Sunday 24 January 2010

The Ledbury

After having visited The Taste of London last summer, The Ledbury catapulted to the top of my wish list. A strawberry and hibiscus bellini blew us away, and the inventive ash-baked celeriac left us seriously impressed.

The Michelin Guide results were posted last week, and The Ledbury was hotly tipped to receive their second star. They succeeded, and I was glad that we booked a table for lunch the previous week. At £27.50 for three courses from a set menu, it would be silly not to.

The room is high ceilinged and decorated in brown and cream. I was greeted warmly and I took my seat. An amuse bouche of confit salmon, seaweed butter and salmon roe was served warm; the salmon was obviously of high quality with none of the fattiness you can sometimes get. An excellent start to the meal. A warm bacon-studded, light-as-a-feather brioche whetted our appetites.

As always, I was watching the budget and so decided to go with the set lunch menu, while my companion went for the a la carte. On ordering, our server asked me if I liked celeriac, which my friend had ordered. He told us he'd organise smaller plates, so we could try a bit of all of it. Firstly, this ceviche of scallop with kohlrabi discs, seaweed oil and frozen horseradish snow, from the set menu, came out. I had wondered if the horseradish would overshadow the delicate sweetness of the scallop, but happily it didn't. The fish was silky, the seaweed oil heightened the flavour of the sea, and the horseradish snow melted creamily and luxuriously into the the dish. I tried my best to eat it slowly to savour the flavours and it was hard not to lick the plate.

Next, we were presented with the celeriac baked in a salt crust. It looked like a big pastry and carved at the table, it revealed a steaming, ash-stained round of celeriac. Just as I was about to grab the piece and pop it in my mouth, it was taken back to the kitchen for plating. That could have been embarrassing.

The wild boar kromeski was as good as I rememebered from last summer; paired with the celeriac it tasted vaguely Chinese to me. There was a hint of 5 spice, and reminded me of a beef and mooli stew I sometimes make. The dish smelled tantalisingly of truffle and hazelnut.

A whole roast tail of monkfish was served on the bone. Delivered at midnight from Cornwall, it was as fresh as possible. Squid tentacles were crisp and crunchy, and seaweed made another appearance in a mound of inky puree. The dish looked large but I made light work of it - the fish flaked beautifully off the bone, though I thought the solitary cauliflower floret was superfluous.

Our plates were cleared, and this cheeseboard was wheeled to our table and left with us for a few minutes, to "see if we can tempt you". Well, it worked. The cheeses were well kept, and a warm raisin brioche were apt vehicles.

Vanilla crème brulée was fruity and light - it was almost like a panacotta. The sugar crust was crisp and the hibiscus and rhubarb was well balanced with tartness and acidity. Just as we were about to get stuck in, we were given another dessert - a lemon and date tart with vanilla ice cream, as it's the head chef Brett Graham's speciality.

I thought it was pretty good, but as soon as I tasted the lemon tart, the crème brulée fell by the wayside. Buttery pastry encased a glossy, wibbly-wobbly lemon custard filling, the date paste running along the bottom of the custard sweetening it up nicely. I didn't think we could finish three desserts between us, but we managed just fine.

We finished our 3 hour lunch with big grins plastered across our faces and vowing to come back for a blow-out dinner. We felt really well looked after; the service throughout the meal was exemplary, being just the right side of informal. Some places can make you feel like a second class citizen with choosing the cheaper set lunch deal but this was certainly not the case here, as we were generously given both starters chosen without any extra charge. What I thought would be a 3 course lunch turned into 5 courses, 6 if you count the amuse.

I liked that I could hear our main server softly humming himself a happy tune every time he walked past and there was no stuffiness in the room. The sommelier, having been given a budget of £30 picked a wine that was one of the cheapest on the list but also matched our food well. He was quite charming, and insisted I try it, unlike some places that ignore the lady entirely. I'm starting to gush a bit now so I'll leave you with this - go, go go.

The Ledbury

127 Ledbury Road,
Notting Hill,
London W11 2AQ

Tel: +44 (0) 20 7792 9090

The Ledbury on Urbanspoon


Wildernesschic said...

Looks fabulous .. god I am hungry now, homemade pizza not as tempting after this

Chris Pople said...

Bloody hell those cheeses were good. I agree they had a tendency to get carried away adding extra superfluous bits to the main course, but it all tasted great. Solid 2* cooking.

Kavey said...

I definitely want to go, go, go! The Ledbury is on my shortlist for our current "posh lunch a week" thing. This week we went to Launceston Place. I might have to make The L the next one!

Thanks for the review!

S said...

each and every single dish looks and sound exquisite, you have described the dishes so beautifully, Lizzie, as you always do. such lovely writing. x shayma

David Strange said...

For a £27.50 set menu some of the stuff you ate looked like seriously sophisticated food porn. Not that I read porn, but when I see food like this it speaks to me on a deeply somatic, visceral level. I groaned and sighed with pleasure as I looked at your pictures and read the article. It looks and sounds like it is a damned-good restaurant, I will go there.

Many thanks for the excellent review.

Krista said...

Makes me want to go back...have already come up with an excuse to do so!

Unknown said...

That monkfish looks amazing. Sounds like a great restaurant worth the trek from far reaches of East London!

Jules said...

Amazing looking food for the price. I especially like the look of the brulee.

Sharmila said...

Oh man, that looks great. I've wanted to go here for years! It must be the West London location that has meant I haven't ended up going yet. I am definitely making a reservation for the boyfriend's birthday.

ginandcrumpets said...

Nobody could resist that cheese trolley, nobody. It looks like a really fantastic lunch. Envious.

Unknown said...

Sounds like you enjoyed the Ledbury just as much as I did although I last went there over a year ago and given that I live around the corner I really should rectify that and pop in for what is really a bargain set price lunch. Your photos are great (the benefits of eating at lunch). PS any reason you have dropped me from your blog roll- worried I accidentally insulted you in a restaurant review or something?

Ollie said...

God it looks good. I remember the celeriac from ToL, too, when The Ledbury also rocketed to my most-wanted list. Soon, soon! Great review.

The Grubworm said...

This looks like seriously good food, particularly at the price. This has now jumped straight on to the "must eat at" list.

I like the way they use the seaweed and that lemon tart looked seriously good - great pairing with the dates too. MMM. Just eaten lunch and my mouth's watering again...

The Ample Cook said...

What a superb meal - and that cheese board! Great value for the set lunch.

Lovely review and excellent photos.

An American in London said...

That's great news (that the Ledbury finally has its second star). They deserve the attendant publicity and rise in reservation numbers, though too bad for the rest of us, who have long loved the Ledbury.

Thanks for such a wonderful write-up, and I agree that the service there is both highly professional and still friendly.

Lunch sounds like it was pretty amazing value. Had did you find time for a 3-hour lunch during the work week?

gastrogeek said...

Great review, you captured it so well - I want to go back! That lemon tart eluded me - it looks particularly phwoarsome.

Wild Boar said...

Sounds/looks good. This is definitely on my list of places-to-eat.

Is it sad that I thought the bacon studded brioche sounded the most appealing though?

Kitchen Butterfly said...

Superb servings and michelin star at that. Love Celeriac so this would have been right on my merry street....maybe when next I'm in London!

Helen said...

It look like everything I ever dreamed it would be plus a little bit more! That tart looks splendiferous and that monkfish dish is such a picture. It looks incredibly summery with those lovely tentacles spread around.

Hollow Legs said...

Wilderness - I know. All meals now pale in comparison...

Chris - Given it was my first 2* I will trust your judgement ;)

Kavey - I highly recommend it.

shayma - thanks. The dishes were indeed exquisite.

David - If food were porn, this would be x rated!

Krista - I am racking my brains for the justification of going back, too.

Sarah - It was a right ol' trek from south east, but well worth it.

Jules - The brulee was incredibly light and delicious. But that tart!

Sharmila - I'm glad to have given you the nudge, you'll love it.

Gin & Crump - they could see the cheese lust in my eyes from the off.

GC - thanks. It was a well lit restaurant. Totally didn't mean to delete you, don't know what happened there!

Ollie - thanks! It's near you - go, go.

Grubworm - they did some incredible things with seaweed.

Ample cook - really amazing value. So very good.

AAIL - Oh if only I could have such a work lunch... no, the set menu is available on Saturdays too.

Gastrogeek - you'll just have to go back to try it!

Wild Boar - not really. Bacon-studded anything gets my vote.

Kitchen Star - the celeriac was great. Definitely well deserved of it's second star.

Helen - it was quite a summery dish. As soon as we can, we. are. going.

Browners said...

X rated food porn indeed. Sounds like a very memorable lunch. And a complete bargain too.

Douglas Blyde said...

I'm delighted you made it. Can't wait to go back.

Greedy Diva said...

God, I love the Ledbury. Every dish you had looks scrumptious. Don't get me started on the cheese board.

Ben said...

I was there on Sunday for my second visit. Even at £40 for weekend lunch, still a bargain. Streets ahead of other starred establishments I've been to. I'll be back again. Brett Graham and his team are stars, and the front of house team are simply excellent.

Graphic Foodie said...

This is on my "list". The baked celeriac looks like a must!

Alexis said...

Gonna eat there soon. Hope its gonna be as good as your pictures promise! regards, Alex

Unknown said...

Hello! Came across your wine blog on Open Wine Consortium! I write a wine blog on blogspot too, Vinously Speaking! Anywho, I will be in London for the big wine fair in May! Perhaps we can meet up at your favorite wine bar! I don't know anyone in London. I am from Texas and getting my Masters in Wine Business at the Burgundy School of Business at the ESC Dijon and we are going to the wine fair with our program. I am trying to do some scoping out of the London wine scene. I a very happy to have come across your blog! I look forward to keeping up with it! I also love to cook so it is great to see both cooking and wine talk on your blog!