Favourite restaurant ‘finds’ of 2015

Gospoda Poznanska Restaurant, Poznan, Poland

Standing in front of Gospoda Poznanska Restaurant, Poznan, Poland, one of our favourite restaurant ‘finds’ of 2015

Happy New Year!

Starting the 2016 year made me think, what were our great, restaurant ‘finds’ of the past year.

2015 was a great ‘discovery’ year for Ingrid and me.  Our ‘foody’ friends, such as Richard and Maggie, introduced us to some fabulous new (to us) restaurants.  And our travels to the United States in July and to Europe (Germany, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Austria and Portugal) in October introduced us to a whole new, exciting world of cuisine.

Here are our top restaurant ‘finds’ of 2015:

Alberta, Canada

You want the Nata (often called Portuguese Tarts), a delicious tart with luscious egg custard baked with a light, flaky puff pastry crust.  The original Nata tarts were created at Pasteis de Belem in Lisbon, Portugal more than 120 years ago.

Nata - the genuine egg custard tart from Lisbon's famous Pasteis de Belem bakery

Nata – the genuine egg custard tart from Lisbon’s famous Pasteis de Belem bakery.  But you can buy a very, very good local version at Handy Bakery, in Edmonton

This was our first introduction to Filipino cuisine, which is like Chinese food, but different.  Confusing, eh?  Order the Garlic Rice, Half Chicken, Filipino Bistek and for dessert, Halo-halo (an unusual combination of shaved ice, preserved fruit, milk and beans.)

Located in the old Simmons Building in East Village near downtown, the Sidewalk Citizen Bakery is Calgary trendy, trendy, trendy, but delicious, delicious, delicious!  Parking (on street) is a bit of a hassle.  Grab a coffee with a good friend and sit down for a thick slab of outrageously scrumptious Bread Pudding, pizza slice or Focaccia.

I like the Bento Box for lunch.  Lots of choices and one of the largest Bento Box servings I’ve encountered.

United States

This is a steakhouse extraordinaire.  Sure, we Albertans pride ourselves in producing outstanding beef, but Gusick’s in Billings, Montana blew our group’s collective mind.  Some of our entourage, all dyed-in-the-wool Albertans, ate here for four consecutive evenings!  Not only were the steaks and prime rib outstanding, the fish lovers said its some of the best they’ve eaten.

Europe

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Potato pancakes with goulash, Polish style. This restaurant in Poznan, Poland served up one of the best meals on our European trip

A hearty mushroom and smoked sausage soup served in a bread bowl and potato pancakes with goulash, Polish style. This restaurant in Poznan, Poland served up one of the best meals on our European trip

Our travel companions agreed, as did our globe-trotting Russian-born tour guide – of all the Central European countries (Germany, Austria, Czech Republic and Hungary), Poland has the best cuisine.  For sure, the dishes are similar.  All countries have dumplings, all have sauerkraut, goulash and potatoes, but the Polish restaurants seemed to suit our palates more than those in the aforementioned countries.  Nobody could figure out exactly why that was the case, but we agreed.

 

KaDeWe (pronounced KAH-deh-vay) is a premium-level department store in Berlin with a fantastic ‘cafeteria’, “the largest cafeteria in the world”, claimed our tour guide.  I have my doubts.  KaDeWe’s cafeteria, located on the top floor of the department store’s building, is indeed large.

The cafeteria is large, there’s no doubt about that.  And it’s interestingly organized into ‘stations’, one for meat, one for desserts, another for beverages, one for salads, etc.  There was even an Asian cuisine station.

I went straight for the German cuisine.  Pork leg, sauerkraut and potatoes at KaDeWe’s cafeteria was so, soooo German!

Ka De We is a premium-level department store in Berlin with a fantastic 'cafeteria'

Pork leg, sauerkraut and potatoes at Ka De We's cafeteria. So, so German!

 

View of Porto, Portugal from high atop the Barao Fladgate Restaurant. Outstanding food, outstanding views

View of Porto, Portugal from high atop the Barao Fladgate Restaurant. Outstanding food, outstanding views

Duck breast served with a raspberry, black currant and port wine reduction. Ingrid said 'this is the best meal we've had this year'

Duck breast served with a raspberry, black currant and port wine reduction. Ingrid said ‘this is the best meal we’ve had this year’

Barao Fladgate's mandatory 5 Euro per person 'cover charge' appetizer (Portuguese restaurant servers always bring appetizers to your table, but you pay if you eat them), includes olives, cheese, bread, sausage and a 'sample' of Port Wine

Barao Fladgate’s mandatory 5 Euro per person ‘cover charge’ appetizer (Portuguese restaurant servers always bring appetizers to your table, but you pay if you eat them), includes olives, cheese, bread, sausage and a ‘sample’ of Port Wine

Incredible dessert artistry. Too beautiful to eat? Nah, we ate it!

Incredible dessert artistry. Too beautiful to eat? Nah, we ate it!

It had been a long day climbing the very steep, ancient streets of Porto.  Exploring the Port Wine district of the city in search of interesting Port Wine ‘tastings’ was hard work.  We literally stumbled upon the Taylor Fladgate port wine maker’s complex.  At 1:30 PM, it was time for a late lunch, and I had decided this was where we were going to dine.  Expensive, but worth every Portuguese penny.  (About 60 Euros, or about $85 Can.)  I said to Ingrid, ‘This is the best meal of European trip’, to which Ingrid replied, ‘This is the best meal we’ve had this year!

 

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