Food at The Ledbury, as has been well documented, relies on classic combinations and natural affinities, such that that one of our two beef dishes today is fillet of Belted Galloway with truffle purée and roast parsnips, certainly a combination that is hard not to like. But where the kitchen comes in to its own is the focus on the produce: Brett explains that fillet of beef is rarely on the menu at The Ledbury and that he only uses the thick cut Chateaubriand from Belted Galloway with no interest in the rest of the fillet or other cattle breeds (for this particular cut). But with our second beef dish, short ribs, it's the Devon Ruby Red from Philip Warren a supplier and a breed that we've always been impressed by in the past, and a butcher with whom Brett has enjoyed a long and deep relationship, ensuring the very best of the best goes Brett's way. Again, here, Brett swears that there's nothing else out there that's as good: tasting the dish, we believe him.
But December means game season and there's plenty on the menu. Brett is a fully qualified deer stalker (DSC2) and knowing the difference between a fallow deer, the small roe deer and the larger red deer means that at The Ledbury, venison is not just venison. What's more, and we are in agreement with this, Brett does not follow the traditional path of excessively hanging and ageing game, believing that fresh game already has enough flavour while ageing can even lead to deterioration of the meat. Today there's a roasted woodcock on the menu, complete as it should be with the brains served from the split head, which are quite creamy and of course modest in portion, so eating them is no problem at all. But there's also a Boudin of Wood Pigeon and Partridge, which is oh so good, not only amazing flavours in the Boudin but in the textures there too. It only gets better with the natural pairings of chestnut soup and a veloute of white truffle. Again, what you get is never designed to shock you, but something for you to love, and we do, as it seems do others given how many awards the restaurant continues to garner.
Finally, nothing is ever static at The Ledbury, a fact that we also applaud. The beef would be coming off the menu in a couple of days, teal would be going on. This is a kitchen that takes the best of ingredients available on any given day and makes the best of dishes with them. Eat a week from now, and you'll undoubtedly enjoy different dishes, but the quality is of course unflinching. And then, equally unassailable, is the service with Stephen Quinn's front of house team always striking the right balance between professionalism and informality making the The Ledbury a most enjoyable place to eat in.
Simply put, The Ledbury is our favourite restaurant in London.
Disclosure: we won this meal at a charity auction