There have been similar threads, one of the latest was about your most expensive meal. As we are told, money does not buy happiness or good food ..... all the time. What would you consider the very best meal you have ever eaten? Was it at a restaurant of renowed fame or a dive on the back streets?
What is the BEST meal you have ever eaten and where?
Is a restaurant that has come and gone worth talking about?
I think so. Jack's Restaurant was once the second oldest in San Francisco. It originally opened in San Francisco in 1864. Jack's Restaurant was the epitome of San Francisco private elegance at 615 Sacramento Street, in an old
three-story building. The Carte de Jour was incredible – a patron could order anything with any sauce and any vegetable where they could dine publically, or on the second floors discrete rooms that featured a hall and private stair access to go and come so as not to be seen. One dined for hours. San Franciscan’s often dined as a family. Even the children were properly dressed, with the boys in suit and tie, and girls with their pink ruffled dresses and white gloves. This was a place that was cash only. The staff took their reservations over a pay phone that hung of the wall at the edge of their small bar. If you were a regular and had a reservation, your were seated immediately, even if a line was out the door and down the block.
This was also my father’s favorite restaurant for all the same reasons: that we were never disappointed at Jack’s. My favorite waiter was a bit of a boozer but always somewhat gruff while at the same time charming. We would play a game every time I came. I would ask how the house wine was. He would say I will bring you a glass, which he did promptly. After pouring an elegant glass from a full bottle, he would leave the bottle. Every night of the week had its own special five-course meal with selectable alternatives, which was a real bargain even at $50 a person back in the sixties.
Was this the best food, or what exactly made Jack’s standout and make Playboy’s 50 Best restaurants in world in 1970? I think in some respects the menu certainly helped but when Playboy polled their raters, it was how comfortable they felt there. If a patron ordered steak cooked extra well done with a sweet white wine, the waiter would say “excellent choice” – a customers was never wrong, the staff made us feel like royalty.
I have to say that no restaurant I go to now serves old-school favorites like fried eggplant, creamed spinach, chateaubriand bordelaise, sweetbread in a brandied maitre d’Hôtel sauce, escargots bourguignon, and crepes suzette.
Also read: Last Taste of History / S.F.'s second-oldest restaurant succumbs to the real-estate market, By Carolyn Jones, Chronicle Staff Writer, Published 4:00 a.m., Friday, December 15, 2000
I have had many memorable ones. The first that came to mind at the moment, not because it was better than all the others...
I was a high school kid in India. I was going to go to the USA soon, almost a foreign land to me but my parents and my passport were from the USA. An Indian friend of mine suggested a trip around India, mostly by train, before I left. My parents said they would pay my cost (which was hardly anything, about 70 dollars for train fare and cheap hotels and all, a couple thousand miles on the train over a couple of weeks).
Early on in the trip, my friend and I arrived at Madras late at night, probably about 10, and we were hungry. We found a little hole in the wall restaurant still open. They still had some of their chicken curry left, and no rice but some bread. That meal SO hit the spot, partly because it was so delicious, and maybe more because it was far away from home, we were really hungry, and my friend and I ruled our own world :) . At 16 years old, there could hardly be anything more exciting than all that.
Edited by OregonYeti - 2/11/13 at 8:14pm
Both responces have been great and I find it interesting that both are memories from the past. I love food so personally to make a recommendation I would need pages. I am sort of like a friend of my father. My dad said, " The best meal Bill ever ate was the last meal he ate". I still remember Bill ( then it was Mr. Thomas) returning from the mid day dinner and telling me all about the great meal he had just eaten. Bill. aka Mr Thomas, loved his food and loved to tell everyone about the latest feast.
I have had a lot of memorable meals in my life, but i think almost all of them depended on the company and atmosphere aw much as the food. For example as a young lad we would always have Sunday dinner at my grandparents after mass. There would be around 40 of us with cousins, aunts and unckles and the such. My grandmother(Italian imigrant)would start preping on friday. Homemade breads. pizza, cavats, baked eggplant and always fish and shellfish( a rarity in western Pennsylvania in the early 70's) Another comes to mind when my soon to be wife and I took a 4 week summer drive and ended up some place in nowhere southern Georgia at 7am and found a dive dinner with the best breakfast I have ever ate.It was the locals and owner/cook that made the meal( mide you we were driving a black caddilac with Penna. plate and my girlfriend was a damn forginer and I was a damn yank. Grits, hotcakes, eggs, hand cut bacon, peach cobbler. We didn't even order anyththing by name, the cook just smiled and said "Breakfast?" and we said yep and stuff just started appearing. Then the locals started talking, it was a damn fine event.
I will say that eariler this summer we went to Cophenhagen wih a few friend for the event of dinning at Noma. Fantastic.
Restaurant " " PIC " " Valance, France /////" Restaurant " "Paul Bocusse"" Lyon, France Just the service alone in these 2 places on a scale of 1 to 10 deserve a 10 PLUS and the food a 15 or maybe even 2o . It is not simply lunch or dinner like here in US, it is truly an experience. Lunch takes 3 hours, Dinner 4 .
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume).
Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...
That story about the dive diner for breakfast is exactly what I am talking about. I have been in a corn county Midwest dinner with only the local farmers talking about grain prices. The waitress (she should have had a TV show..maybe did) comes up and asks if I want breakfast. I answer,"yes". She walks away and returns 10 minutes later with a great breakfast. It turns out that Monday through Friday there is no real breakfast menu, just the daily special.
Erna's Elderberry House just in Oakhurst Ca. just outside Yosemite. I was there for christmas dinner with paired wine. It was an experience I fail to decribe, was thirteen courses all I can remember is goose. If you ever have the chance it's worth it. This was 25 years ago though. Probably why I can't remember
I'll offer up two experiences at opposite ends of the price spectrum.
Many years ago I was into caving, and a group of us from Indianapolis spent a week in the Tennessee woods getting dirty and tired, living off canned soup heated on a Coleman stove and such fine fare. We were headed back home along some country highway and spotted a place that offered an all you can eat family style lunch for something like $4.95. This was about 1970 or 71. There were about 8 of us 19 - 20 year old guys who went in and got seated. A nice little country restaurant. That day the two meats were baked ham and fried chicken, the veggies were typical corn, green beans, mashed potatoes which they would bring out in big bowls to pass around. And freshly baked biscuits. Really GOOD biscuits. The first batch of biscuits was served in a nice basket covered with a red and white checked cloth. To give you an idea of what a group of hungry young males who hadn't seen real food for a while can do, the last batches of biscuits were brought out on the baking tray by a kitchen worker and basically just dumped on the table. We ate *incredible* amounts of food that meal, probably the most I've ever consumed in one sitting. The staff was standing around in shock watching whatever was brought to the table disappearing at an amazing rate.
When we finally had our fill and it was time to pay up the owner of the place said to us something like "I declare, I have nevah seen boys eat so much - I'm going to have to charge all ya all an extra 50 cents each." We gladly paid the extra, and we left something like an 80% tip. A memorable meal.
A much more recent experience was my wife and I strolling over to Forage last month, a restaurant here in Salt Lake City. The occasion was our 25th wedding anniversary. A small plate tasting menu, 12 courses. It was *amazing* The highlight in terms of presentation was the "oyster and pine" course. A bed of pine branches set on fire back in the kitchen, seasoned raw oysters in the shell set on the pine branches then covered with a clear plastic dome. Brought out to the table, the dome is lifted and this wonderful aroma from the smoldering pine surrounds you. Nice. The scrambled egg in the shell with the maple syrup and sherry cream, the smoked trout with the onion and apple, the venison medallion, the zucchini and sweet peppers with the roast chicken vinaigrette - every single plate was just such a joy. A little over 3 hours, a little under $300, I would love to do it again.
It is definitely a time and place that make a meal memorable, just like that buffet. And eating certain foods again can bring an experience back in mind.
"all you can eat" rarely is in line with "favorite meals"! Fun story
George Bernard Shaw
Interesting question. A few come to mind. A trout minutes out of the Futalefu river in Chile cooked on a stick on an open fire with just some salt and pepper is up there. The basil chicken at a random Thai restaurant we walked into Buenos Aires 15 years ago is still the best I have ever had anywhere. This little family Italian place in Wilmington, DE called Piccotti's where my Grandfather, Father and I used to eat on guy's night out when I was a kid probably was the first place I ever had truly good food.
Hands down, though, has to be the Inn at Little Washington. Traveling around for work with nobody worrying too much about my expense reports I have been fortunate to eat in a lot of great places and many of the very top rated places in the world. I was expecting disappointment but got the best food coupled with the absolute best service I have ever seen. It would have been hard for this place to meet my expectations given all the accolades it had received but it absolutely exceeded them.
The absolute best meal I ever had (that I can remember at the moment) was last October, in Paris, France. And not because it was "Paris", because if you've been there you'll know there are about a billion tourist trap restaurants where the food is mediocre, at best. But this Italian restaurant was amazing in every way. It's called Il Suppli, on the 6th arrondissement, I believe on Rue Conde. First of all the service was flawless, the ambiance was fantastic, and the food...sweet baby Jesus. The gnocchi was like having an outer body experience, it was so tender, it just melted in your mouth like little decadent velvet clouds that caressed your palate. It was the most sensual culinary experience I've ever had. I just remember ever-so-slowly lifting the fork to my mouth with each bite in pure pleasure. My husband and I spoke about nothing else but the food during the entire dinner. His dish was fantastic by the way as well. The worst part of it all was discovering it the night before we were about to leave for home. I'm often tempted to call the chef and ask him for the gnocchi recipe.
The second best meal I had was in Puerto Rico. Don't remember the name of the restaurant at the moment, but the food had so much (well-balanced) flavor. I had a salted cod dish that was incredible.
Back when Puck owned Postrio in SF, had a nice long many course meal that was arranged by a chef friend . Our table was 7 people, 5 were chefs or chef/owners
of various SF restaurants . Was not a busy night , was a weekday night and sitting 2 tables over was Julia Child and off in a corner by himself was Tim Conway.
Then from a childhood memory, when I was in middle school and we lived in Japan . On the drive from Tokyo to Osaka my parents would always stop
at a place that over looked a lake and they served the best Unagi ever. I am thinking that lake was the source for the Unagi.