301-303 Chiswick High Road
Tel. 020 8747 0377
Food type: Modern European
Nearest tube: Gunnersbury/ Chiswick Park
The last time I dined at Hedone, was back in April, when my sister and her husband were around in London to attend our wedding. It just goes to show that time does fly very quickly as it was only 5 months ago that my wife and I were all stressing over all the details of our wedding. Our last meal at Hedone was mind-blowing and when I had a Friday afternoon free, I jumped at the chance to pop in for a solo lunch here to try some more of Mikael’s cooking.
As mentioned previously, there is no real menu of sorts. You basically decide how many courses you would like and leave it to the chef to compose the flow of the menu. At lunch, there is a shorter menu priced at £45 but for the full experience, only the carte blanche menu (£125) would suffice. Mikael quickly checked what I had on my last visit to ensure I could try as many new dishes as possible. Hedone was also celebrating their 5th birthday and Aurelie brought me a complementary glass of champagne.
First the canapés – the foie gras on meringue and tuna nicoise cornetto remain the same as before. Instead of the deconstructed ‘Fish n Chip” however, Mikael served his version of a sushi. In the middle of a crispy nori (seaweed) cylinder was a rice foam with a slice of cured red mullet sitting on top. I loved the intensity of the rice foam tasting truly of the essence of the rice. It is rumoured that a food blogger once told Araki-san that Mikael’s sushi was better than his. I’m sure that was meant to be a joke.
The poached oyster I had on my last visit received a small tweak with the addition of strawberries which was relatively mild. The strawberry was there to provide a little acidity alongside the sorrel with a fruity note tagged on to it. I love the poached oyster here as they have some how managed to retain all the salinity of the oyster but at the same time improve its texture by the cooking process. The flavour of the oyster continues to linger in my mouth for a good 5 minutes after eating the dish. This was then followed by their parmesan custard and bread which I have talked about previously.
The next new dish as a seasonal tomato salad made from datterini tomatoes with thin slices of peaches. This dish was surprising for me because I had expected the sweet peaches to completely overwhelm the dish and make it taste more of a dessert. However, there was a good amount of acidity both from the balsamic vinegar as well as the tomatoes themselves which helped offset the sweetness. Additionally a few rocket leaves added a peppery note to the dish. A wonderful summery dish.
We then took a trip to Spain with a dish of cuttlefish and red pepper. Two slices of cuttlefish had been grilled on the plancha were cooked in such a way to retain its inherent crunchiness. While this way of cooking cuttlefish may not be popular with the average Caucasian diner, many of whom would struggle with food which involves actual chewing, this is how I like eating my cuttlefish (as opposed to slow cooking it until it is a complete mush). With that, was a red pepper sauce, broad beans and a foam made from Amantidillo sherry. The only thing missing was the Spanish sunshine.
The most exciting dish of the day was the scallop which was prepared a la minute and then cooked in a steam oven at 62 C with soy butter for around 9 minutes. This was just enough time to set the protein of the scallop and as Mikael would describe it ‘make it stand up’. The scallop is then finished with some seaweed powder. While on the surface, this may sound rather simplistic, the eating experience of this dish was on another level. The scallop itself was transformed by the cooking process, taking on a custardy texture that I have not previously experienced before. The cooking process also helped maximise the natural sweetness of the scallop which when paired with the one-two umami punch from the soy and seaweed. This is transcendent cooking – one which has utter respect of the quality of the produce and a chef who is confident enough with it to do as little as possible to bring out its beauty.
Next, we journeyed to Thailand with a langoustine tail served with courgettes and Thai flavour. Needless to say the langoustines were of amazing quality and judging from the texture, I am pretty sure the langoustines were live specimens delivered to the kitchen. The courgettes had been grilled to a point that it had developed a complex nuttiness to it which married beautifully with the Thai flavours. What was interesting though is that courgettes are not inherently Thai – in fact you would struggle to find any courgettes in that part of the world – yet it felt so right in the context of this dish and made for a delightful eating experience.
With the seafood dishes out of the way, it was time for some meat, and what a treat they were. First, suckling pig belly served with apricots and girdles. In the past, Mikael would get his pork from famed butcher Hugo Desnoyer. However, these days, he chooses to buy directly from the farmer instead bringing in whole pigs. Depending on your luck, you may get different cuts of the same pig. This is a great idea, as depending on his guests, Mikael can choose to serve different parts of the pig. For example, the Chinese people consider the belly the prime cut whereas it would be loin for most English people. Needless to say, working with a small producer, the pork was of exceptional quality – tasting like pork for one and having excellent fat to meat ratio.
The final savoury course was Australian Wagyu beef, with a simple herb salad to provide relief to the beef. The beef itself was not overly marbled and as such had a good texture without being overly buttery but at the same time having enough fat content to give it a nice huge meaty, beefy flavour. I first came across the idea of herb salad when dining at Robuchon where he pairs it with beef or quail. Whether this is a nod to Robuchon’s cooking, I am not sure, but the salad definitely works in this context.
After a nibble of cheese, the dessert sequence began. Mikael’s signature dish of coconut meringue and cinnamon received a little reworking with raspberries instead of strawberries which I had last time around. The kitchen has both versions prepped so it shows some flexibility on their part they can swap one element for another particularly if a diner has a particular allergy to say strawberries. For the raspberry version, a little balsamic vinegar is also added to contrast the raspberries.
Finally, the last dish of the day was a chocolate bar which has undergone multiple revisions. The 2016 version is made with a speculoos biscuit base and garnished with a wonderfully made morello cherry sorbet. The chocolate bar had a deep chocolate flavour and a complex texture. Excellent.
This was yet another impressive meal at Hedone. It is a complete mystery as to why Michelin thinks that the restaurant is only deserving of a solitary star. This is clearly a slap in the face given the restaurant is clearly cooking at a higher and more ambitious level than plenty of other 1* restaurants in London. This is all good for me though because booking a table here, particularly with just 22 seats, remains tricky.