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had same menu sun before, apart from with a rather ho-hum venison dish instead of the lamb

agree easily * cooking, although the studied neo-classicism feels very much like the square-writ-small

rabbit lasagne interesting, particularly the use of a mousse for the filling (doesn't Square also use a mousse for its signature shellfish lasagne dish)

the crackly caramel on the foie gas was also unusual; the first time have seen this preparation although foie gras a touch overdone (endemic problem unless you have pretty thick slices).

sea bass and tuna were also likeable - the latter a surprise as cold seared tuna loin normally much of a muchness in London... or anywhere (one criticism of the tuna dish - the deep-friend crispy shallots on the top were a little overpowering).

Chef Brett clearly going places, though still think he needs to find his own voice - something Tom Aikens and Bjorn Whathisface at the Greenhouse have done very effectively over the last year or two

ta

J


More Cookbooks than Sense - my new Cookbook blog!

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Bjorn Whathisface

That's Bjorn van Whathisface if you don't mind.

Presumably to distinguish him from that bloke off of Abba, right :biggrin:

Actually looking up some stuff on the Greenhouse I noticed that Bjorn van Whathisface does the foie gras with a caramel brulee crust as well (no idea if the execution is anything like what Ledbury do)... so maybe its not that original after all...

J


Edited by Jon Tseng (log)

More Cookbooks than Sense - my new Cookbook blog!

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On the spur of the moment, called The Ledbury on Tuesday night and booked a table for 9.15pm. Ended up taking what transpired to be a great value tasting menu with Andy (Fenn). I hope that he is able to upload the pictures, since I am currently having trouble doing so.

We were soon treated to a tasty canapé, of an ultra-light wafer with foie gras parfait and ground cayenne pepper. Salty, crunchy, and appetising, I’m sure this would have been well-matched to a decent champagne had our budgets stretched that far.

Our amuse was miniature bowl of Jerusalem artichoke soup, in which sat a sphere of salt cod. The cod was hot, crisp, and well-seasoned, but actually drew attention away from the sweet, fragrant pale liquid. The soup itself was truffled, but with a lightness of touch that allured rather than overwhelmed.

Loin of Tuna wrapped in Basil with a Salad of Radish and Soy

Having experienced a number of oriental-inspired tuna amuses/starters recently (most notably at Pied a Terre and Le Gavroche), the fish here stood out amongst the competition. The tuna itself was clean and fresh and rested on a wafer-thin slice of pickled daikon, which provided a touch of citrus sweetness. Deep-fried shallots lifted the accompanying salad, which impressed Andy no end, as I’m sure he will confirm. A few streaks of oyster mayonnaise lent a background of minerality, and the streak of basil a sweet fragrance. A lip-smacking, cleansing dish.

Lasagne of Rabbit and Chanterelles with a Veloute of Thyme

This was my favourite dish of the evening, and it is easy to see why it has been on the menu from day one. We were later informed that this was to be it’s last night in its current form. I could have eaten this a million times over. The pasta was slippery and dense, and I sensed a light cheese flavour, though I may be wrong. Graham’s love of mushrooms is clear and there were some unadvertised cepes in the dish, in addition to a deep, rich mushroom puree. The accompanying veloute was light and frothy, with the subtlest sniff of thyme, a sprig of which topped the dish (which I ate). The rabbit was moist and gamey, and this adds up to an exceptional seasonal dish.

Seabass with Pumpkin Gnocchi, Pumpkin Puree, and Ginger

Andy will wax lyrical about this dish, since it was by far his favourite of the evening. I did suggest that was in part motivated by the slightly disappointing fish preparations he had during our lunch at Tom Aikens the Friday before, since the sea bass here was an essay in texture: chunky, moist flesh fused to a salty, crispy skin. Pumpkin gnocchi were sweet and bouncy, with a crisp edge, having been finished off in the pan. These were topped by a smattering of trompettes de la mort, which provided a nice nutty contrast to the sweet gnocchi. A smear of pumpkin puree was similarly sweet next to half a tiger prawn. Warmth and spice fizzed lightly across the plate in the form of a pumpkin foam touched with ginger. Another impressive dish.

Roast Foie Gras with Port Glazed Pear, Fig Puree, and Grue de Cocoa

This dish commands a £5 supplement on the a la carte, giving an indication of the value represented by the tasting menu. Overall, I think this is a dish that will polarise judgment. Whilst I thought that bitterness of the grue (the husk of the cocoa bean) prevented the potential sickliness of a foie gras preparation, Andy disagreed. In the least, the layer of grue had been caramelised so as to give a crisp edge to the soft foie, which I liked. Poached pear was a nice, sharp twist on the (infuriatingly common) fruit/foie combo. A light foam of cocoa also had a light touch of coffee flavour, which married well with the grue. There was a light sprinkling of (I think) five-spice to finish off the dish. The liver itself was melthingly soft: Andy and I saved the kitchen a job my mopping up the unctuous fat with good rye bread. Budget-conscious, the sommelier was more than happy to split a glass of sweet wine for us here.

Incidentally, it is worth noting at this point that whilst the service was largely fantastic, it lacked the telepathic quality of the best 2 and 3-star venues: a number of times we had to ask for bread, and even then it often took its time to arrive. Even so, this was a very minor flaw on what was otherwise wonderfully attentive treatment.

Assiette of Pyrnenean Milk-Fed Lamb with Creamed potatoes, Truffle, and Celery

3 treatments of lamb here: braised shoulder, rump, and a beignet, which also contained the braised shoulder meat. Andy quickly identified a smoky edge to the rump. Brett later informed us that this is a result of baking the lamb in hay for a short time. The rump was very pink and sweet, which bespoke youth: these were 2-month old animals. Unfortunately this delicate cut didn’t quite stand up to the truffled mash, which had a more natural truffle flavour thanks to the incorporation of truffle juice. The gamier, meatier shoulder cut fared much better in this regard, as did the crisp, salty beignet.

Thinking back, a second minor gripe – our lamb arrived almost immediately after they had cleared out foie gras, to the extent that we had not had time to order a glass of red to accompany this course.

Cheese

Having eyed the trolley on a trip to the bathroom, we decided to split a cheese course. Again, the staff were very accommodating, and allowed us a very generous portion of cheese, served with knowledge and interest. I struggle to remember the names, but we had a wonderfully soft Italian cheese (at 3 o’clock on the plate) which really stood out.

A pre-dessert of sauternes jelly with apricot and vanilla arrived before cheese, but we held off until afterwards. This was perfectly pleasant: subtly sweet, and lightly perfumed with vanilla.

Chocolate soufflé with honeycomb and banana

As this arrived at the table, the surface was pierced and a quenelle of banana ice cream dropped in, followed by a beautiful sauce of dark chocolate. The soufflé itself was fantastic – feather-light, it frothed and evaporated on the tongue. I am a huge fan of hot and cold dessert combinations, and loved the contrast of temperatures and textures here. This said, I did feel that the honeycomb was a texture too far: the coarse edges jarred a little in the soft, frothy surroundings. We both enjoyed this, but, having both been to Aubergine recently, couldn’t help but compare it to the phenomenal banana crumble variety there.

By this time it was close to 1am and we shared the room with only one other table. Andy and I went down to the kitchen, which is compact, to say the least. Brett Graham showed us the tiny lambs (£65 each) and the new morels for use in the updated lasagne. The youth and enthusiasm displayed by the front of house is clearly reflective of the chef himself, who chatted to us for a good 20 minutes about the atmosphere in the kitchen and the logic behind the tasting menu. Refreshingly, he asked us for our thoughts on the meal and listened intently to the few minor criticisms we had. It was a great way to end the evening.

Graham’s cooking is commendable given the number of covers the restaurant does. The menu bespeaks a passion for quality, seasonal native produce. This was also clear from talking to Brett, who continues to offer the lamb despite making a loss on the dish.

Two tasting menus with 4 glasses of wine and a split cheese course came to just over £150, which we agreed was a steal both for the level of cooking and the value of the experience. Future visits are guaranteed (see below).

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A second meal at The Ledbury this week, following Tuesday evening’s tasting menu. The team greeted us enthusiastically and led us to a table with a great view of the whole dining space. We started with a gin and tonic and took our time over the menu. I was assured that I could construct a new tasting menu, given my recent visit, but one of us was entertaining that evening and was keen to maintain an appetite. Canapes were the same as Tuesday.

The amuse of truffled artichoke soup with salt cod arrived. Unlike Tuesday evening, black truffle shavings appeared this time. This addition served only to accentuate the superfluity of the cod, which was over-seasoned this time and detracted from the sweet elegance of the soup.

On Tuesday night the lasagne of rabbit had been my favourite dish, and I was disappointed to learn from the chef that it was due to be replaced. I debated over the new lasagne or the terrine of veal cheek, but was persuaded by the prospect of the morels Andy and I had seen in the kitchen a few days earlier. The updated lasagne is with confit chicken, and arrived with two large morels, two pieces of caramelised chicken, and a foam of arbois and thyme. Lasagne mk. II is an improvement. Again, the pasta was sleek and light, with sufficient bite. There is a subtle pungency to the filling that suggests a cheese, but I have yet to confirm this. However, the new lasagne wins out thanks to the introduction of diverse textures. The accompanying chicken had its skin crisped, and the morels were fat, firm, and toothsome. I must admit that my judgement is in part motivated by my excitement over the new season’s morels, but I still expect the kitchen to shift a lot of lasagne.

Main course was a fillet and daube of beef with a croustillant of celeriac and cepes. Fillet was dense and nicely underdone, with deep scarlet interior. The smaller piece of daube was spectacular: dark, glossy, with the deep red colour of port. As I flaked into it with a fork (knife not required), the melting strands of fat revealed themselves before sinking back into the rich flesh. The daube sat atop a mound of spinach, which was tasty, if not remarkable. The croustillant revealed the chef’s love of seasonal ingredients, and particularly his judicious use of wild mushrooms, which appear heavily on the menu. As such, the filling was the sort of jazzed-up mash the dish required, with the light, crunchy casing providing a nice crispy contrast to the soft meat.

Having washed the sticky beef down with an equally sticky red, at this point my concentration erred slightly from dessert. The yuzu parfait I had was light and sunny, with excellent tuiles. My only frustration was that the kitchen kept us waiting some time for this, by which time I needed another glass of the excellent dessert wine.

Coffee and petits fours are nothing to write home about, thankfully, since they were accompanied by a glass of amaretto.

A second visit reveals the a la carte to be as distinguished as the tasting menu. My first two courses were largely faultless, and I reserve judgement of dessert for my next visit, which is on Friday (lucky, I know). It is worth noting that Brett was not in the kitchen (though he did come over and say hello when he dropped by), yet the quality remains exceptionally high.

Apologies of the lack of photographs, but this was a business lunch. Ditto lack of ballpark cost.


Edited by Rian (log)

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Time for the twice a year haute cuisine blowout, plus paying my brother back for some plumbing he did for me! Was supposed to be Champignon Sauvage, but a lack of organization on my part meant a London place was needed instead, so the Ledbury fit the bill very nicely indeed. The lunch menu didn't set the pulse racing, and the tasting is only a tenner more than the carte, so there was no helping ourselves and we settled in for a really very very long lunch indeed. Pretty much the same menu as people have had above, but here's my tuppence regardless...

Canape -

A cream of goat cheese and truffle on tuile. Good, much better truffles than I've been getting myself this season, although definitely some (very good) truffle oil in there as well.

Amuse -

A single seared scallop with a liquorice skewer running through it, on top of a mushroom duxelle with a white onion puree on the side. A quality scallop and cooked right, with nice caramalization on the outside, every so slightly gritty though. Both accompaniments were spot on.

Seared tuna with basil, radish salad -

One of the best dishes of the meal, super fish, only the first quarter inch showing any signs of cooking, wrapped in basil leaves with a basil oil dressing. Sitting on a incredibly thin 2 inch square piece of pickled daikon, with a lovely fresh salad on the other side, including some very interesting purple mint leaves. Everything working together here, quality ingredients showing themselves off to best advantage.

Chicken lasagne, morel, chicken wing, thyme veloute -

Not as sold on this one as Rian was. The morel was very good, although not as earthy as the ones I love the most. The chicken wing piece stunning, cooked soft then given a hard sear on the grill, perfectly crisping one side. The veloute a classic piece of modern foamy fluffiness, well done but to become a little ubiquitous in the meal as a whole. My problem was with the lasagne filling which was bound with a lot of egg and too omlettey as a result. Top marks for the chicken wing though.

Sea bass, a prawn, pumpkin gnocchi and puree, black trumpets, ginger veloute -

Good execution and ingredients here, the only dish of the meal where I had doubts about the composition. Although tasty in itself, I don't really know what the prawn was doing there, and the gnocchi likewise seemed heavy and a little out of place. The plus side was the fish cooking, which seemed to have somehow infused it with ginger despite only being a sear.

All this was washed down by a white St.Joseph, Chardonnay and Chenin Blanc. A little more new oak than I like, but a nice match with the food. The list in general was good and not outrageous in markup, the wine waiter very pleasant and helpful also. We saw him taste the first bottle of the St. Joseph he opened and set it aside, so doing his job properly too. Good to see.

Roasted foie, cocoa crust, port poached pear, fig puree, chocolate sauce -

A very classical dish, and immaculate composition. A healthy sized piece of very good, eggy, foie also. Still had one vein in it, but not a serious problem. I'm not quite sure about roasting for foie though, I do love the crusty outside searing gives you. The cocoa crust was a clever simalcrum of this, but not really the same.

Split a glass (but still two perfectly good sized pours) of excellent Austrian pseudo-Sauternes. Great for the dish, but how can that combination go wrong...

Assiette of pyrennian lamb, celery, mushrooms, truffled potato puree -

Again 3 versions of the lamb. An astonishingly tiny rack piece (those were some seriously baby lambs, clearly), slices of loin (I think) and either shoulder or, more likely, neck, cooked much more slowly. Also a very cute addition of a slice of foie, the same size cooked exactly as pink as the slices of loin. To the casual eye just another slice of lamb, but ahhhhh.... A nice smooth demiglace/pan juice sauce and well truffled potatos, although again I suspect the flavor was from juice or oil. Not overwhelming and well integrated in to the dish though. Excellent meat perfectly cooked was the point of this plate though.

Cheese -

beaufort, valence, forme d'ambert, a corsican ewe's milk number with a wonderful rosemary and lavender ash coat and a not exactly epoisse. The forme and the corsican were the standouts for me, excellent condition and quality. Not so sure about the beaufort personally, but my brother has been a cheese salesman amongst many other things and thought it was spot on. Plenty of other nice looking things on the cart as well. The bread with this was with raisins, which I see all the time with cheese, but I'd really prefer something plainer. My fault for not asking, though. Bread was good - especially a bacon and onion brioche (the others were a soda bread and roasted garlic) - in general, incidentally.

A glass of Southern Rhone Syrah with the meat and cheese. Too young and brash for me really, should have gone with a half bottle of something classier, but quite enough opulence already...

Pre-dessert of Sauternes custard, apricot, vanilla foam.

Cute, nicely layered in a shot glass, very very good fresh vanilla, some liquor in the apricot that worked well too.

Chocolate souffle -

Banana ice cream dropped in tableside, along with a very dark chocolate sauce. Not totally sold on the ice cream, somehow a little artificial and in the souffle itself I prefer my chocolate darker. Perfectly made though - exceptional texture. Also the only outrageous sized portion of the meal, and kind of finished me of.

Espresso (excellent) and a couple of chocolates to end.

So the meal in general - really very little to criticize in terms of execution, construction of either the menu as a whole (an excellent flow, portion sizing and the most tempting dishes from the carte) or each dish, and ingredient quality. It isn't food that shows a very strong individual hand at the stove, rather being a sort of generic international haute style, with modern trimmings but basically safe in intent. That isn't really meant as a complaint though, it is obviously what the place is aiming for and they do it very well indeed. It didn't have the highly personal quality of the long menus I've had at Troisgros or Manresa, but as a way to spend a lazy afternoon you could do much much worse. Modern, comfortable room (although watch for the disintegrating tap in the men's room), friendly but correct and prompt service - although only 5 tables, clearly pretty easy for them - very well priced for what you get and being in central London.

A lot more fun than hiring a plumber and probably not much more expensive either.

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All this was washed down by a white St.Joseph, Chardonnay and Chenin Blanc. A little more new oak than I like, but a nice match with the food. The list in general was good and not outrageous in markup, the wine waiter very pleasant and helpful also. We saw him taste the first bottle of the St. Joseph he opened and set it aside, so doing his job properly too. Good to see.

If he was selling a St Joseph Blanc made from Chenin Blanc and Chardonnay, he was doing an amazing job

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All this was washed down by a white St.Joseph, Chardonnay and Chenin Blanc. A little more new oak than I like, but a nice match with the food. The list in general was good and not outrageous in markup, the wine waiter very pleasant and helpful also. We saw him taste the first bottle of the St. Joseph he opened and set it aside, so doing his job properly too. Good to see.

If he was selling a St Joseph Blanc made from Chenin Blanc and Chardonnay, he was doing an amazing job

Memory was a little addled by actually drinking the stuff when I wrote that. It was certainly Chenin, what's the rest of the blend more likely to be, Semillion? There's no reason to believe he actually said Chardonnay.... He seemed much more trustworthy than I am!

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all you're allowed in St Joseph Blanc is Marsanne (mainly) and Roussanne (sometimes).

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all you're allowed in St Joseph Blanc is Marsanne (mainly) and Roussanne (sometimes).

Hmmm, I don't think I was far enough gone to have made up that he said Chenin, maybe there was some confusion on his part as well as mine.... My wine knowledge, such as it is, is definitely on the red side of things. Still, a very nicely matched wine for the food regardless of what it was actually made of!!

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Great account Alex. I had the tasting menu with Rian a month ago, and I shared his enthusiasm for Brett Graham's cooking. I'll have another crack at uploading the photos. We met Brett afterwards, and he was an extremely likeable guy. Very young, energetic and enthusiastic, but humble with it. His staff clearly had a great deal of respect for him, and he spoke to us for a good 20 minutes with great honesty.

An astonishingly tiny rack piece (those were some seriously baby lambs, clearly)

He actually showed us a whole lamb in the kitchen, as it arrives from the supplier. Only 2 or 3 weeks old, it was tiny. I reckon at most 15 inches long, though as a male, I struggle with such estimations... He said he got them for £65 each, and even on tasting menu portions, we had a whole rump each. Apparently they don't make money on the dish, but serve it because Brett thinks they should at this time of the year. Remarkably pale and tender meat.

A nice smooth demiglace/pan juice sauce and well truffled potatos, although again I suspect the flavor was from juice or oil

It was indeed truffle juice, we were informed. I thought this was great stuff, but a little overpowering for the delicate flavour of the rump. But it paired well with the stronger, slower cooked parts of the dish. That was my only real criticism of our meal, and I mentioned this to Brett. That's the first time I've been able to bring myself to criticising a dish straight to a chef's face - he had asked us if we had any comments - and I think it's another testament to the guy that I felt comfortable doing that.

My problem was with the lasagne filling which was bound with a lot of egg and too omlettey as a result

I was trying to put my finger on why I didn't rave about this dish (well, the rabbit equivalent) quite as much as Rian, and you've hit the nail on the head. The rest of the dish was delicious though.

Does your brother always accept gastronomic treats as payment for plumbing services? If so, send him over!

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Thanks for the review, Alex, sounds like you very much enjoyed it.

He actually showed us a whole lamb in the kitchen, as it arrives from the supplier. Only 2 or 3 weeks old, it was tiny. I reckon at most 15 inches long, though as a male, I struggle with such estimations... He said he got them for £65 each, and even on tasting menu portions, we had a whole rump each. Apparently they don't make money on the dish, but serve it because Brett thinks they should at this time of the year. Remarkably pale and tender meat.

Actually I think the lambs he showed us were about 6 weeks old. The only reason I remember is that at Aikens last week the lambs were even younger and the staff there revealed that Aikens' used 2-week old animals.

A single seared scallop with a liquorice skewer running through it, on top of a mushroom duxelle with a white onion puree on the side. A quality scallop and cooked right, with nice caramalization on the outside, every so slightly gritty though. Both accompaniments were spot on.

I'm glad you liked this, Alex. I loved it. And it was even better as I'd been talking to Andy about how I'd been uniformly unimpressed by a number of recent scallop treatments.

Chocolate souffle -

Also the only outrageous sized portion of the meal, and kind of finished me of.

Can't agree with you more - this mammoth souffle was also the end of me.

I'd like to return for another tasting session, since I'm sure they'd be willing to construct an entirely different version. And only £10 more than the ALC, too.

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Sunday Lunch @ Ledbury

Finally made it to the Ledbury for lunch yesterday. The restaurant was surprisingly quite – only 6 or 7 tables were occupied.

Amuse – simple wafer thin piece of flat bread with a couple of strands of creamed foie gras - full of flavour, wonderfully seasoned - quite stunning.

Pre-starters – delicately seared disc of tuna wrapped in basil & lettuce. Drizzles of basil puree with lovely little gathering of small salad leaves & herbs. Very prett,y refreshing & flavoursome. Seemed like a lot for a pre-starter. I think was given to us because there were so few people – its one of the course on the tasting menu.

Starters – rabbit lasagne is back on the menu after a 6 month break or so our waiter told us enthusiastically – like a long lost friend who just returned. How could you resist? I didn’t & it was quite marvellous – a couple of layers of densely packed rabbit & pasta with puree of mushroom, fried mushrooms & foamed sauce. Some deep fried herbs provided colour contrast. Confident dish form a confident chef.

The other starter was red mullet with roast red peppers, pine nuts, purees & salad. Although vibrant to look at it only was only really brought alive by the red pepper. The mullet itself was quite plain and one dimensional – don’t know why – it usually a succulent fish. Good but not great.

Mains – thinly sliced roast duck with sautéed foie gras, sweetcorn puree and sweetcorn pancakes. Wonderfully thick reduced sauce. Very, very good.

The other was beef two ways – one slow cooked which took on the deepest mahogany hue & melting texture; the other simply roasted to perfection. It came with mashed potatoes (more a sauce, really) with layered sliced potato cake/wedge; Yorkshire pudding; horseradish sauce & deeply reduced sauce. I think we missed out on the veg (we saw another table getting some) but it didn’t matter – we couldn’t have eaten them anyway. This was fab.

Desserts were caramel soufflé with banana ice cream – I can never get enthusiastic about soufflés – always too eggy for my liking. I had warm figs with crushed apple, mini-donuts and ice cream. This dish didn’t work for me – all the components were fine but it didn’t come together as a single dish.

I almost forgot to mention the bread – the bacon brioche easily amongst the best bread I’ve had in a long time.

Set lunch is £35. I’m not a big fan of the Square – too formal & stuffy. I’d very happily come back here.

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A question.

The floor tiles in the gents loo - don't suppose anyone knows where they come from?

Ta

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Finally, the Ledbury has itself a website

I go here a lot, and now know Brett and the team quite well. I suppose I'm biased, but it's one of my favourite places in London.

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I thought they were never going to get rid of that bloody holding page. Nice job, although Brett looks a bit like a homeless person slumped next to the Ledbury Road sign.

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they've a great course on the tasting menu here at the moment -- celeriac baked in ash, which they cook in a crust and bring to the table to show you what they've been up to, breaking it open to reveal the neat ash-coated celeriac and to rather ostentatiously waft it around to show off the aroma, then whisk it away again to return some time later sliced sans crust and with shavings of truffle, hazelnut, hard-boiled egg and a crescent of some very tasty pork in breadcrumbs. For some reason, this was all absolutely brilliant -- black truffle and celeriac is a very safe bet but the other flavours really elevated it, and the wine pairing (forget what, perhaps on website?) was absolutely brilliant. I loved the fact that the humble celeriac was the grand centre-piece of the dish, with the pork relegated to a (very effective) supporting role.

rest of the tasting menu was superb, indeed better than considerably more expensive recent experiences at the Greenhouse and Midsummer House, with some superb wine pairings... I was very impressed. the yorkshire rhubarb raviolo with a melting, delicate lime ice-cream captured my attention more than any dessert I can remember for a long time...


Ian

I go to bakeries, all day long.

There's a lack of sweetness in my life...

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Funny you should post that Ian - I was about to post on the very same dish. I eat at the Ledbury a lot (probably too much!), and it is easy to become complacent about the quality of the food that is being churned out.

But my meal on Saturday was the first since before Christmas, and the quality really jumped out at me. The celeriac dish (and the roe deer dish - did you have this?) was stunning.

The crust is almost totally salt, but with a little egg and flour to hold together, and it actually looks like pastry.

Brett is trying to bring more tableside service dishes to the menu, which I look forward to. They also have a new restaurant manager, who is pretty top drawer, and a much bigger sommelier team. So it seems to be hitting a higher level, with greater consistency. Unfortunately, the restaurant really struggles with the lunch trade, due to location, which is a shame.

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But my meal on Saturday was the first since before Christmas, and the quality really jumped out at me. The celeriac dish (and the roe deer dish - did you have this?) was stunning.

Yes, the roe deer was wonderful -- fairly straightforward in composition, and flawlessly executed, really well-flavoured, meaty sausage with a subtle offal note, offsetting the refinement of the rare loin slices. the wine pairing was, once again, really good (2004 Valpolicella Superiore DOC, Corte Sant’ Alda, Veneto, Italy apparently).

no clue on the website as to the wine with the celeriac, but the wine with the basil and tuna -- 2006 Ribeiro, Vino do Campo, Bodegas Docampo, Castilla Y Leon, Spain -- was remarkable for the way it came alive with the food (it didn't really impress on its own, but when combined... very cleverly chosen)

Perhaps the least impressive course was the sea bass, with the smoked butter emulsion not seeming very smoky to me, and the remainder not doing anything particularly arresting, but it was still very well executed and entirely delicious... very good friendly service... there was nothing I could fault in the whole evening really :) it's quite a while since I was previously here (more than a year) and I was impressed then, but if my memory is correct it seems to have got even better...


Ian

I go to bakeries, all day long.

There's a lack of sweetness in my life...

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Not as far as I know! What's the Arpege element? Salt crust? Celeriac? The whole lot?

The whole lot. I can see a few Passard touches on the online menu too though I guess there are worse influences to have.

I may be mistaken but I reckon there's some LCS in there too.

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Not as far as I know! What's the Arpege element? Salt crust? Celeriac? The whole lot?

when I had lunch at arpege many years ago they centre piece was white beetroot cooked in salt - the whole restaurant was made to stop and look no matter where you were in your meal. The beets were then removed and everyone was served some (a few slices with 50 yr old balsamic) - even if you were haivng pud.

quite wonderful

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Tasting menu at The Ledbury last night, and bloody good it was too.

Thought the decor of the place was a bit bland, but not a major problem, there was a nice buzz about the place. Very friendly welcome.

Filo pastry with foie gras was a tasty pre-meal snack, nice pepperiness offsetting the rich foie. We were then given a palate-cleansing glass of champagne on the house. Which was nice.

Amuse bouche was a chilled courgette and basil soup. Very refreshing, the courgette flavour came through strongly, which impressed me given that courgette is not the strongest tasting vegetable.

Next up was a salad of various roots and flowers, with a pheasant egg and white truffle. Light and crisp, the flavours and textures melded perfectly. A Gaillac to accompany was really unusual, almost a grassy flavour, reminiscent of some olive oils. Went very well with the salad.

The following course was possibly the best for me. Seared mackerel with pureed avocado and shiso, very tasty, but the best bit was mackerel tartare encased in cucumber jelly - the textures worked really well together and the mackerel flavour sang through. A nice mineral Greek white to accompany.

Foie gras terrine with mango salsa and poilane was accompanied by a sweetish Riesling which had a long finish which offset the sweetness somewhat. Cut through the richness of the foie very well. A fairly straightforward dish but delicious and one of my favourites of the night.

Cod next, served simply seared and accompanied by various spring vegetables, meaty morels and a nice reduction. Very tasty but lacked the wow factor of some of the other dishes. Interestingly paired with an Italian pinot noir, very complex and worked well with the fish.

We moved onto slices of lamb, accompanied with a delicious aubergine dauphinois-type construction and some other veg - best vegetable of the night. Again, a fairly simple dish but the saucing was spot on, we savoured the flavours. A bold South African syrah was again a good match.

Getting quite full now, we progressed onto blue cheese pannacotta with pear ice. Really intense pear flavour. Think the pannacotta had vanilla in it as well. Great combination, although the panacotta was very rich for a pre-dessert and neither of us finished it.

Last but by no means least, a full size passion fruit souffle. Absolutely superb, again right up there with the best of the night, so light but bursting with flavour. A glass of Moscato de Pantelleria was delicious, we remembered it well from our trip to Sicily last year.

Finished off with tea and petits fours, which were great, three hours had passed and we absolutely loved it. Great, unpretentious food, really interesting wine selections, nice ambience and friendly staff. Will have to be done again.

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