Rather than highlight best starters, mains etc, here is a summary of the best dishes that could come together to give a very satisfactory tasting menu. 2011 seemed to be a very good year for food and I could easily have pulled together a second menu with the same number of dishes that I'd immediately want to eat again if given the chance. The items listed below were the ones that stood out the most for me.
But first a drink to sip while thinking about the food. Only one option here - the magnificent Marmalade on Toast cocktail from Lumiere.
For canapes, Pork & Eel Croquette from Roganic, Parmesan Tuile from Murano and Risotto Balls with Mushroom and Parmesan from Murano
For breads, it would have to be the Bread with Pickled Herrings from Launceston Place and the Chestnut and Thyme Flatbread from Roganic
Onto the dishes proper and first up is Iron Bark pumpkin soup from Trinity. A dish that I would have never considered ordering but turned out to be fabulous.
Next up is Shaun Hill's twice-baked Welsh Goat's cheese souffle, as served at Ffresh in Cardiff Bay. So good that my daughter stole half of it from me.
Moving onto another fantastic dish. This rates as possibly my favourite scallop dish ever. Diver-caught Oban Bay scallops, Pork Belly, Cumin Caramel, Carrot, Orange & Anise Purée from Lumière
The next dish was stunning. Braddock White, Pickled Roots, Ox Eye Daisy, Salt Beef & Chervil Puree from Roganic
The following dish was as good to eat as it was to look at. The Cheltenham Beetroot with Sussex Slipcote, Chorizo, Sweetcorn, Long Pepper Tuile & Salad Cream from Lumiere
The next dish was sheer brilliance. Cauliflower & Squid with Clear Roasted Squid Juice from Pollen Street Social. Ate it twice and it was fantastic both times.
I had two variations of this dish. Langoustine, Cured Char, Purple Sprouting Broccoli, Crab Apple Puree &Chokeberry Vinaigrette at Roganic. The char in the unsmoked version was the element that meant that was the version I preferred.
The Alkimia tasting menu was really good and this was the standout item. Pickled Oyster with Glazed Pork Cheek & Spinach Saute
Next choice is another Roganic dish. Mr Little's Yetholm Gypsies cooked in Chicken Fat, Snow Peas, Crispy Chicken Skin, Goat's Curd & Clam Juice.
On to more substantial fish courses and the first choice is Roast Cod with Celeriac Puree, Broccoli, Almonds & Anchovy Vinagrette. The dish was sensational and the anchovy vinaigrette was an inspired ingredient in the way it elevated it completely.
The next dish was the best use I've seen of squid ink. Pan-fried Sea Bream, Cauliflower & Parsley Puree, Squid Ink Stew from Bistrot Bruno Loubet.
For meat courses one of the standouts was Mallard with Salsify, Chicory & Orange from Manson
L'Enclume had a number of lovely dishes and the standout course was the Yew Tree Farm Herdwick Hogget in Mulled Cider, Baked Celeriac & Pennywort
Moving onto desserts and first up is Lemon Posset with Blackberries & Vanilla Shortbread from Medlar.
Next up a truly wonderful dessert from Roganic. Warm Salted Chocolate Mousse with Apple Sorbet, William, Cobnuts & Atsina.
Last but not least. Valrhona Guanaja Dark Chocolate Delice, Smoked Salt, Pecan, Sesame Canneloni stuffed with Bourbon "Cheesecake" and Brown Bread Ice Cream from Lumiere.