Wednesday, 6 June 2012

The Ledbury, Notting Hill, London Restaurant Review

It’s recently been drawn to my attention by some of my friends that I tend to overuse superlatives and statistics in my blog posts. More often than not I’ll spew out ludicrous statements such as “it’s the best slow cooked chicken’s lip I’ve ever eaten” or “it was recently voted the best Bhutanese restaurant in Wales by the Women’s Institute”. Perhaps this can be explained by the Scientist in me; I like things to be concrete rather than wooly.

This brings me to the 14th best restaurant in the world, The Ledbury. Goodness knows how San Pellegrino has come up with such specific rankings of the world’s elite restaurants but if they could share their algorithm with me, it would make writing reviews a lot simpler.

Pointless rankings aside, The Ledbury is scarily brilliant. Brett Graham’s food is stunningly plated, mixes classic and modern flavours and textures, and most importantly is utterly delicious. Service at The Ledbury is the best I have ever experienced; slick yet friendly, laid-back and not overbearing. Finally, the atmosphere is relaxed and unpretentious. The lack of dress code meant Gourmet Gilly and I wore casual clothing without feeling awkward or out of place. Twin sets and pearls sit side by side with string vests and joggers (that's an exaggeration).

In fact, The Ledbury is so good it’s a struggle to come up with any criticism of yesterday’s lunch. If I’m being exceptionally petty then the tap water was iced at the start of the meal but by the end it was room temperature. This minor imperfection is evidence of just how awesome our meal was.

Having luckily netted a last minute lunch time reservation, we opted for the exceptionally good value lunch menu (£30 for 2 courses, £35 for 3 courses). In contrast to the bargainous set lunch, the entry costs for the wine are a little steeper. £8.50 is the cheapest wine by the glass and £25 is the cheapest bottle (prices increase rapidly). I quaffed an excellent glass of Young Vines Riesling.

Amuse Bouche – Parmesan cream, poached asparagus and edible flowers in a wafer thin tart case. If these were available from the snack aisle of my local supermarket I’d eat a bag full.

Bread – Immense in both quality and quantity, every time I cleared my plate the bread guy returned to offer me more. Bacon and Onion Brioche was croissant-like. A brown sourdough roll and a brown roll with crystallised malt were warm and crisp; the perfect vehicles for generous slathers of melting butter.

Starter – Macaroni stuffed with quail, spring truffle and thyme with a veloute of parmesan. The combination of rich flavours steered away from heaviness and retained a light quality. I had to get some more bread to mop up the last of the veloute.

Starter – Salad of heritage tomatoes with lightly smoked cow’s curd, dried olives and green tomato juice. A menagerie of tomatoes, complex tasting plant leaves, and delicate pastry tubes stuffed with lightly smoked curd were capped off with black olive powder. This clean tasting dish was a contrast to the indulgence of mine.

Main – Crisp pressed suckling pig with creamed potato, mousserons and sugar snap peas. Categorically the best pork and the best crackling I have ever eaten. Whilst the flavoursome and moist belly pork fell apart simply by looking at it, the crackling was crunchy as can be and thin as a crisp. Meanwhile the creamed butter contained a small amount of potato in it , the mousseron  mushrooms added a  sweet, earthy note to the dish and a dark smear of chicory, Pedro Ximinez and liquorice added a sweet, smoky quality to the plate.  

Main - Roast turbot with asparagus, shellfish cream and Jersey royals. I’ve never tasted such a flavour packed shellfish sauce in my life (what's the running total of superlatives in this review?)

Dessert – Whipped Ewe’s milk yoghurt with berries, lemon verbena meringues and warm citrus beignets. Hot and cold, crisp and soft, creamy and watery, this was a dish of contrasts. In addition to the soft citrusy doughnuts, creamy yoghurt, strawberries, blueberries and crisp shards of meringue mentioned on the menu, a refreshing white chocolate sorbet added an extra dimension.

As Gourmet Gilly and I were both celebrating our birthdays, we were kindly presented with a couple of complementary desserts from the a la carte menu. In the interests of fairness I sliced each down the middle and got back to the business of eating.

Dessert – Brown sugar tart with poached grapes and stem ginger ice cream.  Stunning. Simple flavour combinations prepared to perfection.

Dessert – Mille-feuille of mango, vanilla and kaffir lime leaf. The crispest, finest, puff pastry I have ever eaten, layered with vanilla cream, perfectly poached mango and a fascinating, fragrant background note of kaffir lime leaf.

Coffee and Petit fours - Lemon Jubilee cupcake, chocolate truffle and mandarin jelly.

The Ledbury is worthy of all the accolades it’s had thrown at it. It can now add the accolade of the most superlative ridden review on this website to its collection. Brett Graham is clearly an absolute legend. In fact I’d probably go so far as to say he’s the 14th best chef in the world. 

The details:
Address - The Ledbury, 127 Ledbury Road, Notting Hill, London, W11 2AQ
Telephone - 020 7792 9090


  1. Wow, wow, wow! I know this place regularly comes out near the top in lists, but recently I've heard so many people independently say how fantastic it is that I'm starting to believe the hype! Only thing I disagree with is the lack of dress code - I'm a big fan of dress codes, and nowhere seems to have them these days. Mind you, you could argue that if you're paying these prices, you should be entitled to wear a string vest if you want to! Great review.

    Hannah @ Love to Dine

  2. Believe the hype and go! Have to say I'm not a fan of dress codes. They're far too common for my liking in stuffy Michelin starred gaffs. It doesn't bother me what other people wear and you can always dress up if you like. Dress codes bring to mind archaic night clubs of my youth and the ubiquitous uniform of Ben Sherman shirt, black trousers and a pair of loafers. Cringe.

  3. I'm not jealous. I'm not. Not one bit. Who's jealous? Not me. No definitely not *repeat to fade*

  4. wow. just wow. forget superlatives, that mille-feuille is supernatural. very impressed.

  5. Ha! Thanks. Just been looking again at the pbotos. It was sooooo good. I need to go and have the tasting menu soon.......

  6. Agree with the fantastic review. All dishes except one on the tasting menu were excellent and that is because the one exception was beyond excellent -- buffalo milk curd with truffle toast and broth of wild mushroom. That was one of my all-time favorite dishes ever. Simply amazing. Enjoyed speaking with the servers as well - wonderful job by Jacque and Matt - made the evening very special.