October 14, 2019

The kindness of friends

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At the top of my hit list for London in terms of dining sits The Ledbury.  The restaurant spent 8 consecutive years on The World's 50 Best Restaurants, rising as high as No. 10.  A number of friends are fans.  So I figured I owed it to myself to check it out.

Tonight there was a significant percentage of diners who were of Asian heritage, some of whom were big spenders.  We could have been categorized as such, but we chose to stay low-key.  Well... that attempt failed miserably when General Manager Darren McHugh showed up and asked for me by name.  I had forgotten that The Dining Austrian had informed the restaurant about my visit.  I guess we would be well-looked after.

After a pretty heavy (and unsatisfying) meal last night, we decided to take things easy and chose the 4-course option.

We started with a glass of bubbly...

Bérêche et Fils Brut Réserve, dégorgée le juillet 2019 - beautiful, nice and yeasty, with good ripeness and yet some acidity in the back.

Seaweed cracker with cream of smoked mussels - topped with some agar agar pearls.  Very smoky.  Delicious.

Puff pastry with guinea fowl mousse - topped with mead jelly.  Very, very delicious.

Two bites into dinner, The Ledbury was already kicking Bibendum's ass.

Steamed crumpet with brown crab butter - the texture was interesting, and I could definitely taste the crab but also some lemon citrus flavors.

Grilled shiitake with ricotta and truffle

Chantilly of oyster, tartare of sea bream and frozen English wasabi - the chantilly was very, very nice, with intense oyster flavors.  Very refreshing with cucumber and that wasabi snow that Darren said had no heat it in and "won't blow your head off".  What a fantastic dish!

Seaweed and potato crisp

Porridge sourdough bread

Whey butter

Warm Bantam's egg, celeriac, Arbois, dried ham and cèpes - Darren very kindly shaved some white truffle on top of our first plate.  The combination of egg, ham, and mushroom is just so classic and beautiful... they just work together.  And who am I to say 'No' to some fragrant white truffle??

Herdwick lamb, salt baked kohlrabi, padron and garlic chives - those roasted chops were really, really delicious... with plenty of lamb fat to deliver the flavors I absolutely love.  We've also got some sauce made with padron peppers, and a rectangular block of crunchy kohlrabi.

Hidden under the greens was a chunk of neck that was slow-cooked.  This was very tender, and very tasty.

The pre-dessert came with candied walnuts and quince juice.

Aynhoe Park honey, black fig, buffalo milk meringue and bee pollen - vanilla sponge and fig leaf ice cream.  Pretty good.

In terms of wine, I was originally asked to pick out a bottle that was the quality of GBP 2,000 but priced at GBP 1,000.  Unfortunately, that was never gonna happen here... so I debated between two interesting bottles before settling on something I hardly ever see in Hong Kong.

2005 Gangloff Côte-Rôtie La Sereine Noire - this started to show after 30 minutes in the decanter.  Beautiful nose.  An hour after opening this was really lovely with plenty of woodsy notes.

Towards the middle of dinner, Darren came over and asked whether I knew Drew.  Apparently Drew saw me checking in on Foursquare and sent an email to the staff at the restaurant.  As he lived nearby, he would have dropped by with a bottle had he known about my visit earlier.  Oh well.

This was a very happy meal.  The cooking was solid, the flavors were all there, and the presentation was sophisticated.  What a change from last night!

1 comment:

Tanguy said...

I live nearby! would have been happy to meet you after all those years following you.


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