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11 unforgettable dining experiences

Something we always do on holiday is find a special place to dine and we’ve been jotting them down in Evernote for a long while now! Staying in a self-catering or a more basic boutique hotel away from the hum drum is quite a good way to save some pennies but still enjoy the finer things for a lunch or a supper. Some of the places below don’t have accommodation but are simply stunning restaurants, others we did stay at and also dined at. Each is very different and there’s certainly something for everyone. Tokara totally beats the budget but the likes of Equinox and Chateau Eza give you a to die for view. Chewton Glen and Twelve Apostles just have the whole package of accommodation and a stunning dining experience! Vatika, Hampshire, UK Sadly this has now shut although there is a new restaurant on the site and Atul Kochar now has 2 restaurants in London that we are yet to visit. What was lovely about Vatika was both the setting, alongside a vineyard, and the way that englsih bistro food was given an Indian twist and then matched perfectly with a wine! Tokara, Stellenbosch, South Africa We stayed just up the road at Camberley Vineyard and a friend recommended we do lunch at Tokara rather than visit one of the heavily advertised wineries! Tokara is quite a modern winery and their wine is fantastic! The restaurant looks out over the vines and is quite stunning. There is an outdoor balcony to dine on with unbroken views! For the grand total of £50 we lunched like royalty, the food was second to none and the service exemplary. I shudder to think what you would pay for this in London… Thatched Cottage, Hampshire, UK The quaintest place for an evening meal, it’s a very small restaurant in a thatched cottage. It feels like you are dining in someone’s house but that someone just happens to be an amazing chef! Twelve Apostles, Cape Town, South Africa The whole stay experience here shouldn’t be missed, the location is astounding. But then an evening of drinks and dining is wonderful too! The bar is funky style animal skins and is the perfect location for sun downers. The restaurant food has the wow factor. We were there quite a few years ago and it was the first time I had 4 prawns on a plate and was full – the seafood is fresh and big! The sommelier was very correct in his choices and the whole meal wonderful. Breakfast here is great – one morning we even saw whales passing, and snacks at lunchtime are simple but perfect! Twelve Apostles Isibindi Eco Reserve, Kwazulunatal, South Africa On another trip to SA for our honeymoon we stayed here and were the sole guests for a couple of days. Dinners were an assault on the senses, even the bread was better than anywhere else! Set out lit with paraffin lamps and a trust bar so that the waiting staff don’t disturb you – just perfect. On one night we had a local ‘boma dinner’ and one morning a bush breakfast cooked on a scortle! O’Shanahans, Dublin, Ireland We stumbled across this as we were staying on St Stephens green and had an early supper. This place does steak like I’ve not seen elsewhere – even Gaucho can’t compete! Better than the steak is the bread, I love Irish soda breads and cakes and their bread I could have eaten all day! Incredible history to the place. We were there before the evening rush and so it was quite casual, but I think it’s quite up market dressing for the late sitting, with a price tag to match Impudent Oyster, Cape Cod, USA Recommended by the proprietors we stayed with in Wellfleet and pleasing that we were the only tourists in there for lunch! Seafood to die for and great portion sizes. It’s hidden off the main drag in the town and has its charm as a result! Equinox, Singapore Stunning views a long way below of the city! This is somewhere to go for a special occasion!! Look out for drinks offers – a bottle of Moët was cheaper than two glasses. Sensational food and attentive service, all with the most amazing views! Equinox Chateau Eza, Eze, France There are two glamorous hotels in this ‘village perché’ – walk past the other over-advertised one and book a table here at a very discreet and small hotel an d restaurant! We went with the menu degustation to avoid having to pick and it was a triumph. We started the evening with fizz on a balcony with super canapés and then dined inside right in front of an open window looking out on the sea and view down the coast. Needed a small mortgage to pay for it but was worth every penny. It’s a long walk from the car park up cobbled and steep paths, so wear flats and take time for a cool drink in the bar on arrival!! Chewton Glen, Hampshire, UK Have group dined here many times but only a couple of times ourselves. Lunch on a weekday is good value and delicious. Afternoon tea is a treat (although I think I prefer Montague Arms!). But by far the best is the evening tasting menu, 5 or 7 courses with matched wines. Very enjoyable and for the amount of food and wine, probably a good value way of not having to struggle picking from the menu! Breakfast comes round to quickly though – save some space! Combe Hotel, Devon, UK We stopped for lunch on the way to Devon. On arrival it was lovely to enjoy a glass of fizz by the fire with some canapés. Lunch is a set price menu of 3 course. All were lovely, served swiftly and perfectly and we really didn’t want to leave! The view from the restaurant over the grounds is lovely even on a dreary autumn day, but take you after lunch coffee in the bar area where there are some sumptuous sofas!

Anna Parker

I am happiest when travelling in style with my husband, enjoying the outdoors and taking photos to keep the memories! On the lookout for luxury and unique stays. Based in the UK. Find me on twitter @aeparker81 or at www.travelwithpenelopeandparker.com

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  1. Just stayed a great one in Bali overnight – kenanga hotel in ubud and it’s terracotta restaurant. Dinner overlooks peaceful rice paddies and cooking combines modern and authentic Indonesian.

  2. For ridiculous views of the London skyline, try Duck & Waffle or Galvin at Windows.. both on the pricey side, but well worth it for the money-cant-buy views!

  3. Great list. I am happy I have experienced 1 of your 10 recommendations! Equinox has a great view and tasting course

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