Sunday, May 19, 2013

The Ledbury

When I travel, not only do I want to see the sights, I also want to try the cuisine.  I want to dine at the restaurants of note and try the cuisine for which the area I am visiting is known.  I visited London recently and had the opportunity to dine at The Ledbury, a restaurant located in the Notting Hill neighborhood that was rated the 13th best restaurant in the world by San Pellegrino and Restaurant Magazine.  Notting Hill is a bit off the beaten path for many London visitors but as the place I was staying was a little off the beaten path as well, it would have been a pretty easy walk if the streets of London were well marked.  I left early which was a good thing because it took the extra time to actually find the place.  In any case, I made it there and was immediately seated by a very friendly host.  The dining room was a large square with high ceilings and hanging lights.  The bar was in the corner near the entrance with a backlit wine rack there were several square pillars in the room that broke up the open space but it still felt very open and the space was very well lit.  The menu is either divided into a three course prix fixe, of which you have several choices for each course, or you can go for the Tasting Menu which lists 10 items.  As I knew that I would not be visiting again soon and i wanted to get the greatest experience that I could, I went with the Tasting Menu.  On the menu, the first item was listed as an Amuse Bouche.  It was actually two amuse bouches.  The first was a Squid Ink Crisp with Whipped Scallop, Caviar, and Apple Caviar.  It was served on a round, flat stone serving plate.  The rest of the meal was also served on stone plates.  The crisp was crisp, briny, and very flavorful with both tart and seafood flavors.  While it did get me excited for the rest of the meal the next item which I actually forgot to take a picture of was even better.  It was a Chestnut Biscuit (cracker) with Foie Gras and Blood Orange.  The flavor was not subtle.  It was sweet and tart from the blood orange, with the richness of the foie gras and the nuttiness of the chestnut.  The amuses did their job and got me excited for the rest of the meal.

For my first course, I had what they called a Cold Courgette Soup With Tomato and Creme Fraiche and garnished with Caviar, I had no idea what a courgette was but I gathered that it was a vegetable because the soup was very green.  It had a very fresh and vegetable flavor and it was pretty rich.  It was good even if I didn't know exactly what it was.  I found later that courgette is also known as zucchini which I know and love very well even if I have never had zucchini soup.

The next dish was a Ceviche of Hand Dived Scallops with Kohlrabi, Seaweed Oil, and Frozen Horseradish.  I would never think of a frozen ceviche and this wasn't completely frozen but it did have a frozen element that provided some extra texture and toned down the burn of the horseradish.  The scallop was very tender, the horseradish did provide some burn, but the ice toned down the burn and it was very good.

The next step in the progression went to fish.  It was a Grilled Mackerel with Pickled Vegetables, Celtic Mustard, and Shiso.  What I remember about this was that the fish was very mild and the vegetable flavors came to the forefront.  I was having the wine pairing with the meal and I remember discussing with the sommelier that I thought that the wine paired better with the vegetables than the fish.

The next dish was actually my favorite.  It was another fish dish.  It was a Grilled Sea Bass with Broccoli, Crab, and Black Quinoa.  The broccoli was very crisp and fresh and the fish was tender and salty.  The quinoa coated the top of the bass and was like a toothsome pasta.  The crab sort of garnished the dish and while it added to the flavor it was subtle.

The next dish was could potentially have been a dish that I didn't care for but it, like everything else was very good.  It consisted of Roast Quail, Cepes (mushrooms), Pears, and Walnuts.  I generally don't care for pears because I find the texture too gritty but they were cooked well and while I could taste the pear, it wasn't terrible.  It did pair well with the quail and the mushrooms and walnuts made for a great dish.

The next course was a pre-dessert cheese course.  I was served 5 different cheeses that went from soft to hard and included a nice blue as well as bread and jams.  I was actually surprised at the size of the course and wondered if I was going to be able to finish my meal.

For the next pre-dessert, I was served a Mango Granita with Meringue and Jellies.  It was tart, cold, sweet, and the meringue melted in my mouth.  It was very good and disappeared very quickly.

For the dessert, I was served a Brown Sugar Tart, with Poached Grapes, and Stem Ginger Ice Cream.  This was very flavorful and every element brought a lot of flavor to it.  It was sweet, spicy, and sharp, and a very enjoyable end to the meal.  If I could have gotten away with licking the plate, I would have.

For the finish, I was brought a small bowl of petit fors with a Strawberry Gelee, a Chocolate Truffle, and a Meringue with Butterscotch.  They were very light, sweet, and left a smile on my face.

The Ledbury was the best restaurant I have ever been to bar none.  The place looked very nice, the service was very friendly and prompt, the flow of the dinner was very smooth, and the food was very, very good.  It was very expensive but it was not the most expensive restaurant that I have ever been to and it was very worth  it.  Given the opportunity, I would easily make the decision to return.

No comments:

Post a Comment