For our second (of 3) dinners in London I choose The Ledbury. There are two 3 Michelin Starred restaurants in London the first is Restaurant Gordon Ramsey, which we had just dined at, and the second is Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester. I choose not to dine at Alain Ducasse’s restaurant because I already have reservations for his restaurant in Monaco and I thought I had reservations at his flagship restaurant in Paris. The Paris reservations fell through although we were able to sub in Ledoyen instead at the 11th hour, which was awesome.
Anyway, The Ledbury is the sister restaurant of The Square although in regards to accolades and fame it has eclipsed it’s older relative. It currently holds two Michelin stars and is ranked 27th on this years World Top 50 list.
The Ledbury is located in Notting Hill, aka far from central London. We took a 25 min Uber without significant traffic. We were seated at our table and served a few canapés consisting of savory cream puffs and a chip with a pate type foam. It was all very good.
We decided to dine a la carte tonight, maybe it was the fatigue of 12 Michelin stars without break I’m not sure. We placed our order. And immediately after came a small bite of braised venison encased in a corn meal dough. I don’t know how else to describe this other than it kinda tasted like a corn dog. I’m not saying that in a bad way at all as instead of a hot dog there was braised venison, a marketed upgrade. But the texture of the exterior was that of a corndog and the taste was corn of course. I liked this bite a lot.
The first dish I ordered was candy beetroot with english caviar. I love beets and these white beets were delicious. And the caviar on top only elevated the dish.
I have to mention the bread and butter as it was my favorite in London and rivaled Paris although in a different rustic style. The bread was very good with a nice crust. But the butter was outstanding and different. It was essentially partially churned butter. I’ve never thought of serving butter like this. It was probably something like 65% fat with the remaining water and milk solids compared to regular butter than has slightly over 80% fat. I’m of course estimating numbers based on the consistency of the butter. It was very liquidy. Somewhere in between cream and butter. It was amazing.
My second course was a lobster tail and shiitake mushrooms. It was served with cauliflower and a butter emulsion sauce with fish notes. I love lobster so I’m easy to please as long as it’s not overcooked. This one was perfectly cooked and the shiitake mushrooms overtop were very good and added a cool texture to the lobster.
My last entree we selected was the lamb dish. I had ordered (or had on a tasting menu) lamb at every restaurant up to now so I saw no reason to stop. It was served with eggplant, or aubergine as the Brits call it, which was dusted with dried olives and black tea. That may have been the best eggplant I’ve ever had. The olive and eggplant flavors worked so well together. But more importantly the flavors of the eggplant, olive, spinach (sauce) and lamb worked even better. I tried to get a little of everything in each bite. Great dish!
At this point we were unexpectedly served a dish of braised short ribs with black truffle and hen of the woods mushrooms. It was terrific and doubly so becasue it was unexpected. I’m not sure if they give out extra courses like this often or if it was becasue we told our server that we were culinary students eating our way through Europe. Either way I loved this dish.
Next we decided to have a plate of cheese from the trolley. They offer the cheese as an extra course or instead of the dessert. We of course choose it as an extra course.
This time as the cheese cart was a little more manageable, only 10 options to choose from, we had him serve us some of each.
To accompany the cheese plate I ordered my glass of port selecting a 20yr Tawny from Grahm’s. To my surprise it was served from a 5L bottle to which I just had to get a picture with.
After this came our pre-dessert. This was a cream and gooseberries. It was light and refreshing. It was also served with a hot cinnamon sugar doughnut, which may have stole the show.
And lastly the dessert I choose which consisted of strawberries with a clotted cream ice cream which was delicious. Strawberries are in season now and all the restaurants are featuring them in some way.
As we asked for the check we were given a couple final touches.
At some point during the meal my friend told the server that we were culinary students from NY dining through Europe. From then on each person we came in contact with asked us about school or our trip and which restaurants we’ve been to ect. Sam in particular was extremely accommodating and going so far as to write down recommendations for us to try on our next stop, San Sebastian. And by this point having tried a few of his recommendations I’ll say they are spot on. Anyway after having thoroughly enjoyed our dinner I asked for the check and a pair of menus to take with us as mementos. They gladly printed us menus with the date and listed exactly what each of us ate. Awesome touch. As we were leaving we were asked if we’d like to see the kitchen to which we replied of course.
We were led downstairs where we were passed off to Chef Brett Graham, the head chef. I’ve seen many kitchen but never has the head chef been the one to show me around. Not only that but we were given a small plate of ice cream and the chef talked to us for over 10 min. We talked about everything from school to the culture of going to culinary school to how american’s tend to pay for school. He then started asking questions about our trip and which restaurants we liked best and asking about specific dishes. After the best ‘kitchen tour’ I’ve ever had we finally departed and have to say this was the best non-tasting menu meal I’ve ever had.
I’ve always considered London to be one of the most expensive cities in the world. And although it remains expensive there are a few factors that make it slightly more in reach. First is the pound is 30 cents cheaper than the first time I visited London. And second is that I find that the high end restaurants are actually cheaper than their Paris counterparts. Ledbury is no exception.