Features

Let’s eat out

1 Apr 2022 by Hannah Brandler
Menorca Experimental – Credit Karel Balas

After mastering the art of banana bread and sourdough starter during the pandemic, the appetite is certainly back for dining out. Here we round up the foodie destinations to aim for this year, with exciting openings and events celebrating their gastronomy scene.

MENORCA, SPAIN

The Mediterranean island has been selected as this year’s European Destination for Gastronomy by the International Institute of Gastronomy, Culture, Arts and Tourism (IGCAT) thanks to its rich gastronomy, local ingredients and focus on sustainability – the island was designated a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 1993, after all.

To celebrate, it is holding more than 50 foodie events this year, including wine fairs, visits to tourist attractions in Alaior paired with traditional Menorcan cuisine, and a series of guided tours to the Finca Sa Bassa farm. Whatever you do, don’t miss Menorcan specialities arroz moro (Moorish rice) or caldereta, a lobster stew invented by fishermen and later jazzed up by local chefs.

If you’re feeling homesick, you can even savour Gin de Menorca – a legacy of British rule in the 18th century – produced traditionally in old copper stills heated over wood fires. The Experimental group’s outpost on the Balearic Island is also worth visiting, offering fresh and seasonal produce from its on-site garden and bespoke cocktails made exclusively with local ingredients.

ISTANBUL, TURKEY

The Turkish capital showcases flavours from across the country as well as cuisine from the East and West. New additions to the city include Thai restaurant and bar Cok Cok, situated within the Soho House Istanbul complex and former location of the American consulate in the Beyoglu district. Adventure into the past with a visit to its bar and dining room, respectively named after Ernest Hemingway and Agatha Christie, and dine amid illustrations of tropical botanicals from the golden age of travel.

The city’s new Galataport Istanbul destination in the port area also boasts 20,800 sqm of food and beverage venues – travellers can enjoy dolma, boregi and kofte at Bodrum-based restaurant Sait, or opt for the entertainment value of the gold-encrusted fare at Salt Bae Burger (an offshoot of the famous Nusr-Et Steakhouse). The district’s Post Office Fashion Galleria, formerly used as a passenger terminal, also offers the chance to purchase baklava, Turkish coffees and Turkish Delight.

World of Wine, Porto

PORTO, PORTUGAL

This northern Portuguese city in the Douro region is brimming with riverside eateries and opportunities to taste its famed export and namesake. The latest addition to the Porto district is the £100 million World of Wine (WOW) attraction in the historic centre of Vila Nova de Gaia. Built from the area’s old Port wine cellars, it has expanded to 55,000 sqm since its debut in 2020 to include seven museums – the latest dedicated to rosé – 12 restaurants, bars and cafés, and a wine school with regular tastings and workshops.

Follow up your visit with a pasteis de nata (custard tart) and a traditional hearty francesinha sandwich – the “little Frenchie” is the country’s take on the croque monsieur, with fillings of ham, sausage and steak, all topped with a fried egg and a cheese sauce (plus fries, of course). For a more gourmet experience, the recently reopened two Michelin-starred The Yeatman Gastronomic Restaurant serves up creative twists on traditional Portuguese flavours, or enjoy Vila Foz, a new addition to the Michelin guide, located in a 19th century mansion overlooking the Atlantic.

Credo in Trondheim – Credit Geir Mogen

TRONDHEIM AND TRONDELAG, NORWAY

Along with Menorca, the region of Trondheim and Trondelag has been named European Region of Gastronomy 2022, marking Norway’s debut in the listing. With a landscape spanning mountains, oceans, fjords and forests, the region is filled with farm shops along with three Michelin-starred restaurants. Fagn offers both fine dining and bistro-quality food, with 10- and 20-course tasting menus on the first floor, and more reasonably priced and simple fare on the second floor.

Credo, meanwhile, serves 20-25 courses from chef Heidi Bjerkan in a former tank factory amid trendy graffiti interiors. Speilsalen, meaning Mirror Hall, from chef Christopher Davidsen is located at the Britannia Hotel and features more traditionally posh interiors, reminiscent of a palace ballroom, and the Nordic region’s only caviar bar. Keep an eye out for the Trondelag Food Festival from July 28-30 which will include more than 200 local food producers and cooking classes at the Britannia Hotel.

Penny Squares, London

LONDON, ENGLAND

The English capital had a promising start to the year, with the Michelin Guide announcing seven new one-star restaurants in London, along with additional stars for modern British restaurant The Clove Club in Shoreditch, and West African restaurant Ikoyi in St James’s. Plus, the city saw the return of Notting Hill establishment The Ledbury, the two-Michelin-starred site which closed during the pandemic. On the hotel side, modern British restaurant Penny Squares debuted at Canopy by Hilton London City last month. It offers a sharing-style menu featuring sustainably sourced produce, such as madras octopus and larger plates including a crusted rack of lamb with ras el hanout spices.

Exciting developments this year include chef Bjorn Frantzen’s first UK outpost within the prestigious Harrods store and sustainable zero-waste cooking at Apricity in Mayfair from Chantelle Nicholson, while the revamped Grade II-listed Battersea Power Station will welcome the likes of posh kebab joint Le Bab and Gordon Ramsay’s Bread Street Kitchen, along with a 1,858 sqm food hall in the former boiler room.

La Felicità - Crédit photo Jérôme Galland

PARIS, FRANCE

The land of wine and cheese does not disappoint with its culinary delights across the capital – from Michelin-starred eateries to food halls and bijou bars. Casual eateries include the bustling covered market Marché des Enfants Rouges in the upper Marais district, which dates back to 1628, and the immense 4,500 sqm La Felicita food hall from the Big Mamma Group within the Station F complex in the 13th arrondissement – think Italian cuisine amid Instagrammable backdrops.

If you’re feeling a bit more extravagant, make your way to Le Train Bleu – a glamorous brasserie within the hall of the Gare de Lyon railway station, decked out with frescoed ceilings, chandeliers, and gold accents. Or gaze at the city from a window table at the Michelin-starred Le Jules Verne restaurant on the second floor of the Eiffel Tower, located 125m above the ground.

Meanwhile, the newly relaunched La Samaritaine department store devotes its entire fifth floor to food, with ten outlets including a private dining room from Krug Champagne. Savour the city’s best offerings at the forthcoming Taste of Paris event at the Grand Palais Ephémère from May 12-15.

Soul Street Dubai

DUBAI, UAE

As the city’s 2020 World Expo draws to a close, there’s still plenty to enjoy in the Emirate – home to around 12,000 restaurants and cafés with cuisines representing 200 different nationalities. The city started the year off on a high, with the contemporary Asian eatery 3 Fils at the Jumeirah Fishing Harbour securing the top prize in the inaugural edition of Middle East and North Africa’s 50 Best Restaurants awards, with a further six restaurants in the city making the top ten list.

Meat-lovers will also be happy to hear that the Monte Carlo-founded steakhouse group Beefbar has returned with a new home in Jumeirah Al Naseem. For street food and a buzzy nightlife scene, head to Soul St at Five Jumeirah Village Hotel, which serves up cuisine from Latin America, India, Levant, Europe and Asia alongside live music and graffiti-clad walls by international street artists.

If you’re finding it impossible to pick, the Dubai Food Festival from May 2-15 will showcase the lively dining scene across various venues, with renowned chefs inviting the public to taste a selection of their signature dishes. For a more theatrical setting, keep an eye out for the forthcoming fine dining Italian restaurant Belcanto at Dubai Opera, lavishly fitted with plush red carpets, gold accents and a grand piano.

Le Coucou, NYC – Credit Evan Sung

NEW YORK, US

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the biannual NYC Restaurant Week, a four week-long event in July featuring prix-fixe menus at around 400 restaurants across all five boroughs. Aside from this, the Big Apple has seen an array of new fixtures, including ten-seat counter sushi spot Matsunori on the Lower East Side, Indian fried chicken spot Rowdy Rooster in the East Village, and the arrival of the first permanent restaurant from the city’s Ethiopian-Eritrean mobile restaurant Makina Café in Queens this month.

The city is also adding to its roster of over 30 food halls. Renowned chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten is set to open a 4,900 sqm marketplace in the Tin Building at Pier 17, featuring Chinese venue The House of Red Pearl and French fare from T. Brasserie, while a Singaporean food hall with 18 stalls is slated for spring.

Pier 57 in Chelsea will also welcome a 1,486 sqm venue curated by the James Beard Foundation this coming autumn, with 17 stalls for local small businesses and food entrepreneurs. On the luxury end of the scale, French favourite Le Coucou in SoHo has recently reopened, and Eleven Madison Park has pivoted to a plant-based menu.

Burger and Lobster, Singapore

SINGAPORE

The city-state’s strict travel restrictions meant that few foreigners got to experience its gastronomic scene during the pandemic. Thankfully Singapore has now reopened to foreign visitors, and its flurry of new foodie openings proves that it was well worth the wait. London-based private member’s wine club 67 Pall Mall has opened its first Asian outpost in the 1,400 sqm Shaw Centre penthouse on Orchard Road, offering 5,000 labels of wine, East-meet-West cuisine from chef Alex Zhu and a 35-seater Whisky Bar on the 28th floor.

The London-born Burger and Lobster brand also has two sites in the city, serving its Nebraskan family-farmed beef and Atlantic lobsters amid old-school opulence at the renovated Raffles Hotel as well as on the top floor of the magnificent Jewel Changi airport, with views overlooking the world’s tallest waterfall The Rain Vortex.

Meanwhile, chef Julien Royer of the city’s three-Michelin-starred Odette has opened neighbourhood French haunt Claudine in an old colonial chapel atop Dempsey Hill. For a taste of the future, check out the newly permanent Magic Square eatery which champions emerging young talent, with chefs showcasing nine-course menus on a rotational basis. And don’t miss affordable fare and a community atmosphere at the city’s famous hawker centres.

Arbory Afloat, Melbourne – Credit Parker Blain

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA

Australia’s culture capital is home to barista brews, artisan brunches and diverse cuisines for every palate, including plenty of farm-to-table fare. The end of last year saw the opening of Farmer’s Daughters in the Central Business District, which sources its ingredients directly from farms in the Gippsland region of Victoria – with plans to showcase the rest of the state at a new outpost in Federation Square this autumn.

Federation Square has also recently welcomed all-day bar and kitchen Big Esso (meaning ‘the biggest thank you’ in the Torres Strait), which celebrates contemporary Indigenous culture through its menu, soundtrack and design with major artworks by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists.

To fully appreciate the scenery, head to the city’s new highest rooftop cocktail bar Fables, which is set 14 storeys up in Melbourne’s Greek precinct, or experience it from the Yarra River aboard the floating bar and restaurant Arbory Afloat. The latter is open until June and aims to transport you to Turkey’s Turquoise Coast with a menu of gyros, mezze and kofte alongside Turkish-inspired cocktails.

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