The best dishes of 2019
Published 27 January 2019

Potato and Roe at Core by Clare Smyth

Consultant editor Elizabeth Carter and our brigade of undercover inspectors reveal their most memorable dishes from a year of extraordinary eating

'A humble potato opener at Clare Smyth’s Core teamed with salty herring and trout roe and a caramel-sweet dulse beurre blanc proved good enough to be served at Harry and Meghan’s wedding.'

'At Ynyshir, Gareth Ward’s mini wagyu burger is an amazing nugget of meat, crisp on the outside, tender within, and topped with pickled lettuce and a blob of sourdough mayo in place of the bread.'

'Birmingham’s Harborne Kitchen gave me one of the best chicken liver parfaits I’ve ever had. Dotted with white chocolate and served with strawberries, macadamia nuts and shards of crisp chicken skin, the mix of umami and sweet flavours is incredible.'

'At Tom Brown’s Cornerstone, a delicate fillet of plaice paired with sweet, tender lobster in a puddle of buttery paprika sauce was sublime. Elsewhere in London, Magpie’s 'coq au vin' is two chunks of deep-fried chicken in a thick red wine sauce offset by a red wine-pickled onion.'

'The strawberry ice cream sandwich at Restaurant Nathan Outlaw was one of my desserts of the year. At The Small Holding in Kent, sweet strawberries, basil ice cream, crumbly shortbread and dots of lemon cream was a winning combo.'

‘The jasmine and wild pea-flower religieuse at Hide Above, Mayfair was sensational; such a joy to encounter a pastry kitchen with both classical skills and the desire to do something decidedly different.’

‘A plate of pickled aubergines at Albertine's wine bar in Shepherd's Bush, London. Sitting on creamy tahini and sprinkled with crispy fried capers and served with flatbread for scooping, it had me almost licking the plate clean.’

‘In Soho, London, Pastaio's ’nduja, mozzarella and honey toasted sandwich was a messy, joyful mouthful. I had to order another.’

‘Nieves Barragàn Mohacho is a brilliant but modest chef who sweats the small stuff, such as in the balance of acidity in the dressing on a simple winter tomato salad at Sabor in Mayfair.’

‘My most memorable dish? Raspberry powder buttermilk plantain with smoked scotch-bonnet mayonnaise at Ikoyi, a West African restaurant in St James's.’

‘At New Yard near Mawgan, Cornwall, a thick slice of barbecued beetroot topped with whipped goat’s curd, paper-thin slices of pickled beetroot and beer vinaigrette. It had earthiness, umami and acidity. It looked terrific, too.’

‘Two from A. Wong, Victoria: first a dainty, Zhou dynasty-style crab claw, cut open at table and filled with diced, cured scallop and wasabi, then Xi’an City ‘lamb burger’ with sesame, coriander and chilli.’

‘Pig’s head terrine at Audela, Berwick-upon-Tweed was a paradise of porcine perfection, while simple, sautéed spring-lamb offal at The Feathers Inn, Hedley on the Hill was a tasty plateful that many places don’t have the confidence to offer.’

‘Two tartes tatin were memorable for different reasons: the delicacy of Rogan's apple tartlet at Roganic and the unreconstructed, sticky charm of
the version at Evelyn's Table.’

Jidori's ginger ice cream with miso caramel, sweet potato crisps and black sesame is a triumphant pud. A riot of sweet and salty flavours, the miso caramel takes it to another level.’

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