New Year's Resolutions — Dine Well in 2011

Welcome to 2011!  It’s already nearly a week old and we’re just getting around to making our New Year’s Resolutions — perfect timing.  The unreality of having a dead tree in the house and leftover feast in the fridge and the family hanging around was putting us right off balance.  But now that life has returned to normal — children back at school, aunts dispatched home, all workers on the job, home decor nearly back in trim except for a few pine needles in the carpet, rain out there rather than ice and snow — we can assess what we really want to accomplish this year.
We only have a few January resolutions that relate to toptable, but they are choice.
1.  We resolve to satisfy our appetites.

Life is about appetite.  Think about it.  We bet that you are at your most fascinating, truest, most irresistible, best when you’re in pursuit of the fulfillment of your appetites.  When you’re hungry for learning or new experience or giving love or seeking adventure or success, you’re focussed, full of energy and happy.
This is the toptable blog, so we’re naturally going to tie ‘satisfying our appetites’ in with food.  And here goes. No diets, they only fail anyway. Instead, we recall how satisfied we feel when we’ve dined well, especially with friends. So rather than stuffing ourselves with convenience food or feeling guilty about eating delicious things, we’re going to dine well, in company, like they used to do in France and still do in Spain and Italy.  We’re going to give our eating the time and attention it deserves and we’re going to multiply the pleasure of the table by eating with family and friends whenever humanly possible.  Lunch, brunch, tea, supper.  Every meal is an opportunity and we’re going to grab as many as we can.  Which leads us to…
2.  We resolve to carpe the dining diem.
We recognise that we’re in the midst of a golden age of culinary creation, experimentation and the pleasures of the table and by golly we’re going to sample as many wonderful dining experiences as we can.  We’re not jillionaires so we’re certainly going to be taking advantage of toptable’s special offers, but we’re also going to make plans now to get to those interesting restaurants we’ve never found the time for before.  City centre gastropalaces, suburban jewels run by dedicated husband-and-wife teams, new-style country pubs, seaside dining rooms — they’re all on our list for 2011 and we’re starting to book now.
3.  We resolve to use the 2-4-1 offers to connect with the mates we miss.
Every year Christmas rolls around and there’s this Christmas card list of people we really enjoy whom we haven’t seen for months. Sure, life is busy, but it’s also short.   We’re going to take our dining out budget, book a bunch of 2-4-1 offers and 50% off deals and start texting those people to get together.
4.  We resolve to eat at a Michelin star restaurant at least once.  Maybe even once a month.

The new Michelin stars are due out next week and we want to be part of the fun.  The amazing thing about Michelin-starred restaurants is that they’re like the prettiest girl at the party who ends up never dancing because everyone’s too self-conscious to talk to her.  Michelin starred restaurants are absolutely brilliant, but they want to be loved just like the rest of us, and a bunch of them offer special deals to encourage you to get past your shyness and make the introduction.  Who, you say?  Check out this list:

Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester

Three-star Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester has 15% off the tasting menu and the seasonal menu — the best the kitchen can do — right now for supper on Tuesday through Friday evenings until 5 February.  Beat that.
Two-star l’Atelier de Joel Robuchon has two amazing courses for £22 at lunch and early supper every day all week until 14 January, so we’d better book that one first.
One-star Apsleys — A Heinz Beck Restaurant (with a very long name) at the beautiful Lanesborough Hotel in London has three superb special offers right now: three-course lunch with a glass of wine for £35, three-course dinner with a glass of fizz for £45 and private dining with a magnum of Taittinger £55.


One-star Benares in Mayfair, Michelin’s first Indian restaurant with a star, has a pair of really intriguing offers, either a two-course platter menu for early supper for £24 or a free Chutney Martini with a Benares platter at lunch.
One-star (we bet it’s rising this year) Galvin at Windows has two special offers as well, three course lunch is £29 and three course supper is £39, and the amazing view is free.
One-star The Greenhouse restaurant in Mayfair is offering a three-course lunch for £25 and a six-course dinner Monday through Thursday for just £55.  Amazing value for a dining experience of this quality.
One-star Maze — Gordon Ramsay is part of the amazing Gordon Ramsay January sale, so it’s got three courses for £30 for lunch and early supper right through the month.  Hurry hurry hurry.
One-star Tamarind in Mayfair has a trio of magical special offers to try: 2-4-1 family Sunday lunch, 2-4-1 tasting menu at lunchtime and three courses for £27.50 for early supper.
And those are just the London restaurants!
5.  We resolve to rack up top rewards points for something special.
If we’re going to do all this mindful, satisfying dining out with friends and family, we’re certainly going to book through toptable and get all the top rewards points we can.  And then we’re going to blinking spend them on another meal with a mate.  And we might just book our theatre tickets and hotels through toptable to earn even more.  If there’s something going free, in 2011 we’re going to jump in and get our share.
6.  We resolve to eat like a local wherever we land.
It hasn’t happened for a while, but we really, really don’t want to have the experience of being hungry in a foreign country,  falling into a shiny tourist trap and feeling like a chump.  We’re booking before we go to France, Italy, Germany, New York, Spain and a bunch of other places this year, and we’re downloading the toptable app so we can keep on booking as we travel.  No more cardboard pizzas.  Authentic local cuisine is our new watchword when travelling.
So that’s the list: dine in a way that makes us happy and fulfills our appetites, make sure we get all the gifts we can, try dining at a Michelin-starred restaurant, reconnect with friends, save money.  That sounds like a super list and if we can accomplish half of it even half the time, then 2011 is going to be a terrific year.