Our favourite ELEVEN of 2011

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2011 – What an indulgent year of eating!!

Not only did one half of Gourmet Belly literally *pop* (Freya is her name), we really pushed the boat out this year in terms of fine dining, travelling across continents just to experience some of the San Pellegrino top restaurants of the world.

We had an incredible 5 hour lunch at Noma in Copenhagen (ranked #1), and got a tour around their kitchen, dined at Daniel in NYC (ranked #11), and saw the talented Daniel Boulud fluttering around the dining room; and finally made it to Quay in Sydney (ranked #26), to enjoy the majestic views of Sydney Harbour while devouring the world-famous Snow Egg, to name just a few.

These certainly were exceptional meals, with two of these now sitting very comfortably in my personal list of “Best Dining Experience of My Life”…so far, and definitely most expensive 😉

So without further adieu, as we sit here in our stretchy pants, we present to you in no particular order, the remaining eight of our eleven favourite meals (of varying price ranges), that filled Gourmet Belly:

Koya ~ London, United Kingdom

Since opening in Spring 2010, Koya has been the dinner destination of choice particularly when we have international guests dropping by London.

Specialists in udon noodles, this Japanese restaurant keeps the decor basic, shifting the focus to its food. The udon noodles are made fresh on the premises everyday in the traditional Japanese way, by kneading their dough by foot.

Our favourite dish is the Beef brisket Udon Noodles with an onsen egg on the side, and if the Sake Clams with Samphire are on the specials board, then you absolutely have to order it!

Koya on Urbanspoon

Turners of Harbourne ~ Birmingham, United Kingdom

Probably the best valued Michelin Starred meal I’ve had to date.

We had such a lovely 3 course lunch which included an assortment of amouse bouche, pre desserts and matching wines – all for just £35!

The creamed celeriac with hazelnut foam pre starter, and the seabass and gnocchi topped with shaved white truffle mains, were both perfectly executed and totally moreish.

My dining companions and I ordered differently for each course, and were pleasantly surprised by the calibre of all the dishes served in the intimate surrounds of Turners. Service was exceptional, and our Spanish waiters knowledge on their cheese offerings – incredible!

Put Turners on your list if you are ever in the Birmingham area.

Turners on Urbanspoon

Koch & Vin ~ Gothenburg City, Sweden

This was the second trip to Gothenburg City this year, and the city’s food offerings continue to WOW. We came here specifically for the Liseberg Christmas Markets, but as true foodies, still managed to squeeze in a sumptuous 4 course modern Scandinavian meal with wine pairings at Michelin starred Koch & Vin, in between reindeer kebabs and hot dogs topped with mash and prawn cocktail.

Voted one of Sweden’s top ten restaurants, the seasonal menu here at Kock & Vin showcases local produce, so expect to see lingonberries, lobster and moose on the menu.

I particularly enjoyed the daily catch of weever fish served with kale and shellfish bouillon, raw shrimps and topped with dustings of roasted shrimp shells.

A warm welcoming environment, these guys really go the extra mile by offering a gluten-free selection of breads too, so everyone, regardless of dietary requirements are kept equally happy!

The Mayor of Scaredy Cat Town ~ London, United Kingdom

They say it’s important to have a balanced diet, so we’ve been taking one for the team this year, and spent countless nights exploring the drinking scene to keep the fluids up for all of you…

The Mayor of Scaredy Cat Town is a fun yet quirky, speakeasy-style cocktail bar, so cool that you have to walk through a SMEG fridge to get into.

Go for the Rosie and Gin, or go off menu and ask for a French Martini. It’s definitely less about the food and more about the drinks and good vibes here. Great date place, but be warned, no heavy petting allowed.

Vintage Patisserie ~ London, United Kingdom

For a lady-like affair and a tea party with a difference, check out Vintage Patisserie who will transform you back to the magic and decadence of the 1920’s.

Hosted by the fabulous Angel Adoree, we sipped champagne tea, ate freshly baked scones with dollops of clotted cream and jam, personalised chocolates and cupcakes, and the usual sandwich suspects normally found on a high tea menu.

All this food, was accompanied by a 1920’s soundtrack as we played dress ups from the vintage trunk, and had victory rolls, curls, and makeup styled by Angel and her gorgeous staff.

A genius idea, and at only £45 per person, it’s the perfect girly afternoon for any occasion.

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Opera Tavern ~ London, United Kingdom
Sliders (or mini burgers) seemed to be one of the buzz words of 2011. Everyone was serving them, but only a few managed to serve them well.

Opera Tavern, located in London’s Covent Garden is one of these. Their iberico pork foie gras sliders served medium rare hit all the right notes, and the addition of the shaved foie gras gives it that extra juiciness. Topped with melted aged manchego cheese, and a garlicky aoili and home-made onion jam below, this little gem is definitely the star of the show.

The crispy Iberico pigs ears, San Daniele ham, and Truffle Pecorino cheese were also the ideal accompaniment to a nice big glass of Rioja.

Opera Tavern on Urbanspoon

Bar Zeruko ~ San Sebastian, Spain
Any one that loves food, and Tapas in general should have ticked, or have high on their EAT list, the Spanish town of San Sebastian.
Late this summer, armed with a group of foodie friends, we spent 3 blissful sunny days swimming at the beach, rested our bellies on a surfboard, but mainly ate some cheap but incredible pintxos at every opportunity (read: while we weren’t sleeping).
Bar Zeruko was a nice new find for this trip in one of the back streets, specialising in modern pintxos. An impressive array of beautifully presented pintxos are displayed on the bench top. From gold dipped artichokes, sea urchin, tempura langostines, every dish we ordered was superb, but the foie gras dishes…plate licking gorgeousness. Try the seared foie with squid and also the foie with medium rare beef – oh my…DELISH!

#MEATEASY ~ London, United Kingdom

I love London for the food options available to us. Good food doesn’t have to come in fancy surroundings or in a restaurant for that matter, and London best represents this eating ethos with street food and pop-up restaurants giving the permanent fixtures a run for their money.

#MEATEASY was probably one of the most talked about (and successful) Pop-Ups of 2011. Serving freshly minced beef patty burgers, gigantic fluffy onion rings and cocktails shaken with flair served in jam jars; for us, it still remains one of the most memorable burgers consumed in London, and definitely the best onion ring goodness – dare I say…EVER!

Fear not for those that missed the experience. The team behind #Meateasy have resurrected the buzz in the form of @MeatLiquor, a permanent fixture in Marylebone.
We’ll probably lose some friends amongst the Twitterati, but I didn’t think the standard of the burgers or the onion rings were nearly as good as the original at #MEATEASY. That said, the Fried Pickles, Buffalo Wings and the Momofuku inspired Crack Pie are certainly worth dropping in for a casual meal with a great atmosphere.

#Meateasy on Urbanspoon

So there you have it – a round-up of our favourite eats of 2011.

Here at Gourmet Belly, our meals are seldom sponsored in exchange for favourable reviews, and we’d like to think that our palates extend well beyond fine dining. In fact, we’re actually happiest when we’re sharing good food with great friends…from all walks of life…

A huge THANKS to you all for the continued feedback and support, tweets and foodie suggestions over the past year. The encouragement has certainly been overwhelming but appreciated, and we take great comfort in knowing that our waistlines are expanding together.
Finally, a shout out to our guest writers this year – Chris Cokalis, Andy Wright and Jacqueline Leko – can’t wait to eat together again soon.
Here’s to an exciting 2012 full of great food and drink shared with friends, and we hope that everything your bellies desire are ful-FILLED!
Lots of Love,
Gourmet Belly xx


2 Comments Add yours

  1. Guan says:

    Awesome blog the both of you have here and really enjoyed reading this round up. Couldn’t agree with you more on Bar Zeruko which I also hit while I was in San Sebastian last yr! (I’m still withdrawing from the sight of all those wonderful modern-style Pintxos they have decked out)!


    1. Thanks for taking the time to read our blog, and glad you’re enjoying having your belly fed =)
      Absolutely LOVE San Sebastian, and plan to go back again and again for the incredible pintxos x


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