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Gutted. Was meant to be at the Ledbury on friday night as well but had to cancel at the last minute :angry: Although one of the main reasons I was going was for the celariac baked in ash dish - do you know if this was still on the a la carte or not?

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Gutted. Was meant to be at the Ledbury on friday night as well but had to cancel at the last minute  :angry:  Although one of the main reasons I was going was for the celariac baked in ash dish - do you know if this was still on the a la carte or not?

I think it was on the ALC if I remember rightly. I was a tad disappointed it wasn't on the tasting menu...

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You should have asked - they would have subbed it in for you. Sounds like a good meal though.

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A stunning lunch here at the weekend - can't believe i left it so long to return. Canapes were truffled cod brandade "lollipops" which were delicious - not really sure it needed the truffle but whos complianing? I started with the Salt baked ash rolled celeriac with kromeski of suckling pig as i seemed to remember reading something about it one one of the previous posts. It wsa absolutely fantastic - mthey bought it to the table and sliced it in half, wriggling the celeriac around inside to demonstrate the ash as well. The smell of the celeriac when they cut into it was delicious and when it returned to the table it had been sliced and served with the kromeski. When i enquired as to what this was they explained it rather neatly as a sort of pig fish cake - made from "all the best bits" of the pig - they needn't have worried about my being squeamish as this was brilliant - i would happily return for that alone and am already trying to work out if i could attempt this at home (has to be worth a shot)For mains i opted for the john dory with ras al hanout. This was steamed and served with broccoli, crab and toasted pinenuts as well as a little yoghurt(?) and a light foam. This was another very good dish, with all the flavours coming through. For dessert i chose the white chocolate, elderflower and strawberry trifle mmmmmmm. I chose a 1/2 btle of terlaner but raelised pretty soon this wouldn't stand up to the dory so had an extra glass of st aubin with that on the sommeliers recommendation which worked nicely. The Restaurant amnager was utterly charming, as were all the senior staff, my only gripe (and its a small one) was a chef de rang who seemed hell bent on putting his mise en place EXACTLY where he wanted to despite the fact i was reading a magazine and as a result made me move a couple of times to accomodate him which was a little intrusive but i was taking up a lot of room. With a glass of champagne, coffe, the aforementioned wine and water i left around £90 poorer but very happy indeed and if i can limit my alcohol intake (not easy) i will definitely be back soon - the asparagus with moriles and caramelised duck tongues looked delicious....


"Experience is something you gain just after you needed it" ....A Wise man

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do you reckon the food could be ambitious enough for a second star if they continue in this vein? (and if so how long do they have to put in?) It sounds like their consistency is good, and I must admit I enjoyed my last meal there more than recent experiences at The Capital or Midsummer House, albeit tending towards the more straightforward.


Ian

I go to bakeries, all day long.

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

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So I managed to make it over to the Ledbury last night, and before i give my views on our meal I must say that this crisis seems to be hitting hard - i booked only a few hours before, and of the 65 covers there were no more than 30. Granted it's a Tuesday night, but nonetheless...

We had the tasting menu (two of us) with a glass of St. Aubin to start which was excellent, at 11.40 each so it should. Followed by a Vosne Romanee 2001 from Engel - pricey at £62 as is the rest of the wine list, which i generally found quite lacking. There was only one red Bordeaux under £60.

I'll begin with our spend as to me value for money is how i judge a place. The total came out to £235. The evening was very pleasant, the service good throughout.

Were you to ask me later in the week and i would not remember half of the dishes - by this afternoon i had to go to the website to remember all of them. There is a mackerel dish with avocado which stands out, purely on the quality of the sourcing and cooking. Fantastically cooked fish, barely cooked inside with a lovely crispy skin (i cringed later on while my neighbour at the table next to us removed it). A very well conceived dish was the beetroot cooked in salt and marjoram, where it failed was in the detail; a poor balsamic reduction added tableside which to me ruins the concept of the dish. My personal feelings on balsamic vinegar are aggressively negative; it should be all but banned from the kitchen. Belive me i say this with an open mind: not only was the sauce poor, why add that level of flavour to a dish which centres around the purity of a vegetable? One could go further with this and question the use of a sweet sauce on a sweet vegetable.

The foie gras was a terrible let-down. I remember my comments well: it's enjoyable because it's foie gras. Litlle cubes of fresh mango with a terrine of foie gras? Amateurish combination which is poorly executed; reminds me of American fusion cooking. Foie gras won't handle an sharp and acidic fruit like mango when served fresh and cold - possibly processed mango would work.

Three dishes contained basil, possibly one more - two of them as a major ingredient. A bit much for my linking in a tasting menu. The final dish was a chcolate pudding served with a basil ice cream, both on their own were good; however albeit very small i was "empalagado" as we say in Spanish by the end. Terrible combination as the basil ice cream was not able to ease the dense chocolate; for ma a classic example of poor attempt at clever out of the ordinary parings which come far short of traditional practices - a great cream in any myriad of forms would have been far superior.

It needs reiterating - we had a lovely time and a very good meal of a high standard. I walked out of the Ledbury a very happy human. But, but, but, nothing i tried (except for the mackerel) was remotely inspiring, certainly nothing blew my mind. For £120 a head and all the fuss, under normal scrutiny i would expect much much more.

-che


Edited by CheGuevara (log)

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I'm glad to read of your loathing of 'balsamic' vinegar. Its general substitution for proper vinegar is a horrific symptom of the infantilisation of gastronomy that has taken place over the last twenty years.

I like the Ledbury. It isn't worth £120 per head, but as the MD of Natoora are you sure you feel comfortable regretting high prices?


Edited by muichoi (log)

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I agree £120 is a lot for the Ledbury.

I feel that I enjoyed my experience more than you did yours. However, I did personalise the tasting menu quite significantly! My favourite dishes were the mackerel, grouse and venison, but you must have had lamb and foie gras with the mackerel.

How did you find the sea bass or have you completely forgotten it?

Food Snob


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My favourite dishes were the mackerel, grouse and venison, but you must have had lamb and foie gras with the mackerel.

How did you find the sea bass or have you completely forgotten it?

Going by last night, it seems the turbot/sea bass has changed again -- into cod this time... which is a shame as it's just too boring a fish, with too uninspiring a texture, to carry a dish with such nice-but-unremarkable accompaniments. This said, the combination of raw and roasted cauliflower slices was deftly handled, and the beignet didn’t seem fish-and-chip-like to me… though the choice of fish itself was straying in this direction ;) .. I suspect the raw-plus-cooked trick was also used in the puree that accompanied the scallop, this one combined richness and freshness very successfully, and paired with the liquorice note of the scallop as well as you would expect – a simple course but really first rate.

I substituted the grouse for the foie so can’t comment on the latter, but the grouse was superb, and they generously gave us a (presumably starter-sized) raviolo each. The flavour of the egg combined in with the grouse filling came across strongly but not displeasingly, put me in mind of Café Anglais. The veloute was lovely, and the elderberries were subtle and effective.

The beetroot was sound enough but I didn't think it an outstanding course – albeit beautifully presented, I found it a bit too simple and rustic in flavour, with nothing to sufficiently elevate it in the accompaniments, in spite of the successful incorporation of the marjoram. Didn’t manage to convincingly make a root vegetable the centrepiece in the way that the celeriac baked in ash did, and I agree the balsamic vinegar detracted rather than added… its serving at the table also seemed more fussy and needless than usual.

The mackerel was the best course – a truly impressive elevation of this humble ingredient – and various other touches, such as the use of hibiscus with the strawberry terrine, were very successful. I’m rather keen on the combination of basil and chocolate, so had no objection to the last course, and thought the pave was very well judged, extremely rich but light in texture. Also, the wine pairings were very well chosen, and fair value at £38 I thought (more enjoyable than some recent £60 pairings at hibiscus imho, and the meal too for that matter…)

Admittedly, nothing really stood out as much as the last time I was here, but the standard was extremely high, rather like pied-a-terre in the sheer level of consistency course after course… but not quite the same level of excitement, not so many things that really stand out and amaze. But a few more courses like the mackerel, the celeriac baked in ash etc. and it’ll be a different matter…


Ian

I go to bakeries, all day long.

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

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I agree with a lot of that, but why such a strong and common antipathy to balsamic vinegar; I feel almost bullied into silence - I like balsamic vinegar.

Disagree about the cod comment too. I, for one, quite like it. However, that may be from the fact that I eat it so rarely, that when I do, it's a pleasant change.

The fish+chips reference was relating to the odour from the dish; it was the first thing that hit me and stuck in my mind; the beignets were greasy though.

I was very close to asking for the new fish dish they had on the ALC (cod and tomato, I think), but I had already changed so much around, I didn't want to take liberties (though I am sure they would not have minded!).

Also, has anyone tried the pigeon main?

Food Snob

P.S. can chocolate ever be too rich?


Food Snob

foodsnob@hotmail.co.uk

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I agree with a lot of that, but why such a strong and common antipathy to balsamic vinegar; I feel almost bullied into silence - I like balsamic vinegar.

Me too, I wouldn't seek to ban it from the kitchen. I guess it has the same sort of middle-class-ketchup associations as truffle oil, but it remains a perfectly useful ingredient. (I even dare on occasion to mix a touch of it with olive oil for bread, which makes me highly non grata around here. Speaking of which, the excellent black olive bread at the Ledbury was served very slightly warm -- highly contentious stuff!)

I've not had good experiences of balsamic being added to things tableside though, in this case it strayed the beetroot slightly too far in the pickled direction for me. (It doesn't do much for chocolates either! Foliage??)

As for cod, although I like it I can't remember any really impressive dishes based around it that I've had in a fine dining sort of place, it usually seems to get used in a slightly macho context where something like monkfish would pull it off better. But no doubt it can and has been done...


Ian

I go to bakeries, all day long.

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

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Nonsense! I practically grew up on bread dipped in balsamic vinegar-olive oil. OK, slight exaggeration, but it is actually one of my strongest gastronomic memomries of childhood. lol

That reminds me of dark chocolate marmite truffles at Paul A. Young.

As for cod, neither have I bar one, at Hibiscus, where it came roasted with gnocchi, truffle, girolles, sage & onion purée and Lancashire mead sauce. That was very good. But, I must admit, I cannot recall the last time I ordered cod ALC; there is always some variety I prefer more on offer.

Food Snob


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firstly balsamic vinegar, very similar to truffle oil, or any ingredient for that matter, in the wrong hands it can be horrible but a wonderful ingredient if used sparingly and with one of good quality.

only someone worrying more about food trends than what is actually good would ever call for the banning of any ingredient.

secondly, monk superior to cod? what planet are you on? cod is one of the finest fish known to man, especially from the thick end of a large fillet. monk is watery, tastless, talk about a fashionable ingredient that is far better talked about than eaten (not that i would ever want to ban it, the cheeks are especially good deep fried), but as an alternative to cod, no way. the only reason chefs use monk is that it presents nicely because you can carve it. you will very rarely see an ingredient led restaurant such as river cafe or st john using monk.

rant over, see you in another couple of months!


Matt Christmas.

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monk superior to cod?  what planet are you on?  cod is one of the finest fish known to man, especially from the thick end of a large fillet.  monk is watery, tastless, talk about a fashionable ingredient that is far better talked about than eaten

Hmmm... start of a cod war...? ;)

I don't mean to imply monkfish is superior in itself, just that cod sometimes seems to be used where something more macho -- a more robustly textured and less subtle fish like monk -- would work better. I've had some very enjoyable dishes based around monkfish, where it's not at all watery and good use was made of its slight bite/chew, i.e. the way it tends slightly in the shellfish direction in texture. I think of cod as a subtler fish, working better with treatments like that Ramsay recipe where it's infused with predominantly herbal flavours during steam cooking. IMHO that was why it didn't work brilliantly at the Ledbury -- there were no delicate, interesting flavours combined with the fish, instead the cod was up against the roasted cauliflower, a robust but relatively unsubtle and simple flavour, and I didn't feel that in this setting that the cod, plainly treated and with the texture it had ended up with, was capable of carrying the dish.


Ian

I go to bakeries, all day long.

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

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secondly, monk superior to cod?  what planet are you on?  cod is one of the finest fish known to man, especially from the thick end of a large fillet.  monk is watery, tastless, talk about a fashionable ingredient that is far better talked about than eaten (not that i would ever want to ban it, the cheeks are especially good deep fried), but as an alternative to cod, no way.  the only reason chefs use monk is that it presents nicely because you can carve it.  you will very rarely see an ingredient led restaurant such as river cafe or st john using monk.

rant over, see you in another couple of months!

Monk more highly regarded by cod because you can cut it into big firm steak-like pieces. Its an anomaly of western cuisine that big firm regular sized pieces of protein are particularly prized even if they don't taste as good as other cuts. Particularly true re: chicken breast vs. chicken leg (why do you pay a premium for the dry tasteless big of the chicken???) and any steak you can name.

On the fish side this basically explains why dover sole, turbot and to a lesser extent monk go for such a silly premium.

Would also observe that monk is a much more forgiving fish to cook than cod, and also stays in better shape when it is not entirely fresh. Which are all arguments both in favour of selling monkfish and against actually ordering it.

J


More Cookbooks than Sense - my new Cookbook blog!

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I'm glad to read of your loathing of 'balsamic' vinegar. Its general substitution for proper vinegar is a horrific symptom of the infantilisation of gastronomy that has taken place over the last twenty years.

  I like the Ledbury. It isn't worth £120 per head, but as the MD of Natoora are you sure you feel comfortable regretting high prices?

Had never thought of it as "infantilisation" but it is quite precise a term...commenting on chefmatt's post further down on the issue, the balsamic vinegar which was popularised over the last 10-20 years is purely a sweet and sour condiment, made with loads of sugar - the latter being its appeal. Even aged balsamic vinegars which say 20 years on them are not necessarily aged for that long, the process has been commercialised. No self-respecting Italian would ever dress a salad with balsamic vinegar...

I don't regret or disprove of high prices per se, i do believe in value for money and fort the most part belive the pricing on Natoora is excellent in that regard. Our quality is certainly far superior to any of the online or offline grocers - at least my palate thinks so. In any case we wouldn't be able to supply the top restaurants in London with the same produce if we sold what was more readily available on the high street.

-che

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I agree £120 is a lot for the Ledbury.

I feel that I enjoyed my experience more than you did yours. However, I did personalise the tasting menu quite significantly! My favourite dishes were the mackerel, grouse and venison, but you must have had lamb and foie gras with the mackerel.

How did you find the sea bass or have you completely forgotten it?

Food Snob

Certainly didn't stay with me as the mackerel did. The fried cauliflower was very good - i loved it, but the cauliflower in three versions is again amateurish to me. What was the purpose of cauliflower in three ways? plus a caper sauce? Was the dish about the cauliflower? About sea bass with cauliflower? Who knows...either way i didn't leave thinking that cauliflower and sea bass is an amazing combination or that capers have anything to do with cauliflower.

If there is no purpose other than playing on the "nouvelle cuisine" of the recent past, then caualiflower in textures demonstrates an inability to be truly creative.

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I agree, it did not do anything for me either.

However, I did have a much better trio of cauliflower at Hibiscus last month.

Bosi prepared couscous of purple cauliflower, purée of white cauliflower and roasted calabrese romanesco, together with a fantastic piece of duck.

Also, I didn't get any capers with my sea bass!

Food Snob


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cauliflower/capers, originally jean georges with scallops, the capers in the form of a puree with rasins, later lifted by gordon


Matt Christmas.

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cauliflower/capers, originally jean georges with scallops, the capers in the form of a puree with rasins, later lifted by gordon

i'd say more originally the sicilians who produce wonderful capers and have been combining cauliflower and capers for centuries.

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cauliflower/capers, originally jean georges with scallops, the capers in the form of a puree with rasins, later lifted by gordon

i'd say more originally the sicilians who produce wonderful capers and have been combining cauliflower and capers for centuries.

oooooh aren't you the clever one! i stand corrected on the history of cauliflower and capers, except that i am pretty sure jean georges introduced the combo into modern haute cuisine menus, and knowing brett i reckon he has more knowledge about jean georges than the history of sicilian cooking!


Matt Christmas.

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i didn't leave thinking that cauliflower and sea bass is an amazing combination or that capers have anything to do with cauliflower.

the sicilians [...] produce wonderful capers and have been combining cauliflower and capers for centuries.

are you implying the Ledbury managed somehow to reverse centuries of sicilian heritage? there's culinary innovation...


Ian

I go to bakeries, all day long.

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

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A meal here a few weeks ago was a real revelation. The food, service and whole experience were highly enjoyable, and clearly merit that 2nd star.

Not a single technical mistake, but rather incredibly perfect, interesting and different food was turned out by Brett Graham's kitchen, and I am really looking forward to returning, in order to find out more about his work.

In general, the best dishes were the scallops, celeriac and turbot. All of them were absolutely terrific.

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