I certainly ate well in 2017 and I have the tight pants to prove it at the beginning of 2018. In looking back over our trips this past year, I put together a list of some of my favorite restaurants and favorite meals of 2017 (not all of them were in an actual restaurant). They’re really not in any particular order though I have to say it’s a toss up between the dinner at Lagoon Restaurant on Bora Bora and our private island champagne lunch that was also on Bora Bora – the natural beauty of French Polynesia just makes everything so memorable and unique.
Lagoon Restaurant at St. Regis Resort, Bora Bora
This was our last meal on Bora Bora where we were celebrating our 15 year wedding anniversary and it was also Steve’s birthday. Our anniversary is actually in May and Steve’s birthday is late April but we were unable to take this trip in May because of work so we celebrated that milestone a little early. The restaurant is built on a pier over the water and has glass floors throughout so you can see stingrays, sharks and fish swimming underneath while sipping your mai tai. We chose to sit outside on the deck with a perfect view of Mount Otemanu and the most gorgeous sunset. We enjoyed this view so much that we had a cocktail here every night just to enjoy the sunset but saved a full meal for Steve’s birthday. The restaurant is also the only one in Bora Bora with a certified sommelier and he helped us pick out a lovely French wine to complement our meal of roasted veal and pan seared reef fish. It was a great end to our very special trip.
Farmstead Restaurant, Napa Valley
I took my mom to Napa Valley for a long weekend trip – just the two of us. I previously wrote about how much I loved our stay at the Auberge du Soleil Hotel (5 stars! ) and their concierge made several restaurant reservations for us. Our second night we ate at Farmstead near Yountville, which is a buzzy restaurant with a farm to table concept that focused on fresh, local vegetables and meats. We had an absolutely evil mac-n-cheese as you can see below and I had one of the best pork chops ever. I often find pork chops can be dry and tough but this restaurant did a great job grilling the massive chop.
Private Island Champagne Lunch, Bora Bora
Another favorite meal was our private island lunch that we did while in Bora Bora. We hired Bora Bora Romantic Tours for a private all-day snorkeling and lagoon day trip. We were picked up at our hotel in a very nice speedboat and taken to the other side of the lagoon for some incredible snorkeling (such a massive moray eel) and swimming with sharks in both shallow and deep water. Afterwards, our guide took us to a private island where we shucked fresh coconuts, drank champagne and he grilled up a huge lunch spread for us of fish, shrimp, chicken, steak, salad and a tuna poke. Such a perfect day in paradise.
Hakkasan in Las Vegas
I don’t know if it was the cocktails (very good possibility) or the cool atmosphere but Hakkasan ended up being our favorite meal in Las Vegas and we splurged on several high end restaurants during our stay (when we got home, Steve was complaining about how much we spent on food when he saw his credit card statement….oops!). Hakkasan is located in the MGM Grand but you walk down a long hallway to get to the restaurant so you don’t feel like you’re in a casino at all. It has a dark, sexy club feel and the service here was so friendly. Our waitress recommended several things we would normally never order and everything was delicious. We walked out stuffed but happy. Oh, and those cocktails are divine – great bartender here!
Hitchin Post II, Buellton, CA
As plain and boring as it may seem, sometimes you just want a damn good steak and potato. One of my all time favorites for that is the Hitchin Post Restaurant in Buellton, which is located about 40 minutes north of Santa Barbara in CA wine country. This place is seriously old school – you feel like you walked into a 1980’s Steak & Ale Restaurant with the drak green carpeting, old lacy curtains and brass lighting fixtures everywhere. What the place lacks in style, it makes up for in its food. All of the meats are cooked oven an old fashioned Santa Maria style grill using post oak so the meat has a wonderful smoky flavor to it. They have several cuts of meat but I think the basic filet is the way to go. My favorite appetizer they do is their BBQ’d mushrooms which are also cooked over the flame with a red wine sauce – pure heaven is you like mushrooms. Steve and I ate here just a few weeks ago and it was as good as I remember.
I think that rounds out the most memorable meals we had in 2017 though there were a few honorable mentions, including Bohannan’s Steakhouse in downtown San Antonio (another great steak), Mustard’s Grill in Napa Valley (best caesar salad and lamb burger ever) and an awesome smoked seafood pizza that we had on Moorea during our three day stay at the Sofitel Hotel. There was just something about that seafood pizza and a bottle of rose wine that made all seem right with the world.
I don’t know exactly where we will eat in 2018 but we do have trips planned to New Orleans, the Caribbean and Paris & the French Riviera so I’m sure there will be a few that will make my favorites list.