Two Michelin Stars, 14th in this years The World’s 50 Best Restaurants, hundreds of fabulous reviews… The numbers were stacking up and I was one excited little Dish Piglet!
Friday night and The Ledbury is humming. Seated at our table, I took in the beautiful surrounds: huge windows looking out over Ledbury Road, crisp white table cloths, shiny cutlery and – the clincher for girls – a handbag hook to hang my bag. This place oozed class, with all minor details covered.
The service was exceptional. Friendly, knowledgeable, and not-at-all pretentious (as can often be the case with restaurants of this league). It’s a well oiled machine where waiters appear and disappear at exactly the right time.
There are two menu options – degustation or three courses. We chose three courses, which was more than enough considering the endless flow of amuse bouche which graced our table. In total we tallied up 11 dishes that arrived (12, if you include the soufflé eaten in the kitchen with the chefs at the end of the night… More on that later!).
First up, the bread. Ooooh, that bread. Warm, crusty, soft, brown – heaven. If that wasn’t enough, soon after we were offered mouth-wateringly delicious bacon and onion scrolls which were straight from the oven. I am a bread-lover from way back, but I’m convinced not even the strictest carb-free dieter could resist this bread!
A delicate amuse bouche of foie gras on an oat shortbread set the tone for the evening. Next was a taster of salmon and caviar served on a dollop of crème fraiche. Then, a beautifully runny quail egg wrapped in flaky kataifi pastry, coupled with an asparagus and baby leaf salad. These three tasters showcased the talents of the chefs – they were all delicate bites, interesting flavours, and brilliantly executed with incredible attention to detail. It set the bar high and we awaited our entrees with anticipation…
For my entree I chose Scottish roasted scallops with Jersey Royals. The thick, succulent scallops were cooked on a bed of seaweed which gave a lovely depth of flavour. As a devoted quail lover, Chappy chose the roast quail with peas, Iberian ham and mousserons. The quail was cooked in chicken broth for six minutes, then gently pan-fried, resulting in an incredibly tender piece of meat.
Choosing a main was a tough job. Eventually I settled on pork with nashi pear, celeriac, dried chicory and dandelion. Once again, blown away. Can The Ledbury do anything wrong? I don’t think so… The pork was divine and the crackling, well it was cracking! As a lover of the pork and apple combo, it was a refreshing twist to couple the pork with pear. The flavours complement each other perfectly – possibly even better than apple. Must try pear sauce next time I have pork sausages!
If I thought choosing a main was difficult, let’s just say that when it came to choosing a dessert I was completely stumped. I guess it must be the same as choosing between which of your children you like most… The lovely waiter recognised the stressful situation Chap and I were in (how can one choose between white chocolate, soufflé, brown sugar tart, chocolate pave, mille feuille, a daughter or a son…?!) and took our menus away declaring “I’ll choose for you”. Oooooh, boy did this get me excited.
While we waited for our ‘surprise’ desserts, another amuse bouche arrive. This time a smashed and ‘burnt’ meringue with tangy citrus sauce. When The Ledbury say ‘burnt’, it’s not the type of burnt charcoal toast I often throw in the bin… Here the term ‘burnt’ has an entirely different meaning. Rather, the meringue was slightly ‘brown’ and ‘caramelised’. The textures were amazing with gooey, chewy and crunchy bits throughout.
As we sat and played the ‘guess what dessert we’re getting’ game, three plates arrived. Three desserts… It was our lucky day! The brown sugar tart with grapes and ginger ice cream was sweet, velvety smooth and addictive. The chocolate pave was dark, incredibly rich and heart-stoppingly good. However, the dessert that stole the show was the passionfruit soufflé with ice-cream. This wasn’t just an average soufflé. It arrived with a small production – the waiter presenting us the soufflé, and then plunging a dessert spoon laden with ice-cream right into the middle of it. The soufflé was so light and airy, it melted in your mouth. And coupled with the ice-cream – the hot and cold combo took this dessert to the next level.
Completely full and thoroughly happy, we paid the bill. While munching on petit fours (delicious, of course), our lovely waiter came to us and asked “would you like a tour of the kitchen?”. WHAT? Could this experience get any better?! Coincidentally two of our great friends were also dining in the restaurant that night, and they were offered the exclusive kitchen tour as well. We excitedly bounded down the stairs into the kitchen. Brett Graham – head chef – immediately came and introduced himself. What a lovely guy. While chatting, a chef whipped us up another soufflé which we ate off the pass surrounded by the entire kitchen team. A memorable end to an amazing night.
My lack of photos can only be explained by the fact I was having too much fun. On my next visit, both me, and the camera, will be focused.
The Ledbury. My new favourite restaurant in London. Possibly the world. Simply incredible.
Our meal with wine came to £228.
Dish Piglets’ Rating: 10/10.
127 Ledbury Road, Notting Hill. London. W11 2AQ.
Tel: 020 7792 9090.