My 2011 golf travel awards part 3: Devouring good golf grub
It’s been a strange year for me when it comes to food (read last year’s adventures here). I’ve been on an extended diet this fall, losing 20 pounds. At the same time, I’ve splurged on some awesome eats. Just writing about this list of great restaurant experiences has me salivating for more.
* Best U.S. resort restaurant: I liked the coffee-rubbed filet at Mesa Grill, by celebrity chef Bobby Flay, inside Caesars Palace Las Vegas the best. It was spicy greatness. Runners-up: Mesazul Steakhouse at Doral Golf Resort & Spa in Miami. Geneva Chophouse at Grand Resort & Spa in Lake Geneva, Wis.
* Best International resort restaurant: Eating in the K Club surrounded by classic paintings and ornate decor was grand. I wisely skipped the fine wine and stuck with my beloved Guinness, which goes great with just about anything.
* Best off-property restaurant: Any meal in Maui is special, but the Lahaina Grill on Front Street in downtown Lahaina feels extra fab, from the setting to the service (see photo of my sea bass dish below). I’m not the only person who thinks this is the best restaurant on the island.
* Best restaurant ambiance: I had a haunting experience dining in the small castle keep of Barberstown Castle outside Dublin, Ireland (see photo above). I was the only one in this stone-wall, candle-lit room. Shadows jumped as a storm raged outside this supposedly haunted hotel. Creep cool!
* Best dinner party: I loved the post-Solheim Cup dinner party at Slane Castle, a historic castle in the Irish countryside that hosts a major outdoor concert once a year.
* Best presentation: The endless supply of meats on swords and shish kabobs at Rodizio at Turning Stone Resort & Casino in Verona, N.Y., was much fun but overly filling.
* Most romantic dining experience: My wife and I watched the sun set poolside in a private cabana at Ko at the Fairmont Kea Lani on Maui. I’m curious to see what Ko will look like after a major renovation is completed this spring.
* Best clubhouse restaurant: Gannon’s, a Pacific View Restaurant, in the clubhouse for the Wailea Golf Club’s Gold and Emerald Courses in Maui serves up great food for lunch and even better sunsets for dinner. Runner-up: The Wynn Country Club restaurant in Las Vegas. Who knew a golf clubhouse could serve the meanest shrimp and grits plate ever?
* Best steak at a restaurant: My Las Vegas golf trip featured three straight nights of steakhouses. The winner was the The STK at The Cosmopolitan, although The Palm inside Caesars Palace Las Vegas and SW Steakhouse at the Wynn Las Vegas were almost as good.
* Best seafood at a restaurant: I devoured a huge spiny tail lobster at The Spice Mill at Cockleshell Beach on St. Kitts. This open-air restaurant sits on an intimate beach with a small bar shaped like a dug-out canoe right on the sand. It’s too good not to go again.
* Best Mexican food at a restaurant: Cafe Coyote in the Heart of Old Town San Diego’s Historic Walking District was a treasure. The burritos cooking outside on the grill made the whole patio smell like heaven. My stomach did a triple-jump as soon as my family walked by. They tasted just as good as they smelled.
* Biggest surprise restaurant: I didn’t get to dine at the five-star Addison, but I can’t image it being any better than Amaya at The Grand Del Mar Golf Resort in San Diego. My wife and I dined peacefully next to an outdoor fireplace while the children ran around the outdoor courtyard.
* Funniest chef experience: My meal at the Bayside Dining at Drummond Island Resort & Conference Center in Michigan was perfectly good, but the highlight came when the chef sat down for a chat after dessert. He told funny stories of being the only white kid growing up among African-American friends in inner-city Detroit.
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