A vicarious visit to The Ledbury

As an Australian it’s almost a patriotic duty to go and visit The Ledbury.

This is where Brett Graham has collected two Michelin stars and a slew of praise. This pristine corner of Notting Hill  is a fair distance for a chef who grew up in Williamtown and had his first job at Scratchleys on the Wharf at Newcastle. 
Consider the below something of a vicarious visit for other Australians interested in celebrating the efforts of one of our own. Or who  just want to perve on what was a bloody good meal.

Here’s how it starts:

It arrives not long after we’ve been ushered to our table. It’s like the best fried chicken you’ve ever had. Except it’s not chicken, it’s rabbit. Each piece is skewered, then nestled in a greenery, like it fell  and got caught in a shrub, where it’s waiting for you to discover it.

It’s a gift from the kitchen that is delivered while we’re still musing over wines. The Hungry One starts with a Kir Royale. Being the good sorts that they are here, our waitstaff don’t even raise an eyebrow when a 6 foot 3 ex football player and rower orders what is pretty much a lady’s drink.

Then it’s onto the other menu. There’s an eight course tasting menu and the much more financially prudent option of a two or three course set menu. We choose a middle path and go for a la carte.

You see there are items on the menu proper that include the phrase  ‘crisp pressed suckling pig’ and ‘Chocolate pave’. To deny The Hungry One those pleasures would be cruel.

So we each choose our choice, then dutifully swap plates and cutlery halfway through the courses.

We play nicely together. Particularly when we’re both dressed up and out to a special lunch.

NB, a quick aside.  The room at the Ledbury is lovely. It’s all starched white cloths and comfortable cream chairs. The room appears much bigger than it is. I kept peering into the second room, trying to see who was in there, until The Hungry One pointed out that the back wall was actually a mirror interrupted with cream drapes. I felt as daffy as an infant waving to its reflection – and this was even before I started drinking.  But for a Michelin 2 star, in a lovely room, it’s quite low key.  Many of the guests are casually attired. There’s no dress code here. Which is something we should have looked into before The Hungry One wore his good dress shoes through the mud in Hyde Park.

Back to the food. The first is a pond of Hampshire buffalo milk curd with a lily pad of grilled onion bobbing about. It forms a base of the white bowl. Poured over the top at the table is pristine broth brimming with the taste of grilled onions. It’s beefed up by the flavour of Saint Nectaire cheese- a cow’s milk cheese from Auvergne in France.

For extra textural crunch and a little bit of mystery on the side there’s a finger of toast, topped with slivers of truffle. As all good toast should be.

The other entree is an insight into one of Brett’s passions; game. It’s a fat raviolo of partridge.  The pasta is as wrinkly as the fold of an elbow and is perched on a mesh of wild mushrooms. There’s a prune poached in the smokey flavours of Lapsang Souchong tea crowning it all. At the table it’s bathed in a brown butter sauce.

The interplay of textures and murky flavours is what really makes this dish sing. That and the fact that the sauce forces you remember how wonderful the combination of brown bread and butter is.

Which is not something you’ll forget easily at The Ledbury. The bread basket is astronomically good. For one, it’s all warm. For another, there’s a multitude of choices; a crisp sourdough, a buttery onion and bacon roll and a sweet chestnut roll. They’re so good we each pick two. The Hungry One may have even been offered a third.

My main course selection is a loin of venison that’s been baked in hay. The hay gives the rare meat an even earthier character. Playing with it are some impressive renditions of pumpkin. There’s a creamy swirl of a sauce and a rougher puree for more textural difference. On the side is a little dish of coated and crispy pumpkin nuggets. These mildly flavoured balls of warm squish are particularly hard to share.

Lolling about near the mashed pumpkin are some pickled walnuts, chantarelles and a frond of dried chicory. It’s like a weekend segue to a manor house, all on a plate.

The alternate drop is the pig. It’s a pressed section of belly.  The skin is crisped like toffee. Lining up beside it are lengths of white carrot and a puck of threadish cheek meat. 

Beneath it all there’s some of that magical Spanish sherry, Pedro Ximenx, which is like a Christmas party in a glass. Over the top there’s a collection of grains which go snap, crackle and pop with excitement when you eat them.

By this stage we’ve been guided to glasses of red, by the incredibly affable Australian sommelier Luke Robertson.

It’s also worth noting the quality of the wine service at The Ledbury.  We’ve gone with a glass paired for each choice. There is nothing quite as comforting as putting your decisions in the hands of an expert. Luke’s selections are intriguing and exciting- with each course the food highlights some subtle aspects in the wine and vice versa. Luke is charming and keen to share his knowledge – whether on the vagaries of Portugese reds, or, that sometimes photos benefit from being taken on an angle.

Photographic advice c/o the Sommelier after seeing me subtly taking snaps on an iphone.

The end of the meal includes a double shot of Pedro Ximenex for The Hungry One who also has a sly nip of it as an accompaniment sinkingly rich slab of chocolate pave. The pave comes with a crunch of caramelised pumpkin seeds and a drooping quenelle of malted chocolate ice cream.

For me, it’s a  staggeringly buoyant passionfruit souffle. Descending in the centre like a ship in trouble is a scoop of a subtle sauternes ice cream. The combination of air and passionfruit is like a summer wind just blew through your mouth- though the note of sauternes in the  ice cream is incredibly subtle- and difficult to discern once it’s all muddled together at the plumpy depths.

To close there are sound macchiatos and a selection of petit fours from a tray. The Hungry One has a habit of asking to try one of each, lest he miss out on the best. Luckily for all involved there were only four to try (the same can’t be said of his efforts at Joel Robuchon in Las Vegas. There may have been 36 petit fours sampled).

The clear highlight was the darjeeling macaron. An intriguing twist on a classic, showing technique to burn.

A little bit like the rest of the meal, really.

All in all, The Ledbury is a delightful destination- perfect for a special meal out, or if you just want to sticky beak on the extreme talents from one from our fair shores. 

The Ledbury
(020) 7792 9090

127 Ledbury Road
Notting HillW11 2AQ
The Ledbury on Urbanspoon

  1. What a fabulous place! And The Hungry One really does live up to his name! 36 macarons? That has got to be some kind of record! 😮

  2. How food is The Ledbury – I agree it is a patriotic duty to go there as an Aussie!

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