like to sit.¬† Choose wisely, because you are going to be there for a while.¬† Olivier then brings a couple of chalk boards to your table containing the days offerings and new wines he has discovered that would make a great pairing.¬† I usually gorge my way through escargot and¬†duck liver pate’ appetizers before taking a wine break and deciding on an entre’.¬† The last time there I selected the ‘veal stew’.¬† It was unworldly.¬† A fine fillet cut into small portions and served in a sauce made with cream, butter, red wine, angel’s wings, puppy kisses and grandma hugs.¬† I can’t deny I have actually gone to Paris just to eat there.

Feringgi Grill

1)¬† The Feringgi Grill, Rasa Sayong Resort – Penang, Malaysia:¬† Penang is a small mountainous island off the northwest coast of Malaysia.¬† Twenty years ago, Japanese and American electronic companies built factories on the island to take advantage of a free-trade zone set up by the Malaysian government and the low labor rate.¬† Today, most of Penang caters to the tourist trade.¬† The Feringgi Grill is located within the Rasa Sayong Resort, noted for it’s world class service. On one visit, I checked into my room only to find a birthday cake on the desk with “Happy Birthday Mr. Shambo” written in icing on top.¬† I discovered that when I checked into the hotel on a previous visit, the desk clerk had noted my birthday on my passport and recorded it in the event I ever stayed there again and it happened to be my birthday – now that’s a giant “we’re glad you’re here !!”¬† The Feringgi Grill goes even further.¬† After being escorted to your table by the maitre’d, your waiter lays out dining choices that Caligula would envy.¬† I don’t think I have ever eaten at the Feringgi Grill when I did not just tell the waiter to bring whatever the chef would order.¬† I was always blown away.¬† Combine the best of French and Asian cuisine and you get¬†The Feringgi Grill.¬† Without doubt, the best restaurant in the world.

And, that’s all I have to say about that.

Shambo

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6 Comments

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