As we dare to dream about an end to the culinary purgatory that is Covid, we asked some of our favourite chefs to tell us where they most want to eat when the restaurant world reopens.
The answers took us on an incredible gastronomical tour across the world, from the paladars of Cuba to the comnforting soups of Moscow, from the windy beaches of Tenby to the sizzling sidewalks of Thailand. Join us in dreaming of meals lost during the last 12 months, and of many more to come.
Mark Wogan, co-founder of Homeslice
I’d like to get my whole family together at one table and serve them my sticky spicy ribs with maple yogurt dressing. I’ll make a huge platter of them and lay them out on the table ‘feasting style’ for all 12 of us to dive in, eat, talk, and laugh together. My recipe has changed slightly over the years but they’ve always been a family favourite. They’re really messy but so good and a true crowd pleaser.
Will Bowlby, chef patron of Kricket
It has to be butter chicken mopped up with garlic butter naan in the Babu Huts on Ashwem Beach in North Goa. To top it all off it would be a sunset to go with it! I know that life will be relatively normal again if I find myself in this situation. I can’t wait to head back to India but in the meantime I get some comfort from enjoying this meal on the terrace in my flat in Oval.
Marwa Alkhalaf, co-owner of Nutshell Covent Garden
For me, it would have to be in my mother-in-law’s kitchen in Tehran, Iran, eating ghormeh sabzi, a herbed lamb stew with kidney beans, black lime and verjus. It has a delicious umami flavour and her version has a balanced flavour profile that she builds layer upon layer.
It starts with the herb mix: parsley, coriander, Asian chives, fenugreek leaves and spinach which she cooks for hours on a very low heat to form an incredible intense flavour like no other. She measures the quantity of each to make sure that the right flavour notes shine while the others follow.
The meat is only seasoned with turmeric, pepper and salt but she cooks it long enough until it melts in your mouth, same with the kidney beans, which are cooked until creamy. She balances the richness of the stew with the acidity from black lime and verjus, both strong enough to stand against the richness of the other ingredients to give you a relief that makes your taste buds dance. It brings together so many great things about what I love about Iranian food and cooked with such love. I can’t wait to go back!
Asimakis Chaniotis, executive chef of Pied à Terre
I had the best trip of my life in Rome back in 2017 and I would love to go back to have my first meal out of lockdown there. I love everything about the city – the chefs, the culture, the people and the vibe. There were so many fantastic restaurants to visit we must have had six meals a day! The best was in a tiny little restaurant in a district called Pigneto, an area known for its upcoming artists, cool graffiti and street music.
We dined at Pigneto 1870 and it was so good we re-visited on the same trip. Very sadly it’s now permanently closed but as this is a dream scenario, I wish I could go back and eat food cooked by their chefs again. I constantly think of their monkfish served with raw and cooked mushrooms, beautifully balanced with the addition of a mushroom tea. Along with fine Italian wines, it would make for the best post-COVID meal.
Hugo Meyer Esquerré, co-founder, Provisions Wine & Cheese
I would go to the Saint Eutrope, a fantastic small bistro in Clermont Ferrand, Auvergne, which is the ideal place for a long boozy lunch with friends. The cooking is simple, the ingredients are amazing, the wine list is brilliant and everything feels friendly and timeless when you pass through the door, with many winemakers coming there to eat and socialise. I would have a piece of pie and probably a dozen glasses of good wine.
Andrey Datsenko, co-founder of TAKA Marylebone and MARU Mayfair
I would love to go back to Moscow and eat my mom’s home cooking. For me, nothing can beat my mother’s comfort food. When she cooks it’s very special for me. As we are now limited in terms of traveling, I haven’t been able to visit my family home back in Russia. As soon as we can travel, I will go back to eat my mom’s soups, which have to be my favourite family meal.
Adam White, Founder of House Cafe Company
It may be a little obvious, and convenient, but a weekend gastronomic trip to Paris is hard to beat, from champagne on the platform to the heated seats at St Pancras Brasserie and Champagne Bar to the coffee at Paris Nord Café on your return. The highlight, though, is the most wonderfully French institution that is the Clown Bar.
I took my girlfriend for her first trip to Paris soon after we got together (which was 12 years after we met). Their signature dish is whole calf brain served with chilled dashi spiked with soy, ginger and yuzu! This is all served out of a kitchen the size of our wash up room at Riding House.
Matt Grech-Smith, co-founder Swingers London
There’s been many a day over the last year when I have taken a momentary pause from the relentless stream of Zoom calls to run downstairs to quickly microwave some soup, to be consumed al desko.
It is then that my mind turns to what I think lunch really should be – consumed by the sea, shaded from the afternoon sun, with flowing rosé. Majorca is the top of my list. I had lunch at Ca’s Patro March in Deia a few years back and the croquettas, octopus and fried fish were so simple but tasted incredible. I’ll never take a long lunch in the sun for granted again.
Charles Tyler, director of Paladar
I would head somewhere not particularly renowned for its cuisine: Cuba. There are now many great Paladars (private restaurants) in Havana, but I would head for one of the first great Paladars – La Guarida. Walk up the crumbling grand staircase past tenement apartments and emerge in a classy yet characterful top-floor hideaway – now with a super-cool rooftop bar… The chefs make pretty good food too!
Roland Horne, founder of WatchHouse Coffee
My partner is fiercely Welsh and therefore I spend a lot of my holiday time in West Wales – originally under duress but now happily! The daily family walk on Tenby’s South Beach, affectionately known to us as Tenby time, is often followed by a post walk lunch at The Dennis Cafe.
This is where we will be hitting up multiple times once the lockdown ends over the summer. Special nod to the home made Mars bar slice and the Dennis family who still run the cafe to this day. Who needs Mykonos, eh?
Henry Omereye, executive chef of Riding House Cafe
My dream first meal would be Oistins Fish Fry in Barbados. The sound of the waves combined with the cool evening breeze sets the scene for me. The aroma of fresh grilled fish marinated with the island’s best spices takes your tastebuds to another level. The variety of local dishes is endless, and the portion sizes are never questioned. You can be sure to enjoy the evening as it offers a warm and friendly family atmosphere. I can’t wait to revisit, I will be sure to indulge and enjoy a well deserved feast.
Marcus Eaves, executive chef of Oblix at The Shard
I’ve been lucky enough to travel to some amazing places and eat at some world class restaurants, but the one place I can’t wait to go back to is Tuscany. The food and wine really are incredible. My post covid dream meal would be at Antica Macelleria Cecchini, a Tuscan steakhouse and butcher’s shop owned by one Italy’s most famous butchers. Dario Cecchini’s passion for outstanding beef really is second to none, the standout dishes are the whipped Lardo, served in the butchers shop, and the Tuscan T-bone cooked tableside over the charcoal grill.
Matteo Toto, CEO and founder, Flower Burger
Aubergine by Atzaro is a beautiful, country-chic farm-to-table restaurant that serves fresh food produce in the heart of Ibiza’s countryside. I used to go there once a year, I have always had a great experience and love the vibe. After a day in “Cala Benirras” on the beach, having dinner with my best friends in this amazing place that connects you with nature, then on to enjoy the party on the island is something I really miss.’
Richard Green, owner 28-50
It’s not just where we would like to be, it’s where we will be! Approximately 24 hours after travel to the US is allowed we’ll travel to Seawatch on the Ocean in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, South Florida. We’ll beat people off with a stick to be on that plane!
The evening air will be warm, as ever. The Martinis will be celestial. The surf and turf unsophisticated and plentiful. The wine will be average but who cares when you’re in paradise? The staff won’t even have noticed that there’s been a pandemic and a world-wide crisis since we were last there. The walk home on the beach will be magical…
Colin Clague, executive chef, Ruya London
‘There are two places I would jump at the chance to go back, one high end the other way down low. I had one of the best meals of my life in Seoul in a restaurant called Kwon sook soo – the tasting menu with accompanying rice wine was to die for, the quality of the ingredients was second to none, and it was a nice surprise to see 80 per cent of the kitchen being brilliant female chefs.
The second trip would be to my favourite pub on the planet, McSorley’s old ale house in the East village, New York. It’s the oldest Irish pub in the city, with sawdust floors, pot belly stove, and pictures and horse stirrups that haven’t been taken down since before the first world war.
Ladies have been admitted since the 1970’s, and don’t worry, they serve all beers…. As long as they are light ale and dark ale. May it never change
Sanjay Dwivedi, COYA’s culinary ambassador
I would take my wife to ONA in Paris, the first vegan restaurant to receive a Michelin star. It’s really exceptional. We travel there twice a year, as my wife is French and it’s our favourite city to visit together.
Luke French, JORO restaurants
I would have a night at Sushibando in Shinjuku City, Tokyo. It serves an epic feast of the most amazing sushi I have ever tasted. My absolute favourite food in the world is sushi so this is a no brainer. Raw fish, rice, wasabi, wagyu, toro, chawanmushi, hot and iced sake, you name it… soooo good.
For dessert we’d have to get a flight and a boat over to Railay, Thailand, to devour some sticky coconut rice with fresh mango, kaffir lime and chilli – a dish that will always stick with me from my travels.
Brodie Meah, Top Cuvee
My dream post lockdown meal has to be some grilled skewers from the street vendors on the side of the road in Southern Thailand. The flavour is unparalleled, the people serving it so friendly and it also covers my desire to just travel, anywhere! The last time I was there was a holiday with my whole family so I would love to recreate that vibe.
Monika Linton, founder of Brindisa
I am longing for post Corona lockdown to get to our rustic patch of home and garden in Menorca where I can begin my day with an ensaimada breakfast, spend the day in the sun swimming and building up an appetite for a rice meal cooked by chefs in our local restaurant Es Molí de Foc in Sant Climent – we would walk there in the evening light and then walk back in the moonlight.
If we get there for the summer then I would have a seafood rice dish and if we don’t get there till the winter it would be fresh tuna and duck rice!
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