Seeing as we’ve already addressed what I ate to celebrate my birthday, it’s only fair we get a look-in on The Blonde’s a la carte.
I’d visited Notting Hill’s culinary institution, The Ledbury, just once - some ten years ago, shortly after it had opened, and I still remember it as being pretty much the most exciting meal of my life.
They served cockscomb as part of the starter- yep, that’d be the creepy red flesh you get on top of some birds’ heads! It was delicious. For pudding they had a lighter-than-air raspberry souffle. The sides of the ramekin had been painted with raspberry jam so that, as the batter rose, a red and white striped effect appeared on the lofty souffle’s sides. When they brought the steaming hot pud to the table, the waiter artfully plunged a spoon of mascarpone into the souffle, letting the creamy cheese sink into the cake’s depths and producing a deliciously rich sauce. I fell for this restaurant BAD!
So how would it fare a decade later? Answer: This is a restaurant at the top of its game and showing no signs of stopping- both food and service are the best on offer. Brett Graham’s cooking and his crew’s razor-sharp service combine to create that awesome effect of the restaurant ‘bubble’ - whereby you’re temporarily transported to a dream-like-state of relaxation, indulgence and satiation. Proof in the theatrical-pudding is that they recently attained the prestigious position of number 13 in this year’s World’s 50 Best Restaurants - a list that features slim-to-none representation from England, although Heston’s Dinner does make it in at Number 7.
Anyway, enough waffle, let’s take a look inside…
The Dining Room
The Menu: The Ledbury’s set lunch is something of a bargain at three courses for £35
Amusing the bouche: Turbot roe on seaweed crisp
All the best meals start with a dirty martini- particularly decadent when said cocktail arrives at your table (unbidden) with compliments from Yorkshire - Parents: gotta love ‘em!
We soaked up the rest of the meal with a Fiano di Avellino. The charming sommelier recommended this 2000-year old white grape variety as an historic and sturdy solution to the tackle array of dishes we were about to face. It performed like a dream.
Roast quail with creamed rye, wild garlic and grilled onions topped with delicate wild garlic flowers with a gimpy-cute quail brochette brochette on the side. I’m guessing the teeny bird had been cooked sous vide (Michelin’s answer to slow-and-low boil in the bag) and fried off at the end to achieve the awesome contrast of meltingly tender meat and crispy crunchy skin.
The Blonde’s ceviche of hand dived scallops with kohlrabi (so hot right now German turnip), seaweed oil and frozen English wasabi
Roast turbot fillet with peas, morels and smoked Eel milk
Berkshire Muntjac with Red leaves and vegetables, bone marrow and cherry blossom, served with a delicious juicy venison sausage. Back in the late nineties, My Dad experienced a few years of muntjac-induced meltdown when the pesky deer decimated our then-garden; if only he’d known how to sous-vide the little mothers, things could have been so different…
The Ledbury seriously know how to woo their customer - complimentary birthday millefeuille. Swoon.
Vanilla beignets - hot sugar-dusted bite-fulls of pure doughnut joy
Olive oil, thyme and honey cream with wild and Gariguette strawberries. As a thoughtful touch, the kitchen had separated our one pudding onto two plates - it’s these kind of details that highlight their double Michelin qualities.
Three pudding varieties down but still room for THAT cheeseboard.
Awesome presentation, watching the frommelier plate this up was pure poetry.
Can we handle petit fours on top of all that? You know it.
If you’re after a seriously special ‘occasion’ meal, this is the place - from the set lunch, to the a la carte and the Tasting Menu, there’s something for everyone from both a gastronomical and financial perspective. Ten years down the line, I’m still smitten. The blonde declared it ‘phenomenal’ - nuff said.
The look of love.
The Ledbury, 127 Ledbury Road, London W11 2AQ
The Square (Ledbury’s sister restaurant), 6-10 Bruton Street, London W1J 6PU