Travel: Dining out like the rich and famous
THIS is going to read like I'm showing off but bear with me, I think you'll like it. I've been watching a television show called The World's Best Restaurants, and up popped a restaurant I've been to.
Well, the excitement of it, of seeing one of the best restaurants in the world featured on a television show about the best restaurants in the world, and I have visited it.
Three times. (I did warn you about the showing off.)
The restaurant is the world's highest alfresco restaurant, Sirocco, on the 64th floor on the top of the Lebua State Tower in Bangkok.
Although Sirocco is unimaginably thrilling - it is like dining on a platform in the sky just below heaven - it is not all that expensive. And if you are staying in one of the rooms (also not expensive) in the Lebua State Tower, you simply must dine there.
This television show has me roused and thinking of other outrageously glamorous restaurants I have visited around the globe. (Yes, more showing off but hang in there.)
How about the Four Seasons in Paris? I had a glass of brandy in La Galerie lounge with its Flemish tapestries and 19th century paintings, and in the morning breakfast in Le Cinq dining room with its grey and gold decor and just a few potted palms and those extraordinary lavish floral arrangements by celebrity florist Jeff Leatham.
I remember a lot of whooshing through the air of silver cloche domes in Le Cinq to reveal exquisite poached eggs and dainty curls of bacon with creative flourishes of parsley.
One European summer I dined in a castle on a hill in Tuscany. My man and I had a table a deux in the corner of the castle by its ramparts.
With the undulating green hills of Tuscany unfurling below us it was a magical experience, and magical was needed after my man thought it a good idea to have pre-dinner drinks in our room in the castle where the best view of the rolling Tuscan countryside was from the toilet window.
He made me take my glass of Prosseco into the loo, where I had to straddle the bidet while balancing my bubbles and a plate of olives. Not my most dignified cocktail hour despite the Tuscan castle setting.
Some years ago I dined under the stars on a deck flanked by tropical foliage overlooking a moonlit sea on Orpheus Island. It was memorable for the sublime food and attentive service, but I was alone on the island apart from a young gay man who joined me for dinner.
Although his company was excellent and appreciated, it didn't quite add to the romance of the tropical island scene.
I have dined on top of the Eiffel Tower twice. Once in Paris (as you do) and once in the fake Eiffel Tower in Vegas.
The Paris experience was everything it should be with the city and the Seine way below and the lights twinkling as evening turned to dark night and I ate foie gras.
In the fake Vegas Eiffel Tower, not so good.
We had not made a reservation and had to sit at the bar and wait until a table became free, which it didn't.
We waited it out until the maitre'd could no longer bear the sight of us getting slowly drunk at the bar and finally led us to a table at the back of the restaurant where we had a lovely view of the rubbish bins below.
I have stood outside the French Laundry in California trying to peek inside each time a couple of privileged customers entered this hallowed of all the world's most famous restaurants.
I have also stood outside the formidable gates of the Great Southern Ocean Lodge on Kangaroo Island where its lounge-dining room has sweeping views of the Southern Ocean that zap you of all breath (I've seen the photos).
There is more. I won't bang on. As the television program says: dining like this allows you to rent a wealthy person's life.
I have enjoyed unforgettable dining experiences in so many glamorous locations, but I have equally enjoyed the beef and burgundy pie at my local RSL. I like balance.