|Last Orders||10.15 pm|
"The inventive British cooking is some of the best in London. Pigeon especially good."
"Our previous dinners at The Ledbury have set the tone for our appreciation of meals in other restaurants, and we thought that it would be hard to beat what we had already enjoyed here, but we could not resist taking advantage of a half-price offer from a hotel not too far from Notting Hill just to confirm. All-round excellence is a recurring theme in our reviews of The Ledbury, yet somehow, almost unbelievably, this time it was even better than before, with Greg Austin making Brett Graham's absence from the kitchen virtually imperceptible. As before, the service, so ably led by Darren McHugh, was a step up from the vast majority of top restaurants with the diners' preferences and previous meals noted and acted on, genuine personal recognition adding to the feeling of being not just a valued customer but almost a welcome friend, and slick and professional waiting on table. And, of course, on top of all this you get totally brilliant food. Over our glass of Taittinger Comtes de Champagne, we debated whether we ought to do a mix and match selection from the à la carte or stick to the tasting menu. We explained our quandary to Darren who promptly offered a "tailored" tasting option giving us more white wine possibilities, and, in particular, lobster rather than langoustine, a further example of how to make your diners happy. We have commented on the wow-factor coefficient at the Ledbury in our previous reviews, and once again we were treated to a succession of first-class dishes and carefully matched wines which produced suitably modulated oohs and aahs from us. It is impossible to find enough superlatives to properly describe our meal, so we have settled for a list of the dishes making up our menu and the wine flight: we luxuriated in canapés of Mirin-cured sea bass with apple, sunflower crisp with artichoke and cauliflower cheese tart which complemented our champagne perfectly; the steamed, light sourdough bread was so moreish it required a great deal of self-discipline not to wolf it all down and perhaps spoil our appetite for the rest of the meal; foie gras grated onto white peach, with fresh almonds, the occasional toasted almond, and runner beans, all with an almond oil was an example of how to provide a counterpoint of textures (Prüm Riesling); an enormous slice of of mild Bull's heart heritage tomato, with tart olive, tomato sorbet and a curd cheese cylinder which was a picture on a plate (Ostertag Sylvaner); some amazing truffle toast, buffalo milk curd (presumably from Laverstoke), Comté cheese, sweet onion, fresh peas and a wonderfully decadent onion broth (Côtes du Jura, Macle); a generous portion of beautifully sweet Cornish lobster coddled in shiitake, cooked cauliflower and raw shavings with fine bread crumbs sprinkled on, pine nut gel and sea purslane with its natural saltiness was sheer perfection (Argyros Assyrtiko); sumptuous poached (no water bath here!) wild salmon with Chardonnay butter, courgette, tomato purée, basil purée and a sprinkling of immaculate crayfish (Montegrossi Rosato); impeccable roast quail breast and confit leg, girolles, mushroom purée, black truffle and sweetcorn (Moutere, Neudorf and Montlouis, Taille aux Loups); juicy, tasty Muntjac, beetroot, chicory, intense blackcurrant, marrowbone, baked celeriac and amazing sauces with black garlic and juniper (Les Terasses, Alvaro Palacios); vanilla cream, apple and elderflower granita, yoghurt meringue which was the epitome of a pre-dessert to prepare the palate for the final course of gorgeous raspberry sorbet tart, fresh raspberry, redcurrant, pink pepper, basil ice cream (Late Harvest Mad, Tokay). With coffee we were also presented with a taster of 1967 Quinta do Noval port. This was a masterpiece of gourmet cuisine, with every element in every dish in perfect balance, and every dish in our tasting menu in perfect balance with all the others. The Michelin Guide rates restaurants "taking into account the quality of ingredients, creativity, mastery of techniques and flavours, value for money and consistency". We can vouch for the fact that all these factors are at the forefront here, and, by comparison with the three restaurants that are already graced with a top ranking that we have been to, The Ledbury clearly warrants a third star."
"This was the 2nd (and last) chance I gave to The Ledbury to impress. I really cannot understand why it is so highly rated. I was disappointed by the same things in both dinners; the second time I had no prejudices, I only wanted a good dinner and an experience. The ambience is ok; very elegant, open-space, passed. The service needs improvements. I did not find it welcoming, or passionate about what they were doing. Plus, considered that we were not in a rush and they did not need to use the table, I was super-annoyed when they took my plate away as soon as I put my fork down. Let me enjoy my dinner, in relaxation. (Even worse, for one of the dishes the waiter stood there waiting for a few seconds till I finished my morsel so he could take the plate. I swear it is true). So unprofessional! The food is generally well presented but, apart from the meat dishes, it lacked flavors. I think there were too many ingredients / flavors in each plate and no one took the lead-note, which is not necessarily bad if well balanced."
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