Only our meals at Hibiscus and Le Champignon Sauvage (Cheltenham) compare, and that hierarchy includes three star luminaries like Gordon Ramsay and Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester. If only we lived a little closer to W11, we might permanently take up residence here.
Following a lovely bite size gingernut biscuit with foie gras parfait, diced liver and chives, we have an amuse bouche of cured salmon on citrus creme fraiche, with 'water cress caviar' and brown bread crumbs. Cleaning and clearing the palate for the meal ahead, like all the food we would eat today, it feels fresh, original and a touch playful, with colour for the eye, and texture and taste for the mouth.
The first menu course is a Ceviche of scallops with seaweed and herb oil, kohlrabi and frozen horseradish. Flying saucer like on the plate, a dark ring of seaweed and oil enclose the ceviche of scallops and a command centre dome of frozen horseradish. The frozen horseradish simultaneously cools and warms but it is the beautifully marinated scallops that are the stars of the dish, delicacy preserved with full flavour harnessed for you to savour.
This is followed by flame grilled mackerel with cucumber, Celtic mustard and Shiso. This was perhaps the best mackerel we've ever had. We'd enjoyed a good mackerel dish at Le Manoir (click here to see) but here, the skin was crisper, the flesh richer in clean flavours and the accompanying artichoke puree, mustard and Shiso dressing further enhancing the fish. There's also a cucumber jelly parcel with a mackerel tartare and pickled cucumber. We're again delighted.
Progressing to deeper flavours, we have a Buffalo milk curd (the early stage of cheese) topped with a grilled onion consomme served with mushrooms in Madeira, with a side plate (rather wood and pine plate) of Saint-Nectaire and truffle toast with truffle mayonnaise. Everything here is brilliant, the truffle toast drenched in deep truffle flavours yet without losing balance and the onion consomme likewise. It's that ability to bring out the essential ingredient flavours and then harmonise the whole dish that is characteristic throughout the meal and makes it all so enjoyable.
Each dessert was a beautiful example of its kind, balancing out sweet notes with other aspects. Indeed, the absolute star here is the brown sugar tart which sounds potentially very sweet indeed with the ominous 'sugar' word in the title but is so light, delicate and balanced that it rivals the best of desserts we've enjoyed over the past year including the Cep Tart at Hibiscus and the Custard Tart by Marcus Wareing (the one on Great British Menu). So light, so balanced, so utterly surprising, we relished it; indeed, we relished them all. Petits fours in an old fashioned tin box finish the meal
It was also interesting to note that Brett Graham was not in the kitchen today. While it would have been nice if he were, it really didn't matter because his team did a brilliant job in his absence, so you'd never know. Brett deserves praise for bringing on a team that can deliver that output in his absence but his team deserve even more praise for actually doing it today. Front of house equally deserve applause for a friendly, flawless service. Brett should feel very proud on the whole operation and every member of his staff.
Even at other brilliant two star venues like sister restaurant The Square, there are weaker dishes in the tasting line up, but here there were none, they got each and every dish right. Whether it's presentation, seasoning, depth of individual flavours, the combination of flavours, originality or really anything else you care to name, The Ledbury consistently, and without exception, delivered. Grading, rating and league tables are difficult, more often than not meaningless and something we try to avoid, but our meal at The Ledbury today might just be the best meal we've had in London... ever.
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Le Champignon Sauvage
Pied a Terre
Restaurant Gordon Ramsay