The Ledbury

The night after dinner at Dinner by Heston Blumenthal, we ate at The Ledbury. We both ordered the tasting menu, me sans seafood and offal.

We really enjoyed ourselves here. The restaurant was formal but the staff were very friendly and chatty throughout the evening, helping to tone the formality down a few notches. It was a Monday night so the restaurant wasn’t full, and as it was also the night of the The World’s 50 Best Restaurants for 2013 announcement in London I’m not sure if Brett Graham was actually in the kitchen. Nevertheless, the food was brilliant.

Here’s what we ate:

From the bread basket I chose the brioche with bacon and onion. I had to restrain myself from having more than one as the last thing I wanted was to fill up on bread, no matter how good it was!

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We started with two amuse bouches: poppy seed tart with goat’s curd and freeze dried olives …

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… and a cold zucchini soup.

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For my first course I had salad of spring vegetables (asparagus, peas, radish) with pumpernickel emulsion and a warm pheasant egg.

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D had the ceviche of hand dived scallops with kohlrabi, seaweed oil and frozen/freeze dried horseradish. He said they were perhaps the best scallops he’d ever eaten, and the dish had a very Japanese feel.

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For my next course, I had the ‘risotto’ of celeriac with parsley. Despite the name, there wasn’t a grain of actual rice in sight – the risotto was made from the celeriac. It’s a shame you can’t really see it in the photo.

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D had the flame grilled mackerel with pickled cucumber, Celtic mustard and shiso. Perfectly cooked fish without even a hint of burnt taste.

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For the next course, we had the same thing: creamed jersey royals with morels (a delicious kind of mushroom) cooked in Earl Grey tea, bacon and wild herbs. Superb.

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I then had the Hampshire buffalo milk curd with Saint-Nectaire (cheese), Iberian ham on toast and a grilled onion broth. HELLO! This was my favourite course, until the pork jowl came out. There was so much flavour in that broth. Wow. Just wow.

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D had Cornish sea bass with asparagus, peas, mousserons and smoked eel milk. Eel is not something D gets to taste often, but he always enjoys it when he does, and this was no exception.

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The next course was pork jowl, which had been slow cooked for eight hours in a number of spices – star anise and cinnamon were among them, I’m sure. They brought the whole thing out to the table for us to see and to smell. I was somewhat disappointed when what re-appeared was so small in comparison, but only because this dish was the highlight of the night for me. I could’ve eaten the whole piece of jowl if they had let me! It came with walnuts, parsnip and pear. So. Damn. Good.

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The final savoury course was haunch of muntjac (venison/deer) with red vegetables and leaves, bone marrow (not for me) and rhubarb. Venison is something neither of us really order – too many bad experiences, but when it is put down in front of you like this, you give it go. Easily, it was the best venison we’ve ever had. Surprisingly good.

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We then had a palate cleanser but I can’t remember what it was. Based on the picture, citrus-y granita and curd with meringue!

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Dessert was a brown sugar tart with poached grapes and stem ginger ice cream. So delicate and creamy.

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I’d mentioned that we were there celebrating my birthday a few days early, so we also received an extra birthday dessert that was a nice touch. It was a pavé of chocolate with lovage ice cream. I’ve linked to an article on lovage because its taste is quite hard to explain. It was only the second time I’d had it, and I didn’t like it in this form either.

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One thing that we both loved about The Ledbury was the plating of the food – not just the look of the food, but also the actual plates and bowls used.

As we’re pretty spoilt for choice for restaurants in Melbourne, each time we visit a new place, we always ask “would you come back?”. Even more so, for those restaurants with two or three hats or that are overseas, because the meal probably isn’t going to be cheap in any sense of the word, nor will an opportunity to visit come up very often.

As for the The Ledbury, would we go back? Yes. In a heartbeat.

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