Travel Czar’s Best Dining Guide – 1st Edition

Now before Travel Czar set-up Life of a Travel Czar, he only uploaded his photos exclusively for his facebook friends. Subsequently, he was encouraged by friends, enemies, lovers and others to set-up a blog and that’s how Life of a Travel Czar was born.

Now I am often asked what is my favourite meal of all time… Is there one that really stands out?? It’s a difficult to answer and most of these pre-date Life of a Travel Czar, so I thought I would trawl through the albums and memories to show you a sample of the best food experiences out there.

These are in no particular order, they are all amazing…

1. Eleven Madison Park 

Best restaurant in the world I say. Amazing food and out there service. Every dish is created perfect, every wine matches the food with the precision of Swiss watch and every moment is unforgettable. Now there is a catch – bookings only open 28 days in advance and if you do not call by 9am (that’s 11pm Sydney time) on the 28th day before your desired dinner date you miss out! So start planning now! Here some dishes from my last visit.

Venison is grilled with onion and Chanterelle, roasted with pears and Sunchokes


Lobster poached with brussel sprouts and Guanciale


Foie gras terrine, with plum and bitter almond


Click the link for my recent review of the place in October – so check it out

2.Rockpool (EpiQure Launch Dinner) 

When Qantas launched EpiQure (their food and wine program) I was privileged enough to attend the launch dinner. Alan Joyce spoke, I got to have little chat with Neil Perry (Rockpool owner) and on top of that I got to taste a pretty exquisite degustation menu with matching wines including the famed Penfolds Grange (two vintages).

Here are a couple of dishes and wines from that night, which was simply amazing.

Slow cooked David Blackmore Wagyu short rib, charred, with red braised Shiitake mushrooms, yam and ginger puree

Slow cooked David Blackmore Wagyu short rib, charred, with red braised Shiitake mushrooms, yam and ginger puree

Wood fire roasted Burrawang chicken with baby carrots and pea sauce

Wood fire roasted Burrawang chicken with baby carrots and pea sauce

Penfolds Grange – 2001 & 2004

Penfolds Grange - 2001 & 2004

3. The Bunker (Queenstown NZ) 

Travel Czar first visited Queenstown in 2005 and fell in love with the place. It has everything… views, produce and of course an amazing hidden restaurant with a beautiful fire-place and a “cabin like feel” called The Bunker. It has the most amazing food with a beautiful setting (perfect date spot for a potential Mrs Travel Czar).

Espresso Martini 


Peppered fiordland Venison striploin, butternut pumpkin puree, pinot noir red cabbage, almond green beans tamarillo and varhona chocolate jus

Peppered fiordland Venison striploin, butternut pumpkin puree, pinot noir red cabbage, almond green beens tamarillo and varhona chocolate jus


Brulee Manuka honey and saffron crème brulee with Cointreau marinated orange and ginger tullie

4. Maze (Crown Melbourne – Now Closed) 

Tasting plates are a favourite of Travel Czar. Back in 2011, Travel Czar went to Melbourne and paid a visit to the new Gordon Ramsey restaurant called Maze in the Crown.

The food was amazing!!! Soft oily tuna, succulent scallops and a rabbit tasting plate. Nothing fell short of expectations.  Unfortunately the restaurant closed down, which was really sad.

So why have I included them if they have closed down?? Well he still has one in London, so hop on a plane and please visit them.

Yellow fin tuna tartar, white radish, yuzu, black garlic

Yellow fin tuna tartar, white radish, yuzu, black garlic

Roasted bay scallops & braised veal tail, parsnip, coral crisp

Roasted bay scallops & braised veal tail, parsnip, coral crisp

5. Airline Food (Qantas and British Airways) 

There is nothing more exhilarating than flying across the Atlantic Ocean, its beautiful, charming and very Travel Czarish (there you go I invented a word).

When I flew from New York to London a few years ago, my plane was delayed due to a snow storm (yes!!! – it either means more Airline lounge time or more time in the air). Travel Czar had boarded and they served me the best meal I have ever had on an airline (rack of veal – see below). I did the whole Transatlantic thing again last year, so please see here for the review

Braised Petite rack of veal with demi-glace, swiss chard and risotto with radicchio and parmesan

Braised Petite rack of veal with demi-glace, swiss chard and rissotto with radicchio and parmesan — at British Airways Boeing 747.

So nothing beats a jaunt across the Atlantic? Well maybe one thing, and that is the Qantas tasting menu. It is a thing of beauty, some of my favourite dishes from the A380 dining table are set out below – each a masterpiece of its own. Please check out my review from my flight last year for more detail.

Snapper poached in coconut milk and garam masala with fine egg noodles and snow peas

Sanpper poached in coconut milk and garam masala with fine eggg noodles and snow peas

Rockpool Bar and Grill style beef fillet on a bed of snow peas with a cauliflower & cheese gratin 


Castricum Brothers Lamb with fregola green beans and roasted garlic aioli

Castricum Borthers Lamb with fregola, green beans and roasted garlic aioli

5. Voyager Estate 

Located in Margaret River (3.5 hours south of my home in Perth) there is the picturesque Voyager Estate. A beautiful homely kinda place that has quality cuisine and some amazing wine to match. I just love it. The food is focused on fresh produce, local sourcing and simple presentation. The best things in life can be the simplest. Here are some memories.

Tasting Plate
* Pork belly with green paw paw salad and a ginger & lime dressing
* Mushroom pannacotta with tomato & parsley dressing
* Freshly shucked oysters with gazpachio
* Chicken liver parfait with Shiraz jelly and almond bread

Tasting Plate Voyager

Seared Margaret River venison with onion tart, carrot puree, whipped goats’ cheese and blackberry jus

Seared Margaret River venison with onion tart, carrot puree, whipped goats’ cheese and blackberry jus

6. Sydney Harbour Dining

Now I have grouped these three together as I love them equally & have had cherished memories of each – so they deserve a spot here.

Arguably the best restaurant in Sydney!  I have been there a couple of times! The food is amazing, the view (well out of this world) and the staff really know service. Book Early, Go Often… it’s currently the odds on favourite re: the location for when I propose to Mrs Travel Czar.

Fillet of Beef on truffled infused potato puree topped with bitter chocolate black pudding crumbs


Sauterne Jelly with Ice Cream 


My favourite place in Sydney – great views, amazing food, and a wine list to kill. Went there for my birthday last year – it was amazing. Nothing beats the degustation: succulent sous vide salmon, juicy roast lamb and matching wines – simple, stylish and beautiful. The soufflé is a must for dessert! Check out my visit this year.

The King Salmon” Confit fillet with avocado, vanilla and blood orange


“The Kurobuta Pork Belly” with chestnut puree and poached persimmons


“The Lamb” Roasted loin and neck with sugar loaf cabbage, sweetbreads, sorrel and salt bush


Now Sails is a hidden gem – view of the Bridge & Opera House. The perfect spot for amazing birthday dinner or that spesh date (just remember to focus on the girl not the view). 

Seared scallops, jamon, pea puree, brioche crumbs, pea shoots, maple dressing


Pan fried cone bay barramundi, cauliflower puree, spinach, caper, currant & pine nut salsa


Wine with a view that beats none


7. Nobu

Now is Sydney better then Melbourne?? – absolutely, with one tiny exception… the lack of Nobu in Sydney. Nobu does  fusion food with Japanese and South American flavours. I went there with the Travel Czar family a few years ago and the food was just stunning! Succulent wagyu beef, crunchy tuna rolls, amazing scallops and the dessert tasting plate. It’s the best.

Beef Tenderloin with Miso pickle


Tempura Tuna Roll in beautiful Miso sauce


Dessert Tasting Plate 


8. Le Blizzard (Val d’Isère)

A few years ago Travel Czar decided to do the whole “Life of a Ski Boy” thing. So he went to Val d’Isère (high on the French Alps on the border of Switzerland and France) to ski. As it turns out ski-ing wasn’t Travel Czar’s thing, so he sampled good food, stunning wine and enjoyed the “partay” scene instead.

Now when you’re on the slopes, the temp is -40 (degrees celsius) when you are on the chair lift at altitude – that’s so not fun. So I did the whole “pretend to be french thing” and ate foie gras on fresh crunchy baguettes, sampled wonderful wines and I also tried an amazing restaurant; Le Blizzard. Beautiful restaurant with fresh produce and amazing french cuisine with a touch of fusion. I recommend making the trek!

Lobster with Asian Greens 

Lobster - Asian Greens (Ski)

soufflé by any other name 


9. Claridges

Now is there anything more fun than Claridges!! I love it, it’s the one constant in my travels. It’s my thing, it’s what I do!

Every year, Travel Czar flies to London, heads to a cool hotel, chillaxes, then dons his winter jacket and cool boots and braves the London chill & heads to Claridges for their square meal (A tasting plate of beautiful fusion tapas). It’s the best! Food doesn’t have to be fancy to be cool – check out my review from last year and you’ll agree it’s the thing to do in London.

The Tasting Plate


10. Four Seasons

If you’ve seen Wolf of Wall St – this is kinda the restaurant the Wolfy would dine at. Have been there three times and can never get enough of it. They know service, the art of power dining and great food. JFK certainly had taste – he had Marilyn Munro sing him happy birthday Mr President at this place. So if you want be President or don’t care about politics or love good food – then this place is a must go.

The beautiful oxtail consume. The tender pieces of oxtail and seasoned vegatables are wrapped in a beautiful piece of cabbage which is situated in the middle of the succulent consume.

Oxtail consume with the oxtail wrapped in cabbage

The Venison with Sweatbread 



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