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|Address:||127 Ledbury Road, London W11 2AQ|
|Tel:||020 7792 9090|
|Price: £76.00||Wine: £30.00||Champagne: £50.00|
|Opening Hours:||Tues-Sun 12N-2pm (Sun -2.30pm) Mon-Sat 6.30-10.30pm Sun 7-10pm|
1 of 1 people found this review helpful.
I'm almost embarrassed to say that this was my third tasting menu in a Michelin two-starred restaurant in the last three months. I'm fair bursting with patriotic pride at the quality of our country's food. It's become clear, though, that at the very best British restaurants, certain things have become commonplace. My beef’s been bathed inside a plastic bag for half the week? I’m unfazed. The sous-chef scaled a cliff this morning to hand-pick those nettles on my plate? Unremarkable. The dish that looks like egg and chips is in fact made with cod and Rice Krispies? I’m stifling a yawn.
Of course I’m spoilt. The Ledbury was terrifically good. With certain dishes, their principal quality was staggering refinement: ceviche of scallops with apple jelly, seaweed puree and frozen horseradish was pure and delicate and wonderful. Roast seabass was gob-smackingly perfectly cooked. The blackcurrant tart had a firm egg custard that was the loveliest eggy thing I’ll ever eat. Other dishes stood out because – more than anywhere I’ve eaten before – the chef had created a compelling theme on the plate, with disparate ingredients brought together to make one marvellously rewarding dish. The quail with wet walnuts, fig, dandelion and truffle conveyed, unmistakably and utterly deliciously, ‘autumnal woodland floor’.
However I do have one criticism. Long ago I figured out that the principal weapon in the restaurant chef’s arsenal is loading as much butter, cream and salt as they can into their dishes. As an enthusiastic home cook, I consider it cheating. But can the pendulum swing too far the other way? Perhaps at times at The Ledbury it did. The clean flavours came at the expense of the blow-out factor you might look for in a big restaurant meal. There’s something wonderful about feeling satiated at the end of a great meal, and although I don’t want to feel like a duck being prepared for foie gras production, I’d certainly like a nudge in that direction. Only one or two dishes here had that quality, such as the buffalo curd with onion broth accompanied by slivered poilane toasts topped with cheese and truffle paste, or the short rib of beef with bone marrow. The rest – while brilliant – had a certain Protestant discipline and purity that I imagine you get in the fine restaurants of suicide capitals such as Copenhagen and Stockholm.
Beyond the food, it was good news all round. Staff were excellent; the sommelier was especially obliging, insisting on me trying wines before he served them, so that I might send them back if they weren’t to my taste (which I did when we couldn’t quite agree on a dessert wine, and the swift replacement was excellent). The room is bright and airy, and the level of buzz was good. However the Protestantism extended to the decor which, while classic, lacked anything in the way of verve. It was £105pp for the tasting menu, which for the meal and experience we had, was just right. I’ll be sure to return once I’ve become less spoilt again.