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The Ledbury**, London [Restaurant Review]

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Reviewed by The Wild Boar

Even before being awarded the second star this year, The Ledbury has been a restaurant garnering many a compliment. I’ve had the pleasure of eating in its sister restaurant The Square** and had a great dinner there, so my expectations were high to say the least.

Lured by the great set lunch deal of £27.50 for three courses, we were the first to arrive at noon into a large airy room. It was one of those rare occasions in London when the sun deigned to come out to play, so we were delighted to be placed next to one of the many large windows.

The Ledbury, London 01

We started off lunch with an excellent amuse-bouche of beetroot meringue with foie gras mousse (I forgot what the sprinkles on top were, but I do remember making a mess of the table with it). It tastes even better than it looks, with the beetroot flavour coming out of the light airy meringue and marrying the deep rich foie gras flavour extremely well.

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Three different types of bread were on offer. We managed to sample all, but our favourite was always going to be the bacon and onion brioche. Whilst not as memorable as the fougasse at ADAD, the sweet-ish nature of the brioche was off-set quite well with the bacon flavour, although I did find the bacon used here was not only fatty but slightly chewier than it should be.

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The other two breads were sourdough and walnut. From what I understand, all the bread was made on site as well.

Slight explanation here, the PigPig chose from the set lunch menu, while I chose from the ala carte lunch menu, mainly because we wanted to try more options.

Ceviche of Hand Dived Scallops with Seaweed and Herb Oil, Kohlrabi and Frozen Horseradish”. Luckily for me, this bore no real resemblance to more traditional lemon-drenched ceviches. Instead, the juicy little slivers of scallop were swimming in a pool of aromatic herb oil. The truly interesting part was the frozen horseradish which was in a similar manner to shaved ice, which gradually released more flavour as they melted into the dish. I’m not entirely convinced that the horseradish (mild though it was) complimented the scallop’s flavour, but this is an interesting twist.

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Raviolo of Potato and Egg Yolk with Bianchetti Truffle, Onions cooked in White Beer and Grated Vacherin”. Continuing with our recent love affair with eggs for starters, this complex looking little dish smelled incredible with both the truffles and cheese aroma wafting from the plate. The mashed potato encased within the skin provided the body to taste the various sauces while the beer onions added another subtle flavour aspect to enjoy.

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The Ledbury, London 06

Best End of Lamb with Crushed and Smoked Artichokes, Green Tomato Juice and Garlic”. Looking far more complex than the name suggested, the pink slices of saddle of lamb were perfectly enjoyable on its own but we both thought the artichokes complimented it well and made it more fun. Both the roasted shoulder (7 o’clock in the picture) and the kromeski (2 o’clock) were good and tasty and provided an alternative type of cut to sample. However, the green tomato juice was more decorative than anything else and I didn’t feel it added anything substantial to the dish.

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Loin of Sika Deer Baked in Hay with Root Vegetables, Chocolate Malt
and Homemade Sauerkraut” I feel slightly guilty in retrospect after eating such a cute deer

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Anyway when ordering I was slightly apprehensive it might be a bit too gamey or tough, but the waitress reassured me it wouldn’t be. She proved to be correct as it was delightfully tender and juicy while exuding a flavourful but not overpowering gameyness. Hidden underneath the red meat was the sauerkraut which I thought lacked sufficient zing, yet the pickled mushrooms provided enough sourness for the dish. I didn’t particularly enjoy the chocolate malt (out of focus on the far side), but I never have enjoyed chocolate mixed with meats; the PigPig quite liked the mild chocolateyness though.

Chocolate Pave with Walnut and Pepper Ice Cream”. Essentially a very dark rich chocolate mousse, this was a dessert for adults as it was quite light on the sweetness but had a very strong dark chocolate flavour. It would have been very difficult to eat this actually without an ice cream on the side; luckily the pepper just added a subtle aftertaste and didn’t overpower it. The walnuts meanwhile added crunchy textures.

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We were extremely full so we only shared one dessert between us two but we did manage to sample all the petit fours on offer with our cups of filtered coffee. They were pretty good on average, except for the macarons but then we did have the pleasure of sample Pierre Herme recently.

The Ledbury, London 10

Altogether, the bill for a 3 course set lunch menu and 2 courses from the ala carte as well as a bottle of still water and two cups of coffee came up to just under £90 for two. Service throughout was warm friendly and generally attentive without intrusive throughout. The atmosphere was actually quite lively and there were more younger diners than normally found in two starred restaurants (only one table occupied with grey hairs).

Food – 8.0
Service – 6.0
Atmosphere – 6.0
Value – 5.0

Overall the food was quite tasty, expertly cooked and had several unique touches to differentiate it from the average dish. However I think that there were some minor niggles around. Their complex main dishes are a bit of a double edged sword; it makes things more interesting but it also detracts a little from enjoying the meat purely.

Best bit: probably the amuse-bouche.
Worst bit: nothing truly awful stands out really.

PS. Just want to mention about the single diner beside our table who spent his entire meal chatting to the waitresses and eating a total of 3 starters, 1 main and 3 desserts. I was quite full just eating my starter and main but he single handedly polished off more than twice the amount I ate. The PigPig thinks he was a chef and from the conversation I picked up he is a frequent visitor to Ledbury.

The Ledbury**
Notting Hill
127 Ledbury Road
Notting Hill, W11 2AQ
Tel: +44(020) 7792 9090
Official website

The Ledbury on Urbanspoon

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