So many Michelin stars float around London’s culinary universe, its getting the second that really nails it.
Brett Graham of The Ledbury (and formerly, my favourite restaurant Phil Howard’s The Square) has his two in the locker, and by whatever metrics these things are decided, The Ledbury is, according to San Pellegrino, one of the Top20 restaurants on planet earth. Which is why we had to book in July for a Saturday in October. Good things come to those that wait?
Unassuming on the outside, quietly stylish with hospitable hum on the inside, if we are to be rock-star dazzled it will be on the plate. Eight of them to be precise as we are having the tasting menu, at a mouth-watering £115 without a drop of wine. Tasting menus are for me sometimes troublesome. One, there is no traditional beginning, middle and end, lacking the true centrepiece of the main course. But on a good day, starter sized gastro works of art regurlarly arrive in front of you. I am expecting the latter.
The Amuses Bouches themselves are pretty spectacular. Dried seaweed with a smoked mussel mousse, some sort of deer dumpling and a dinky guinea fowl puff bun. Our bouches have been amused.
Violet Artichokes was a uber-refreshing celebration of the artichoke with muscat grapes and a remarkable grated frozen foie gras. Round two was simply called Tomatoes but, as you may have guessed, the reality was considerably more complex – Black Russian, Pineapple Ribbed and Datterini toms with a green tomato juice and Lobster oil. Precisely executed, beautifully presented and a timely reminder that a tomato can deliver real flavour punch.
Next, warm bantam’s egg with celeriac, dried ham and truffle, followed by the fish: Cornish turbot (the emperor of the ocean) with cauliflower and bonito (cousin of the mackerel) butter.
Jowl of pork, presumably slow cooked for a decade or two with shaved mushrooms and fig…. cue food review cliche… melted in the mouth. Highly elevated homely cooking.
I don’t know if I have ever eaten Hare but now I have. And I like embracing robust British produce. Gamey richness with quince and pickled wild Rose. What is clear is that Graham’s kitchen delivers beautifully engineered ingredients that are even more than the sum of their parts. That’s why we go to expensive restaurants right?
Two desserts, a Citrus Curd with sauternes and frozen mandarin juice followed by a chocolate tartlet. I am a savoury guy till I die so always favour the start and middle of dining. The citrus zing of the curd was a suitable curtain call to proceedings.
The extensive wine list ranges from the pretty reasonable to get a second mortgage prices but the excellent sommelier can guide you through the less extravagantly priced vintages. We sneaked in a crispy Reisling and a Chateauneuf du Pap at just under the tasting menu price.
Meals like this shouldn’t come every day, unless you have won the lottery. It would get boring? Restaurants like The Ledbury, and The Square for me should be treats, occasional indulgences, special occasions. Indulgent, a treat, a special occasion.
127 Ledbury Rd, W11 2AQ
020 7792 9090