<![CDATA[Toast To Roast - Best Dishes 2012]]>Tue, 01 Mar 2016 17:04:45 -0800Weebly<![CDATA[Best Dishes 2012]]>Thu, 17 Jan 2013 03:23:13 GMThttp://www.toasttoroast.com/best-dishes-2012/best-dishes-2012Every dish listed in my “Best of” Tasting Menu is something that I would happily eat over and over again. However, within that comprehensive list there were some standouts that merit being highlighted further as my personal favourites.

Amuse Bouche

I am a big fan of the amuse bouche course where it is a chance for the chef to present imaginative small bites or dishes, often in complete contrast to the rest of the meal. The two main contenders here were from meals that started as an amuse bouche fest with a constant parade of items before the meal itself commenced properly. Overall, though, the charred pepper with wasabi soy dip from The Tippling Club stands out. An inventive presentation that confounded your expectations such that when you bit into you didn’t know what you were letting yourself in for. Nothing was charred, the burnt appearance coming from a squid ink batter. Most importantly, though, the combination of pepper, squid ink and the dip tasted fantastic.

Bread

It seems odd to focus on the bread as a high point of a meal at a restaurant but the potato sourdough bread from Alyn Williams at The Westbury was brilliant. It had a wonderful flavour and the coarse lumps of potato helped give it that extra pleasurable note.

Appetiser(s)

In the summer of 2012, L’Enclume moved away from an established menu so they could changed he dishes daily based on the availability of ingredients from Simon Rogan’s farm. On the day of my visit, the triumvirate of dishes comprising cod yolk followed by Westcombe dumplings and venison tartare was very impressive. The standout for me was Westcombe dumplings, turnip and anise hyssop starting immediately with the wonderful smell of the foamy turnip broth that topped the dumplings. The light dumplings melted in the mouth with their intense cheddar flavour and the broth tasted as good as it smelt.

Two months later and a visit to Roganic listed heir variation on the Rogan cheese dumpling theme, this time using Keen’s Cheddar. The dumplings were equally good and had a more classical accompaniment of onion cream, crisp seared silverskin onions and wild chervil foam and liquorice powder. It’s impossible to pick a favourite between these two variations. Suffice to say, jump at the chance to sample them if it comes your way.
My other appetiser of choice was a wonderful trip down memory lane. That would count for nothing if the menu item concerned wasn’t a truly excellent execution of the dish in question. Thanks to the Hind’s Head for a truly lovely soused mackerel. A generous portion of the firm fleshed fish with its taste boosted by the mildly spicy vinegary sousing liquid was a sure-fire winner for me. The addition of pickled onion, horseradish cream, cucumber and pickled lemon provided classic accompaniments to the star of the plate.

Fish main

Visiting any restaurant. I’m far more inclined to order fish than meat so it was surprising looking back at the year and see that the meat had been the focal point for the majority of my favourite main courses. However, looking back through the year, there was one thoroughly inventive and balanced fish dish that stood out. The River Severn wild sea trout with quinoa, smoked eel, cucumber and keta from Lumière centred round an expertly cooked piece of trout. The invention came from the supporting cast starting with a glorious smoked eel cream in a cucumber jelly wrap on top of the fish. Underneath the trout was a portion of quinoa that had absorbed enough of a piquant cucumber and tomato sauce to acquire body. The influence of the sauce was substantial and was a huge part in making this dish a real winner.

Meat main

My favourite meat main course was the squab pigeon with truffle, girolles, black pudding and sage from Lumière that as well as tasting phenomenally good showed the amount of thought that had gone in to pulling the dish together. Juicy, tender pigeon breast was served on mixed cabbage and onion and accompanied by breaded spicy pigeon leg. Small girolles and baby turnips provided rich, deep mushroom flavour and crunch to the dish, respectively. Fried sage leaves provided crunchy savoury falvour while pickled onions added refreshing acid to counterbalance the rich meat. A layered truffle and potato terrine was lovely in itself but sensational when combined with the meat. The final touch was spots of black pudding purée that added spicy hits to the whole dish.

Dessert

And finally, the best dessert. My overall impression at most places is that desserts are something of an afterthought. This means that the list of potential top desserts for the year is very short compare to the list of impressively inventive savoury dishes, My favourite dessert of the year was the milk chocolate, peanut and blackcurrant from Gwynnett Street.  The wonderfully creamy chocolate ganache disk combined perfectly with the sharp cassis sorbet with additional acidic bursts of flavour fro juicy blackcurrants. Peanut combined really well with the chocolate and blackcurrant whether it was the crumble on top of the dish or the small portions of light peanut mousse. 

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