Some meals aren’t easily forgotten. They might raise the standards in terms of the food quality and inventiveness, the restaurant’s outstanding location or the high levels of service. These dining experiences make us feel that little bit more special, even if just for an evening. We’ve selected five stand-out dining experiences to enjoy on your travels. Sample reinvented Thai street food, dine on fresh seafood while soaking up a Cape Town sunset, or spend an evening in an ultra-sleek French restaurant with views over Hong Kong’s skyline.
Watch North Pacific storms from your table in Canada
Serving food foraged from around British Columbia, The Pointe Restaurant brings the great outdoors to your plate, refining fresh ingredients into delicate dishes.
As you dine, waves lash the rocks below and the deep blue of the North Pacific Ocean fills the circular restaurant’s 240-degree panorama. Perched boldly on Tofino’s weather-worn shoreline on Vancouver Island’s west coast, The Wickaninnish Inn itself has been specially designed for taking in views of the storms that frequently roll in during the winter, or for gazing over the placid water on calmer summer days. The Pointe Restaurant’s cuisine also plays off its surroundings. Fish and seafood are hauled in from the ocean, and organic ingredients are selected from local producers. Browse the seasonal menu and choose from the likes of seared scallops with curry, roasted sablefish with potato agnolotti, or Peace Country elk loin with celeriac fondant, finished with a selection of Canadian cheeses or a house-made dessert.
Try experimental Thai street food in Bangkok
Drawing Thai cuisine into the modern world, the creative chefs at Sra Bua by Kiin Kiin have reinvented street-food staples using molecular gastronomy techniques that wouldn’t look amiss in a laboratory.
The temperature, texture and appearance of traditional Thai dishes are experimented with while keeping the same aromatic tastes, providing a completely different dining experience to anywhere else in the country. Menus change every three months in keeping with the season. A highlight is ‘The Journey’ — a set-course menu featuring anything from laksa-based crab on a crab cornetto with grilled squid and an oyster tempura, to foie gras with ginger and plum wine. A vegetarian menu with equally inventive options is also available. The restaurant has a contemporary setting mixed with traditional elements such as teak floors, a latticed ceiling and a lotus pond, continuing its theme of combining old and new.
Soak up rare Cape Town sunset views over fresh seafood
Poised right on the edge of the Atlantic and backed by Table Mountain National Park and the Twelve Apostles mountain range, Azure Restaurant makes the most of Cape Town’s natural setting.
Inside, the decor is sleek and modern, yet warm, with framed sketches of sea urchins hanging on the walls and chunky vases of flowers on each table. A large terrace surrounded by ocean provides a space for candlelit dining to the sound of the waves. From here, you have uninterrupted sunset views — these are often obscured by Signal Hill elsewhere in the city. The à la carte menu includes fish, meat and vegetarian dishes, from crayfish spaghetti to Cape Malay curry. Fresh fruit features heavily in the dessert options. Try the ‘passion fruit’ dish, consisting of passion fruit mousse and gel, a chocolate chip cookie and macerated apricots. Alternatively, the three tasting menus can be shared between your whole table for a more social experience, with wine pairing an additional option.
Experience stylish French cuisine overlooking Hong Kong’s skyline
This two-Michelin-star restaurant exudes modern elegance, housed on the 25th floor oaf the Mandarin Oriental. Floor-to-ceiling windows give you wide views of Hong Kong’s skyline and Victoria Harbour, while chandeliers add sparkle to the contemporary dark cherry, black and indigo furnishings.
Owned by French chef Pierre Gagnaire, the restaurant serves the traditional cuisine of his homeland using modern cooking techniques and seasonal ingredients. You can choose from the six-course tasting menu, three-course set menu and à la carte options. During the winter, dishes may include venison medallion with juniper berries, roasted scallops with shaved parmesan, and black truffle crumble with pumpkin gnocchi and Iberico ham. Round off the evening with a dessert of frozen nougat, honey, apple sauce and clementine sap.
Dine on food fresh from the restaurant’s own garden in Australia
Situated on the southern edge of Victoria’s Grampians National Park — a wilderness of volcanic plains, waterfalls and sandstone peaks — the Royal Mail Hotel’s dining room holds two Chef’s Hats (equivalent to Michelin stars in Australia).
Here, three-quarters of the food is sourced from the property’s kitchen garden, orchards, olive groves and farmland, working in harmony with nature and the passing seasons. Hotel guests can take chef-led tours of the garden, where fruits, nuts, vegetables, herbs and edible flowers grow. You can also visit the property’s extensive wine cellar, which contains more than 26,000 bottles. The dining room itself is light and airy with a minimalist style. Menus change daily, with five- and eight-course tasting menus giving you an opportunity to sample as much of the hotel’s produce as possible. Cooked and presented with flair, dishes could include lamb with artichoke, sunflower and edamame, John Dory fish with smoked pommes purée, and burnt fig parfait with milk and honey. All are expertly paired with wine.
Craig Burkinshaw is Founder of Audley Travel.