The Irish Mail on Sunday
influence on the menu, you’ll find all kinds of delights here, from trout served with turnip to cod served with cous cous.
Generally, however, I tend to avoid the more formal settings when eating out abroad, and the Russian experience (19th) that I recall best was in a family-style restaurant with the word ‘God’ incorporated into the name. It was right in the centre of St Petersburg, not far from St Isaac’s Cathedral. The food itself was nothing special (yes, they do actually serve chicken Kiev in Russia!) but the most memorable thing about eating and drinking there was the local champagne. Cheap and absolutely delicious.
In India, in Mumbai to be precise, what springs to mind is the street food. Yes, I know you need to be careful on that front in places like India, so maybe I was just lucky – but how on earth are you supposed to resist those aromas?
In less exotic territory – Spain (17th) and Italy (9th) – it is also the local food that stands out. In Madrid it’s Casa del Abuelo on Calle Victoria. Here, it’s tapas only. Actually, it’s largely prawns only – great big juicy ones, simply grilled, or shrimps served on a small hot pan, still sizzling and reeking of garlic. Only two bottles of choice on the ‘wine list’ here – red or white.
In Italy I’ve eaten in Sabatini in Rome a few times, a lovely atmospheric restaurant in Trastevere, full of locals, with homecooking fare, a mix of meat and seafood and a lovely outdoor terrace. In Venice, meanwhile, I’d opt for what the locals eat – cichetti (Venetian tapas) in the likes of Gia Schiavi or Al Portego. And for a ‘proper’ restaurant, you can’t beat Alle Testiere for their superb, short seafood menu or Antiche Carampane, difficult to find but well worth the effort when it’s soft-shelled crab season. Sublime!