What was your Best Meal ever?
The best meal I have ever had was our anniversary last year. My wife and I went to Smith and Wollensky's in Boston. We were in a mood to celebrate (34th anniversary) and up to that point, the best steakhouse we had ever tried was Ruths Chris. The castle in Boston was the perfect ambiance, and the steaks we had (dry aged) we absolutely fantastic! The wait team got in to the act and we all had a ball! We spent a lot, (~$300) but we don't do it often and had a great time. Then we spent the night at the Copley Plaza
Four years ago, we went to Manuel's on the 28th in downtown Orlando while on vacation.
We arrived at just in time to enjoy the sunset--simply stunning as was the cuisine. Our servers were most accomodating and not at all stuffy as we had read about in other reviews. We thoroughly enjoyed the prix fixe meal selections with wine pairings for each course from appetizers to dessert. The duck confit was a rich blend of tastes and textures. The filet mignon with rosemary in lemon herb butter was exquisite. Their chocolate lava cake was a chocoholic's decadent dream. Mmmmmmmmmmmmm. Bliss!
Manuel's On the 28th
390 N Orange Ave # 2800, Orlando, FL
I think there are 2 types of "best meals ever", neither being better than the other.
1) Fine dining in fine clothing with silk pocket squares, linen napkins, a bejeweled and radiant lady, both equally enraptured, and the ambrosia and nectar and fine service begins.
2) Conclusion of a rigorous, week-long, mano-a-mano showdown with nature in a hostile & challenging environment, successfully punctuated by a hot shower and a hot meal of just about anything.
A few years back my Husband I went to Blance on Martha's Vineyard and my husband still calls that his BEST Meal to date.
Mine is harder for I have so many great meals so I will itemize them:
Best Burger Les Halles
Best Pasta and Sweetbreads at Babbo's
Best Steak Peter Lugers
Best Oyster Tuna's in Ft. Lauderdale (they top it with horseradish cream and two types of caviar)
Best Lobster Lobster Dock in Boothbay Harbor Maine - Just so fresh
Best Stone Crab Joes in Miami
Best Sushi 15 East, that was a truly GREAT night, what an experience!
Best Fried Clams Umbertos in Little Italy
Thanks for the Boston info, will give Smith and Wollensky's a try this summer
I went to Umbertos for a first date with the man I have now been married to for 17 years! It was my best meal, but I can't tell you one thing I ate that night. I guess my point is my best meals are usually because of the company, not just the food. Enchant her and it won't matter where you go.
I'd say there's one more type of "best meal ever"--categorized by memories of homemade fare shared with family who are no longer here. I still remember writing in my diary (and I never kept one long) about a meal I had in about 8th grade when both my grandparents were still alive. We had a delicious turkey breast and turnips and all the fixin's and, in its own nostalgic way, it was also one of my best meals ever...and even if we were just eating a ham sandwich, what I wouldn't give to be sitting down to eat a meal with my grandparents again. :)
to veggo's point:
six of us were on a small island off the coast of south korea. we were staying at a nondescript yoguan in a fishing village no one has heard of. i spent the day as an apprentice on a local fishing boat, others hiked all over the place. we met back at the inn and shared dinner in a small room with a dirt floor. the room's only light came from a bare bulb hanging from a cord in the ceiling. the owner served us course after course of the freshest seafood i have ever encountered. it was a feast. when over, we asked her to do it all over again.
few things beat catching fish when you're sailing, dropping the hook at an isolated anchorage just before sunset and cooking up a storm on the stern.
i like restaurants a lot. i just have a hard time picking out one restaurant meal as the best.
"2) Conclusion of a rigorous, week-long, mano-a-mano showdown with nature in a hostile & challenging environment, successfully punctuated by a hot shower and a hot meal of just about anything" - oh, yes! You just brought back a truly ancient memory, of going with an anti-drug group I was hanging with (along with a bunch of other inveterate stoners) on a two-day hike through Yosemite's Tuolumne Meadows. Not too awfully mano-a-mano nor rigorous, but a lot of walking at high altitude. After we'd come back to town, the program's director, a very nice if bossy older woman, treated us all to a proper roast beef dinner at Sonora's best restaurant, with the rare prime rib and the roasted potatoes and the Yorkshire pudding and all. No wine, of course, but even the veggies among us tucked right in.
I can usually pluck one meal out as the best of any given year, but the best EVER? I've had too many really good ones, of too many different kinds, to answer that one.
"Best meal" for me is a bit of shifting sands - it's about absolutely the right food at absolutely the right time in absolutely the right company, (etc). Oh, and my tastes and desired experiences have changed over the years and continue to evolve.
So, a lamb shawarma lunch at a small kebab takeaway/cafe on Manchester's curry mile with no more company than the morning newspaper was "best meal" last week. Another recent "best meal" was at a Michelin starred place in Chester in the company of the love of my life. I wouldnt like to put one meal above the other.
A little over a year ago, four of us went to Peter X. Kelly's X2O in Yonkers, NY. We each ordered an app, entree & dessert. Not only were my three selections excellent, but I got a taste of my 3 dining companions choices (which were equally good.) Once you throw in the service & Hudson River view, it adds up to #1 restaurant experience I've had.
so much of what goes into this determination is context and company, not just the food itself. one of the honest to goodness best meals i ever had was in college, when my SO and i canoed out to a small island and roasted hot dogs over a campfire. we had that with whatever crappy bottle of wine we could afford at the time (chileans and argentinians were still dirt cheap, so probably one of those, or maybe it was boone's) and fell asleep watching the stars move across the sky.
the first time i ate at wd 50 (a micrograstronomy restaurant in nyc that half of all diners love and the other half hate) was also remarkable -- something i will remember for the rest of my life. i hadn't ever had the full blown micragastronomical experience, before, and the meal really engaged me in every way. i have since eaten at alinea, which i agree is better, but the first time is what you remember. it helped that i had the meal with my SO, who also loved the experience.
and then more recently, i went home to my parents for the first time in years (they have been visiting me for holidays). the first night back, i got in very late and mom had prepared a beautiful hot pot meal, which we all shared in the old, yellow kitchen i grew up eating in.
those are three of my best meals, ever... i won't say that these meals included the best food i ever ate, but they are some of the most fondly remembered.
My profile lists a memorable meal I had at Grill on the Alley, but even the great expense is a pittance for what I would give to sit down once again to my grandmother's empanadas and hopia. And even that doesn't compare to the last dinner party I threw my senior year of college. After years of serving exotic biryanis and pretty canapés, my best friend took charge of my kitchen to show me the proper way to make chicken francese for a dozen friends. We sat down to a table filled with waiting plates, magnums of intolerably cheap wine, a tiramisu and memories I still keep with me to this day.
seafood restaurant overlooking the water in vancouver, BC. three friends and I were visiting from california, and we saw an ad in the local paper for the restaurant which said 50% off entire bill (including alcohol) before 4pm. we arrived at 3:55pm and confirmed that we would receive the 50% price for our entire bill since we got there before 4pm.
we proceeded to gorge ourselves on all manner of seafood and strong drink, all at 50% off of the already cheap canadian prices (the US dollar was very strong relative to the canadian dollar at the time). one of our friends ordered an oyster entree, didn't like it, and decided to order lobster instead b/c it was cheap enough to just call a mulligan on the oysters.
at the end of our seafood and alcohol-fueled frenzy we asked if we could smoke the cuban cigars outside on the open air patio, but were told that the patio was closed. after a little cajoling our waiter (by this time our original waittress's shift had ended) opened the patio just for us, and we proceeded to smoke the cigars and enjoy some fine XO cognac (i believe it was hennesy) on our own private oceanfront oasis. i think the total bill ended up being somewhere around US$170 for about 3 hours of madness. we tipped the waiter about $50 or so (and gave him another tip to deliver to the original waittress) and he was rather floored.
pretty cool experience for a couple of otherwise poor 21 year olds!!!
To choose one is almost impossible. However, one memorable meal was a xmas lunch for a group I work in at a start up company. The boss rented a private room at maggianno's. Now, I've had better italian food then maggianno dishes up but the meal (the pace, the conversation and fun) is hard to match. Meal started 11:30 and I believe we left around 3:30 on a snowy december. It took me 2 hours to drive home but it was worth it. We spent the whole afternoon eating drinking and playing gift related games with coworkers we actually liked. Excellent stroll down memory lane.
Nothing gourmet by any means..but the meal was so good that my husband and I still dream about it to this day. A whole-in-the-wall shack in ME where they boil their lobsters/steamers in saltwater over a wood fire. Everything is a la carte, including extra melted butter for dipping. We sat outside at a picnic table and chowed. We both had butter and lobster juices streaming down our arms. It was the best lobster and steamers we've ever eaten. We ended the evening at a local ice cream shop where we got a slice of warm homemade blueberry pie with rock hard vanilla ice cream on top. We've had some fantastic dinners, but the simplicity of this one is what made it so great.
Ther American Club in Kohler Wisconsin. Amazing 5 star dining. Each of got something different and shared. I had a buffalo appetizer, another had a duck appetizer, Ostrich and sea bass and wild lamb and everything was just simply amazing ... grapefruit sorbet between every course. The most amazing wine selection. It was and un real experience. It is built below ground and each room is different. Dutch, French, Italian. The rooms reflect the immigrants that came there. A totally dining experience. My lobster bisque was made table side and the entire tail was cut right there, then the soup was served in the shell. Fresh cream heated right on a small plate, the sherry and wow, what can I say. It was great company, fantastic history, fabulous food, an experience.
The meal that immediately jumped to mind perhaps qualifies as "most memorable" if not "best ever"...
On our last trip to England, we were treated to multiple dinners in the homes of dear friends. All were wonderful! The most memorable was prepared by our dear friend, Elspeth. She's a bit of an "icon" in the world of greyhounds in the UK and she has wonderful stories to tell!
The menu included partridge (I'd never tasted it before), swede (I learned this is what we call rutabaga) and many other wonderful dishes. Dessert was a fabulous treacle tart. The food was enjoyed, along with the fabulous company, in Elspeth's charming dining room, decorated with the memorabilia of her long life spent loving dogs.
I felt so blessed to be there, amongst those people, learning about foods I'd not tasted before, laughing until I cried over Elspeth's stories of her life in sport and crying real tears over the stories of the great dogs she bred.
One of Elspeth's dogs graces my couch. Now, I just need to get her recipes for the partridge and treacle tart!
I can think of a couple. One is the first time I ever tasted lasagne ~~ career day in 11th grade at Serafini's Restaurant in Erie PA. (still there)
Another is anything at the now-defunct Robaire's on La Brea in Los Angeles, especially thier canape Robaire
There have been many and I hope are many more to come! The best restaurant meal I've enjoyed so far would have to be at Morimoto in Philadelphia. I still wonder if Chef Masaharu Morimoto himself was cooking that night - the food was unbelievable.
Mr. B and I had flown into Philly on a very spur of the moment trip to pick up a used car he had just purchased on Ebay and drive it a long ways back home. (The car fell apart two years later, but that's another story!). It was his birthday, and I wanted to celebrate by going somewhere fancy so we managed to land a reservation for two at Morimoto with little advance notice. Since we were within walking distance of our hotel, we splurged and enjoyed the tasting menu along wtih beverage pairings. It was the best meal either one of us has had before or since. The fish, in particular, was sublime. Especially a young fatty tuna that haunts my tastebuds years later. What an experience!
My best meal ever is too difficult to pinpoint. However, the best entree I've ever eaten was just over a year ago at Matyson in Philadelphia. It was a Thai seafood stew with winter vegetables. In the center was a perfectly cooked piece of snapper with a spicy peanut crust. I still dream of it...
Impossible to answer:
- XLB on a stool in Beijing at 4 in the morning by myself, slightly (maybe philosophically) drunk.
- An amazingly intricate feast with great friends at some upscale Lebanese restaurant in Beirut.
- Anniversary dinner with my SO at Bearfoot Bistro, in Whistler.
- Splurging at Bern's Steak House, Tampa
- The most amazingly beautiful fish curry i've ever eaten in Bombay.
So many more. Whenever time, place, company, and food come together.. it's hard to differentiate what's best.
My best meal just happened a month ago at mine and my husband's wedding reception in Northern Italy. We went to da Gigetto in Miane (province of Treviso),and had a meal that I won't soon forget.
1) Hen pate with gelatin of pomegranate, accompanied by black salt, some micro greens, pomegranate seeds and some dots of apricot jam.
2) Loose yellow polenta, topped with a zucchini flower filled with wild mushrooms and foie gras, the whole thing wrapped in lard and baked, then topped with a crisp pancetta spear.
1) Leek soup on one half of the bowl, and potato soup on the other half, drizzled with olive oil and topped with crispy fried leeks
2) Tortelloni stuffed with a coin of "cotechino", with a beet puree underneath, and topped with a crispy cracker of bread crumbs and fennel seed
3)Risotto with pancetta and radicchio di Treviso tardivo, and a Bordelais sauce. (I can't have dairy so I was served some of the most sublime and light gnocchi made with squash, with an olive oil and sage sauce)
1) Scappino (incredibly tender cut of veal that hails from the neck/shoulder) draped on top of mashed potatoes and chanterelles
2) Loose "bianco perla" white polenta, topped with a beautiful duck leg, accompanied with some grilled radicchio di treviso tardivo, and a parsnip chip
1) Disks of Sicilian oranges, with a Grand Marnier drizzle and some dark chocolate chips and a small hunk of the most delicious candied orange.
2)Our wedding cake: Meringata di Cioccolato. Layers of meringue and chocolate sponge and chocolate mousse. (Best cake I have ever tasted in my life....even though i couldn't eat it....just tasted and spit out)
Obviously the atmosphere of the day and the company had a lot to do with it as well, and the fact that I have NEVER experienced better service in my life. It was definitely a day I will never forget.
A duck confit dish with house-made sausage, all on a bed of leeks. Had it at "Range," a one michelin star restaurant in San Francisco. Phenomenal dish-- it has yet to be topped!
The best meal I have ever had
I was 9 years old visiting my grandmother in Buffalo, she had come to America in the early 1900's from Sicily.
We spent the morning picking herbs & vegetable from her garden, watched her dip the tomatoes in boiling water then put them in a bowl of ice water, peel and remove the seeds then run some of them through a food mill and crush the rest by hand,
She cut up the vegetables and cooked them in olive oil before adding the tomatoes and herbs.
She made meatballs, browned them in a cast iron skillet before adding them to the sauce, then browned pork ribs and added them to the sauce, lastly put a dozen eggs in a pot on the stove along with a pot of water.
While the sauce was simmering, and the eggs where cooking she made a pile of flour on the kitchen table, used her fingers to make a well in the middle of the flour and broke two eggs into it.
She worked the flour into the egg until there was a ball of dough, she kneaded this dough a bit then covered it with a tea towel, removed the pot of eggs from the stove, strained them and filled the pot with cold water and tossed a hand-full of salt into the pot of boiling water.
Rolled the dough into a sheet and cut it with a knife, after putting the noodles into the pot of salted water, she peeled the eggs and put them in the sauce.
The eggs, meatballs and pork where put on the table in separate bowls, the pasta tossed in the sauce before it was put on the table next to a bowl of sauce.
Hey, I want to tell you all that reading these posts and visualizing some of the meals (and experiences!) has been very interesting. That's why I started this thread!
I know a lot of people think of elaborate meals, and I've had those. But my most memorable meals were:
1.Sitting in a Singapore kopi tiam on River Valley Road at dawn, eating roti canai with curry sauce and a big glass of sweetened hot tea, SE Asian style;
2. Eating a freshly made chapati with curry sauce in a tiny cafe in Eastern Malaysia; and
3. A New Years' Eve king crab casserole made by my then mother's-in-law next door neighbor, whose husband was an executive in a seafood company. Best king crab I've ever had;
4. Sunday curry lunches at Elsamere (the home of the late Joy Adamson of Born Free fame) on the shores of Lake Naivasha in Kenya, where the cook would make the best paratha I've ever had and they'd serve huge fresh fruit salads with the most humongous blackberries. People would start lining up a half hour early just to make sure they'd get a paratha.
When we got married three and a half years ago, it wasn't exactly an elopement, but we were on vacation and it was rather impromptu. After the 'ceremony' in the rustic store owned by the county representative we'd reached on the phone, we drove the few miles back into Gatlinburg and went into an older breakfast place on the main drag for crepes, which I'm pretty sure we'd never had before. I think husband had some kind of tropical crepe with pineapple, and I probably had cherry, but it's more fun to remember how goofy we felt that day. "You're a 'husband'!' :)
My late father used to tell about when his unit liberated a former sardine factory in Nazi Germany - after living on WWII Army rations for a long time, there was quite a sardine feast that day, apparently!!
I went to Canoe in Toronto with my dad to celebrate moving to a new city. First course was seared fois gras on top of some chicken liver sandwiched between two slices of brioche french toast, with lingonberry and birch beer sauces. Main course was Alberta lamb. Roasted loin, lasagna made with braised meat, and a lamb meat ball speared with a sprig of rosemary. I will never forget the lasagna. It had the most intense meatiness I had ever experienced up to that date. I have since had that same flavour at Mistura in Gnocci with a pulled veal cheek ragu. I guess that's what the japanese call Umami. Desert at Canoe was a sticky toffee pudding with even more lingonberries, and a tuile of butterscotch with BACON in it! It was off the hook!
Chope d'Orsay, Paris, April 1973. Walked in the door, wood floors, wood walls, gorgeous friendly collie wagging her tail at us. Spouse of chef comes out to welcome us. Bare wood table, bare wood chairs. Opener, we selected cold sausage assortment. I was dreading frou-frou refined something or other. Huge wicker basket w/ whole salami (or whatever French equivalent is called). Cutting board, knife, large crock of perfect cornichons, basket of baguette pieces. Have at it. We could easily have made a meal of this--it was all wonderful. Then tomats provencale. Wonderful tomatoes w/ the usual treatment, but just perfect. Inexpensive Bordeaux Superior. chateaubriand for two w/ bearnaise sauce. I don't remember the specifics of the steak, except that it was very good. But the bearnaise--mercy. Never had anything like it since. Very thick, room temperature. Large chunks of tarragon. Incredibly good. All said and done, the three stars of the meal were: the sausage basket, the bearnaise, and THE COLLIE.