127 Ledbury Road,
London, W11 2AQ
Tel: 020 7792 9090
Food type: French/ Modern Eclectic
Food rating: 7/10
Nearest tube: Westbourne Grove/ Notting Hill
Website: The Ledbury
Ah! Autumn… my favourite season of all. Not only the beautiful sights of brown leaves carpeting the local park. Nor is it the fact that the weather is just right – not the sweltering heat of summer or the icy-dagger of winter… well bar the occasional rain (but then this IS London after all). No, autumn is my favourite season of them all because it is the season of game, apples and wild mushrooms of all shapes and sizes. As such, the advent of autumn had me searching for the best autumn had to offer – grouse, fresh porcini and the some yummy English apples.
The Ledbury is a One Michelin star restaurant located at Notting Hill. The area is certainly not associated with fine dining or haute cuisine. Indeed, the restaurant is an area which not so long ago was synonymous with drug dealing. The Ledbury is the sister restaurant of the (more expensive) Two Michelin Star restaurant, The Square (which is also on my to try list). The head chef here, Brett Graham, hails from Newcastle, Australia and is touted by many in the food circle to be one of the rising stars to watch. The restaurant’s deco is contemporary with the waiters smartly dressed in all black instead of the traditional dinner jackets. There is also a small outside dining area should weather prove to be favourable.
The 3 course a la carte menu is priced at £60 (you pay for 3 even if you only eat 2 courses) and is full of autumnal goodies. While the cuisine is described as Modern French, it is best to describe it as being eclectic as it draws from various cuisines for inspiration. For example, Mackerel is also served with shiso (an ingredient commonly used in Japanese cooking) while Sea Bass is accompanied by the very Italian Caponata. There is also a 7 course tasting menu priced at £70.
We were presented with canapes in the form of a Foie Gras Parfait on Feuille de Brique while we were perusing the menu. Feuille de brique is a North African form of pastry which is very, very thin. Much like puff pastry and filo, it can be used for savoury or sweet dishes. Here, the feuille de brique was presented with two lines of smooth Foie gras and garnished with some cress leaves. A dash of paprika and poppy seeds added some heat and nuttiness which really lifted the rich liver. (7/10)
Beetroot Baked in Salt and Marjoram with Hazelnuts and a Chantilly of Ewes Milk Cheese
An amuse bouche of Beetroot Baked in Salt and Marjoram with Hazelnuts and a Chantilly of Ewes Milk Cheese kicked off our dinner. This dish is actually one of the vegetarian options available on the menu so it was a nice touch from the restaurant to offer us a taster sized version of this dish. The beetroot was baked for 24 hours in salt and marjoram and served with with a balsamic reduction which added a touch of acidity and tartness to the sweetness of the beetroot. The cheese provided a good counterpoint to cut through the beetroot. I also loved the addition of hazelnuts to the dish as it served a dual purpose of adding texture as well as nuttiness. (6/10)
There were 3 types of bread available – Sourdough, Bacon and Onion and Brown with Olive. The Sourdough is actually supplied by Marcus Miller (who also supplies Gordon Ramsay’s Royal Hospital Road restaurant) was rather chewy. (5/10) The Bacon and Onion bread which was made on site and was of very good quality. (7/10)
My starter of Ravioli of Grouse and Cepe with Elderberries and Veloute of Toasted Bread was a witty play on the classical Roasted Grouse with Bread sauce. A single Ravioli (or more correctly Raviolo) stuffed full of grouse and cepe sits majestically in the middle of the plate topped off with some elderberries and fried shallots. This was accompanied by some magnificent grouse jus and bread sauce (ok ok… toasted bread veloute) and a dusting of cepe (or porcini) powder. The ravioli was a joy to eat – packed full of flavour although one slight nit pick (and this is me splitting hairs) was that the pasta was a fraction too thick. (7/10)
Terrine of Foie Gras and Pain d’ Epices with Mango and Carbernet Vinegar Caramel
J’s starter of Terrine of Foie Gras and Pain d’ Epices with Mango and Carbernet Vinegar Caramel was in my opinion less impressive. while the components of the dish on the whole was well thought out and well executed, there seemed to be an element of excitement or adventure here. The terrine was served with a generous slice of bread. (5/10)
Loin of Roe Buck Deer with Celeriac Baked in Ash, Sweet Potato, Douglas Fir and Pepper
My main of Loin of Roe Buck Deer with Celeriac Baked in Ash, Sweet Potato, Douglas Fir and Pepper was also very enjoyable. The venison, of the farmed variety, was served nice and pink (well I wouldn’t have it any other way) had a delicate and subtle flavour. This was balanced by the sweet potato mash which was garnished by chopped olives which lent a touch of saltiness. A venison sausage was probably my favourite component of the dish – it was garnished with a sprig of Douglas Fir (a coniferous tree) which was a witty reminder of the season. The Baked celeriac was an interesting component from a technical point of view which also balanced the sweet potato very well. (7/10)
Confit Suckling Pig with Spiced Peach, Salsify and Ham Beignet, Baby Onions Pickled in White Beer
J’s main was a Confit Suckling Pig with Spiced Peach, Salsify and Ham Beignet, Baby Onions Pickled in White Beer. The suckling pig was cooked for 24 hours resulting in the flesh being moist and tender (well, that’s not hard to considering this is a suckling pig) with an intense pork flavour. The crackling was out of this world (I did eat most of the crackling….) . The beignet was also a lovely little treat. (7/10)
The cheese: Comte, Brillat Savarin, Epoisses, Camembert, Roquefort
At about this time, a cheese trolley whizzed past us to serve another table. I could not resist the siren’s call and opted for a plate to share with J. The cheese trolley was a mixture of French and Italian cheeses. The French cheese were supplied by Jacques Vernier of Paris and were in varying conditions. I enjoyed some very good Roquefort and equally fresh Comte although Epoisses (my favourite cheese) was slightly past its best. The cheese were served with some excellent Walnut and Raisin bread, crackers and grapes. Overall a very able 6/10.
Lime Jelly, Vanilla Foam and Polenta Crumble
A pre-dessert of Lime Jelly, Vanilla Foam and Polenta Crumble was enjoyable. The lime jelly had a very good balance of acidity and sweetness. The addition of polenta to the crumble added a good crunch to the crumble I’m surprised chefs do not utilize this trick more often. (6/10)
My Raspberry Ripple Soufflé with White Chocolate and Elderflower Ice Cream was a textbook example of a well executed souffle. The souffle checked all the tick boxes of the components of a very good souffle – light, airy with a good balance of sweetness offsetting the raspberries. A spoonful of white chocolate ice cream which was shoved into the souffle complemented the souffle really well. (8/10)
I did not try J’s Chocolate Pave with Sunflower Seeds and Basil.
We round off dinner with some Rose tea and Petit Fours. The petit fours came in a tray and amongst those, we chose some macaroons, dark chocolate truffle and apricot jelly. These were served on a tray lined with cocoa pieces. The petit fours were pleasant. (6/10)
Overall, dinner at the Ledbury was a very enjoyable affair. The food here was consistently good and in a few dishes had elements of excitement and adventure. Service here was pleasant and unobtrusive – they were happy to offer us tap water after our initial bottle of still water had run out. In short, this restaurant is definitely worthy of its Michelin star and if it continues to keep up its high standards and add more invention to all its dishes I could foresee a second one in the future.