Go List 2009: Best Bites Near Sites
© Clay McLachlan
Paris: The Eiffel Tower
If your budget isn’t big enough for Alain Ducasse’s Le Jules Verne inside the Tower, opt for Les Cocottes, Christian Constant’s no-reservations counter just off Paris’s Champs de Mars. The cocottes here—mini cast-iron pots containing entire meals—justify the (inevitable) wait.
We loved: Confit lamb shoulder
Cambodia: Angkor Wat
Frenchman Matthieu Ravaux and his Cambodian wife run a white-tablecloth French restaurant, Chez Sophea, amid the cheap food stalls near this famous temple in Cambodia’s Siem Reap. On the menu, you might find marinated steak or rillettes de canard (duck pâté).
We loved: Chocolate pot de crème.
London: The British Museum
At his modern Italian restaurant in London, Number Twelve, chef Santino Busciglio salts his own cod, smokes his own meat and oversees the daily baking of six kinds of bread made with organic flour from Italy.
We loved: Roasted beetroot ravioli with white butter sauce and blue poppy seeds.
Rome: The Colosseum
The hokey checked tablecloths at Rome’s La Taverna dei Fori Imperiali might suggest the food is hokey too, but that’s misleading: Alessio Liberatore’s restaurant in a tangle of tiny streets is wonderful.
We loved: Fettuccine with prosciutto, pine nuts and sage.
Insider tip: Do as the locals do and order the specials.
Cairo: The Great Pyramids
In Cairo, the Mena House Oberoi’s restaurant, The Moghul Room, serves exceptional Indian food. Haute versions of shrimp biryani, chicken masala and slow-cooked dal are exceptional.
We loved: Yogurt-marinated chicken tandoori.
Istanbul: Hagia Sophia
Hidden in an idyllic 1920s house with a garden setting, Balikçi Sabahattin is an olive’s toss from Istanbul’s old city. The meze—like sweet roasted red peppers and smooth, garlicky eggplant spread—are unimpeachably fresh; so is the excellent seafood. And Balikçi (“fisherman”) Sabahattin’s kids are as adept at grilling fish as he was.
We loved: Fish köfte (meatballs).
India: The Taj Mahal
Just a mile or so down Taj Road en route to the train station in Agra is the wackily named Zorba the Buddha. This spotless, reasonably priced café serves ultrafresh curries that aren’t painfully spicy, as well as other vegetarian Indian dishes.
We loved: Cheese naan.
New York City: Times Square
At New York City’s Insieme, chef Marco Canora’s classic and modern Italian dishes are fiercely devoted to Greenmarket ingredients. Sommelier Paul Grieco’s wine list is as amusing as it is smart, mixing celebrity gossip into the tasting notes.
We loved: Bollito misto (boiled meats with salsa verde).
Washington, DC: The U.S. National Mall
In Washington, DC, Central Michel Richard is a modern bistro created by the renowned chef and run by his protégé Cedric Maupillier. Maupillier puts both American and French classics, like cassoulet and fried chicken, on the menu. The bar scene is one of the hottest in town. We loved: “Faux gras” chicken liver terrine.
Australia: Sydney Harbour
Born-and-bred Sydney chef Peter Gilmore transformed Quay, a former tourist trap, when he took over in 2001, bringing his Asian- and European-influenced cooking and a devotion to local produce.
We loved: The signature trio of “sea pearls”: tapioca-crusted crab and yuzu; egg white set around a core of eel brandade; and scallop and crème fraîche rolled in caviar.