Brett Graham, a young-ish Australian chef expat, is perhaps the name London foodies must have come across at some point, and the reasons are good, too. The Ledbury, where he is head chef, has received international acclaims, one of which’s being its second Michelin star early this year, as well as such renown diners as Alain Ducasse, Rene Redzepi and Ferran Andria. That sounds very glossy, indeed, and I, for once, feel obliged to blog about this place.
This is not my first time at the Ledbury; I went there with my other bib early this year, right after the restaurant received its second star. We said, then, it was a truly good meal; we’d go there more regularly if we were locals but it was not one of those places we’d fancy taking a trip across the city to. Did my perception of the Ledbury change after almost a year?
Let’s see …
I started with a canape of Goat’s Cheese and Black Olive, a little basket of crunchiness and sikly cheese. Olive added strong flavour and aroma. Then came the duo of mushroom-y amuse bouche. The Buffalo Curd, Wild Mushroom and Beef Jus was very potent in meaty flavours and creaminess. If you’re not accustomed to buffalo dairy, I can say it is always void of foul smell like, say, goat’s milk. Imagine a good ball of Mozzarella but with a tofu-like texture. Heavenly. The bite of Truffle Toast was indulgent, creamy and crunchy (too!) and bursting with aroma not only from the generous shavings but also from the mayo-like mousse.
My first course of Flame Grilled Mackerel with Cucumber, Celtic Mustard and Shiso was interesting, good and with some Asian influences. The fish was grilled to flake on the fork and leaking juice with its skin very crispy, wonderful! The light citrusy and mustardy combo was not strong but enough to lift up the fish. Personally, I would prefer the garnish to be a little less subtle. Mackerels, in general, are oily fish, and acidity is vital to better the taste and cleanse the palate. Cucumber slices provided occasional explosions of juice to counter what I felt the minute lack in acidity. Bluntly speaking, without the cucumber, I would say this verged on becoming something not too remotely Japanese, but the addition of cucumber made the combo more interesting.
My main course of Shoulder of Pyrenean Milk Fed Lamb, Jerusalem and Chinese Artichokes, Winter Savoury Milk and New Season Olive Oil was also appetising. First of all, how generous of the chef to put extra helping of crispy lamb’s skin on the plate!? I loved it! The lamb itself was also cooked to perfection, most moist and most tender. The garnish I found not very powerful but it allowed the lamb to be the centre of the tasting. I was rather surpised to have first tasted the Chinese artichokes, which looked like small sprouting tear drops. There were some good bites but not the most pronounced in flavours; the artichoke puree spoke more volumes and depth. Nonetheless, a very heartily good dish.
Moving on to the dessert, I went for the Chocolate Cremeux, Walnut Ice Cream and Warm Chocolate Madeleines. Good? Yes. Imagine scoops of Nutella with ice cream and sugar-coated walnuts, no more no less. Indulgent but not very memorable. The madeleines did not pass my taste test, which I though was a general flaw of baking mini madeleines. They tend to get too crispy rather than a mixture of crispiness and spongy texture. That said, they did it at Hof Van Cleve, the perfect mini madeleine!
Petit four followed and I must say a very eye pleasing finish to the meal. Macarons–whatever the flavour was I couldn’t quite tell and the meringue that broke in an unpleasant way–white chocolate hazelnut truffles–very smooth chocolate and purely grogeous crunch–mandarin jelly–the fruit pastille was divine, boasting a fantastic balance between sweet and sourness–and violet Marshmallow–nice texture and fragrant.
So, did my perception of the Ledbury change?
Not much. I still feel it deserves its second star but not the frontrunner of the pack. More than 90% of my meal was inarguably good but I believe, in years to come, they’ll become a LOT better. The most memorable component of the meal–not sure if this sounds fortunate or not–was the amuse bouche and the petit four. That said, the Ledbury offers something other two starred restaurants in London do not, which was the reasonable price. If you are big on meat on the plate and intense flavours, I can assure the Ledbury is the right place for you. But, if your stomach churn at the sight of big meat–we are strictly talking about food–and crave for refinement and elegance on the plate, the Ledbury might not be one of your very first choices. One last thing that the Ledbuy does and other do not? Actually it is the other way round. The Ledbury does not do dresscode–though I don’t think they’ll let a naked diner in–which I find a revelation!
My head rating says, “9 out of 10″.
My heart rating says, “7 out of 10″.
127 Ledbury Road
Tel. 020 7792 9090