Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Ledbury (London) - ♕♕♕♕♕ 1/2

    Quite a late comer to the London Fine Dining scene, but under Chef Brett Graham’s guidance it took no time at all for The Ledbury to gain its 2nd Star in 2010, equaling its sister restaurant The Square’s best effort.   To seasoned  haute cuisine diners, this restaurant might not initially surprise you in terms of extraordinary food design and presentation – afterall, there are no Botanist-Chefs scattering about their micro herbs and foliage or moss line up, glamming it up with enough colour appeal to fool the eyes and the stomach into submission. Nor are there course after course of deconstructed then recompiled and sewn up food accompanied by molecular chemical by-products offered by chef Dr. Frankenstein!

Menu – Click to Enlarge
  The food style offered at The Ledbury is very unique, and probably the only one of its kind in the world and why I was too keen to dine out here.  At the same time it remains rustic and down-to-earth yet innovative and sensible, the chef has somehow managed to push the boundary to the extreme and beyond within restraints offered by traditional British/Australian cuisine..  Crafting and juxtaposing together local exotic ingredients which works together like a fitting glove, you wouldn’t even blink at first as it all seems so natural as a food pairing and seemingly had existed all along.  Studying the menu carefully enough however, you’ll discover nothing so ordinary at all with each of it’s meticulously planned and constructed dishes... It’s just that the chef must have been born with a sixth sense as to how he should combine his ingredients so seamlessly and effortless and fittingly together, which makes the customer not even bothering to question about its originality of composition.  The cooking itself is also very spot on executed, which means it has the duality of being both solid comfort food at the same time as being a stroke of genius!  Underestimate this restaurant at your own peril, but each and every course was competently designed and cooked, the only let down being the relatively less exploratory dessert courses – which is the only explanation preventing me from awarding this a perfect mark, or a true Culinary Feat.

Speyside Glenlivet Still Mineral Water, Scotland -
The pure water used for making the famous Scottish Whisky.. Only the best will do.

Foie Gras Tart with Red Almond and Ginger Bread Crumb -

Lovely starter, no oddly combo'ed flavourings here  ~ 10/10

Bacon & Onion Brioche -
Great warm bread, encore..

Walnut Bread -
Very British bread, incorporated with raisins and a sweetish taste underneath…

Butter is the hand-crafted type, very spreadable like a butter cream..

2008 Dolcetto d’Alba DOC, Roagna -

Fried Katafi Pastry wrapped Quail Egg with Marmalade & Chestnut Cream -
Another excellent appetiser, this was just perfect for Winter  ~ 9/10

Raviolo of Grouse and Partridge with Cepes, Elderberries and Brown Bread Sauce -
Kill 2 birds with 1 raviolo?  This was quite an earthly dish, another good treat. The heaviness from the brown bread sauce, creamy foam and the gamey birds were well balanced by the side add-on of elderberries sour/sweetness ~ 9/10

Truffle Toast and a Broth of Grilled Onions,
Hamphire Buffalo Milk Curd with Saint-Nectaire -

Beautiful presentation in hay and appropriate for what it’s aiming for,
smells as good as it tastes ~ 9/10

The buffalo milk-curd could have been stronger,
to really bring out the best of this flavouring scheme..

Fresh Prawns, Vandouvan Spice and Yoghurt, Broccoli and Crisp-
If I am heading the kitchen, I wouldn’t have taken gambles giving out this ‘surprise’ dish to a customer whom they knew had arrived from Hong Kong. For 1 thing, this dish’s flavour was completely out of whack with the Dolcetto wine and the rest of the courses ordered and besides, I’d prefer these to have tails and heads attached on. But considered in isolation, this is Britain and not only is it reputed for their curries, but the interpretation of this famous French-Indian recipe was executed quite well, bar the sloppy and random presentation which was odd ~7/10

Shoulder of Pyrenean Milk Fed Lamb with Jerusalem and Chinese Artichokes,
Winter Savoury Milk and New Season Olive Oil -

There are actually other main dishes I was keener to try, such as their signature Loin of Roe Deer baked in Douglas Fir.  But my dining companion was unfortunately stuck at work and dining just by myself that night, I could only pick one and the Pyrenean milk fed lamb was tempting as I did not try any, despite staying in that region for a few days.  WOW – this was cooked very well indeed, in a traditional type of way, yet reinvented with a modern twist. Lamb Skin was crispy, meat was tender and balanced in gamey-ness. Jerusalem Artichokes puree balanced the richness with its slight gingery & root vegetables flavour, the Crosnes gave it texture, a splash of winter savoury milk giving smoothness to align with the milk fed lamb, and olive oil was very Pyrenees. This might look simple on paper, but rethink again to consider how all of these ingredients were binded so well together. This is the result of an expertly crafted dish.   It is exactly the type of food I ardently crave for. Down-to-earth, but never boring. Amazing ~ 10/10

A new potato slightly spiced, giving this dish an extra dimension.
Who cares about the foliage and colours and sodium alginate ravioli…!

The Chinese artichokes are basically worm-like Crosnes,
which I’ve had a few times before, including @ Pierre HK and elsewhere . 
This dish overall is more French than British I guess..

Clos Thou Jurancon -

This is probably one of my favourite sweet ‘white’ wines in the world. I used to drink a lot of this, as its less syrupy than a Sauterne/Balzac, more interesting than a Beaumes-de-Venise or a noble riesling or ice wine, etc. Not to be confused with wines from Jura, I was surprised the sommelier suggested this to me, they must have been able to read my mind that night!

Olive Oil Panna Cotta with Figs, Verjus Granita, Roast Apple Ice Cream
and Citrus Beignets -

This dessert tasted awesome, and the combinations of flavours was again exemplary, I could eat this everyday!  The presentation of this in le verrine style was very unexpected however.  This desserts components could have stand up on its own and be plated even more beautifully in my humble opinion.  It’s sometimes hard to rate such a dessert.  You know a lot of effort has gone into its recipe, but you can feel there’s more potential to be squeezed out of it.  But increasing its complexity of its plating design will also deviate from what it is trying to achieve in this restaurant with its more approachable food.  So am I shooting at my own foot here?  Taste-wise ~ 8.5/10

Eucalyptus Honey and Spiced Bread Souffle,
Dunked on top with Thyme Ice Cream -

Sometimes I do wonder if any place in Hong Kong apart from Pierre makes a proper souffle.  They should be airy and moist, ‘light as a wind’ and a professionally baked souffle would never collapse too quickly as soon as its brought out of the oven and then the steam providing its rise, runs off into the atmosphere…  a question worth pondering on indeed, as most souffles served in HK dessert houses are just so wrong in texture, it’s not even remotely funny!  I don’t actually expect anyone to understand what I am babbling on, as we are brought up thinking Tai Ping Goon’s version to be a souffle. But that to me, is a CAKE! 

This souffle was done exceptionally well, the egg whites climbing up the ramekin beautifully with a flat fluffy top, rather than like a disruptive volcano eruption or a pimple on the forehead.  I am having a self chuckle right now thinking of the shits being handed out from HK dessert houses, that they even dared to call it a souffle ! titter  You might be able to get an approximate pizza here, an approximate rum baba, approximate espresso or approximate fried tonkatsu.  But there is not even anything close to an approximated souffle in town, and now that’s really a tragedy ! ~  10/10

Single Espresso - 

Union Coffee AGAIN!  The staff at The Ledbury are really friendly, it’s like none of those past snobbish experiences in London which requires you to wear a jacket in the midst of summer!  They jokingly said that if my coffee wasn’t upto standard, they wouldn’t charge me.  Unfortunately,  when this arrived, in the mouth this was quite flat and if you look at the thinnish crema vs largish volume, it’s quite over-extracted on volume even by French standards. And yep, they did not charge me in the end either!!  Now that’s what I call Michelin Star Worthy Service.  That’s why I‘d paid 20% tips in the end, because they listen to criticism!

Petits Fours of - White Chocolate Almond Ball, Earl grey Macaron,
Mandarin Pate, Dark Chocolate with Eucalyptus, Violet Marshmallow - 

Lovely rather than exceptional, served on top of a pile of cocoa husk
(rather than cocoa nibs),  which are also edible   ~ 7/10

This place, seriously, is one of the most exclusive and niched Haute Cuisine restaurants which really stands out from the rest of the crowd and truly representative of what real food is really ought to be like – definitely one of the best restaurants I’ve ever visited in this world, but it still has some minor niggles and carries further room for improvement, especially in terms of plating and desserts..  But I would return here any day, any time.  There might be much prettier plates out there being dished out, but the taste of the food here was unbeatable, even compared to some other 2-3 Michelin Star restaurants within Europe I’d tried during this trip.

Price: £88 to £120 Per Person including VATScore: ★★★★★☆
Address: 127 Ledbury Road, Notting Hill, London W11 2AQ

Ph: +44 ( 0 ) 2077929090


  1. I am laughing my ass off reading your souffle remarks. Ahem! In this case, I believe I haven't ever had a proper souffle before :D

    Now you need to have proper Indomie goreng. with fried egg, fried corned beef and shaved "cheese"! :D

    Re: Indomie + siumai, I think most street snack shops in HKG serve them? The one in my blog is from a random shop in Kwai Fong

  2. I keep meaning to check whether you have had any 6 star meals...

    Definitely my restaurant meal of last year. Not my best food. That is my first bowl of humble wonton noodles.

  3. @Mocha Rita: Fried corned beef and shaved cheese, and another fried egg for a goreng - that sounds like exactly how I want it now ! Is Indonesian food in HK really that bad? or there're some good hidden ones around? : ) I used to polish of a lot of those instant package ones during uni days !

    @Tomeats: Its funny you mention that, whenever I come back to HK from Aust, I was really looking forward to a good wonton/sui gau noodles and a combo of roast, whatever the other thing is but it must have char siu in it ! Yes loved this place a lot. 6 Star restaurant? This one was close enough. I'll see when I get up to the other reviews haha!

  4. Hi K,

    You know I have the EXACT same feeling about souffle in HK!!! When I read your post, I was like "finally someone knows what I am talking about!" People do not understand what a proper souffle is like. It should have all the elements you mentioned, and the side should stay almost perpenticular to the the ramekin, not exploded sideway or uneven width or height around the rims. There should be a big chart tellling people what a proper souffle is! Seriously!

    Little Meg

  5. Dear Little Meg,

    I am sure you knew about it too all along! But try to tell anyone or even the so called dessert chef what it really OUGHT to be like, but they'll just be clueless!

    If they have never had a proper one before and were brought up eating the localized version, there is no way they can imagine how 'different' it is ! In fact, even simple things down to a Creme Brulee aren't done right in HK.

    Walk into any Paris restaurant and their version beats here hands down - FYI I am not a big fan of Paul Lafayet's version either.



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...