Sunday, April 2, 2017
A step back in time to dine in the world’s oldest restaurants is a fascinating experience.
The setting is quaint, along a medieval row of restaurants that line the Plaza Mayor. Botin is crowded with tourists and locals, it’s just crowded! Established in 1725, there is a reason this place is still in business, the food is fantastic and their service is world class and so is the wine! It is the oldest restaurant in the world and they have a Guinness book of world records certificate in the restaurants front window to prove it! The Botin experience takes one behind closed doors on a guided visit of the restaurant’s history and its anecdotes. The kitchen with clay ovens, date back to 1725, where they cook suckling pigs even now. Do peek in at Bodega and the room where Ernest Hemmingway sat to write.
ZUR LETZTEN INSTANZ, BERLIN
City centre banqueting with the dreamy echo of a clan abode, ‘Zur Letzten Instanz’, Berlin’s oldest restaurant precisely reads into the last resort and has done a prosperous business since 1621 with such genuine indigenous fare as roast pork knuckle and Bouletten (Berlin-style meatballs) that go best with a mug of frothy beer.
On the menu is genuine and native German cuisine showcasing Berlin specialties, and interestingly each dish is baptized after a lawful process, for example‘Beweismittel’ which translates into Evidence and actually is a cabbage roll with mashed potatoes and salad. Another enjoyable creation is the ‘Zeugen-Aussage aka witness testimony’ the pork knuckle set flawlessly together with the farmhouse bread, sauerkraut, pureed split peas and smoked bacon.CASA PASTEIS DE BELEM, LISBON
Do make a stop at the No 1 rated egg tart place in town. History has it that a little before the 18th century, Catholic Monks at the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos of Belem, created this creamy dessert. As you stand in the serpentine queue outside you will discover that the service is swift, and you will move along the line very quickly. Order at least 2 tarts each and make yourselves comfortable on the table. They are decadent to the core with a warm (just out of the oven), light crispy pastry shell enclosing vanilla scented mouthful of custard which is luscious and one can choose to sprinkle it with cinnamon and powdered sugar. Definitely worth the wait…!
BIN ATEEK, MUSCAT
The restaurant has a few floors, divided into private rooms, named after various places in Oman. One is made to seat on the carpeted floor and the meal is brought on large traditional round trays to be eaten community style, just like at the home of any Arab. The highlight being the shuwa which is lamb cooked for up to two days wrapped in banana leaves in an underground clay oven while marinated in herbs and spices such as red pepper, garlic, cumin and coriander. The Mashuai aka spit roasted fish served on a bed of lemon rice is another great choice. Not to be missed is also Maqbous, a saffron flavoured rice dish cooked over white or red meat, their version of our Biryani. The other native curry dishes, based on various meats such as beef with green beans and potatoes or spicy fish in lime and coconut milk do not disappoint either.
my story first published in ET Panache Travel