I had not been back to the Ledbury for several years. Not easy to get a reservation there, but I got lucky when I tried for a table for two on a Sunday evening when I was just passing through London. Took an old friend from Oxford (definitely a haute cuisine foodie). We ordered the tasting menu (obligatory at Sunday dinner, I believe) with matching wines, and we utterly enjoyed each of the eight courses spread out over three hours. They were as follows. (1) Chantilly of Oyster, Tartare of Sea Bream and Frozen English Wasabi, with a 2015 Grüner Veltliner, Gőttweiger Berg. Stift Gőttweig, Kremstal, Austria; (2) White Beetroot Baked in Clay, Caviar Salt and Smoke Eel, with a 2015 Assyrtiko, Estate Argyros, Santorini, Greece; (3) Warm Pheasant Egg Celeriac, Arbois, Dried Ham and Truffle, with a 2010 Savagnin, L’Hopital, Domaine Buronfosse, France; (4) Steamed Asparagus, Blood Orange, Shellfish Cream and Sea Vegetables, with a 2012 GVB, Vergelegen, Stellenbosch, South Africa; (5) Pork Temple, Hispi Cabbage, Juniper and Crackling, with a 2014 Pinot Voir, Elio Ottin, Aosta, Italy; (6) Belted Galloway Beef, Hen of the Woods, Jersey Royals and Pickled Wild Hops, with a 2012 Keermont Estate, Stellenbosch, South Africa; (7) Gariguette Strawberries, Rosé Jelly and Clotted Cream (no wine match for this course); (8) Chocolate: Dark Chocolate Chantilly and Mint, with a 2006 Rivesaltes Ambré, Domaine Des Chênes, Roussillon, France. Three utterly delicious amuse gueules were added along the way. Every dish was a masterpiece, though we especially enjoyed the first, third, and sixth courses. The tasting menu costs £145 per person, or £255 with matching wines. The total came to £539, inclusive of tax and service (and an after dinner drink for each of us). Absolutely worth every penny. We felt very well fed, but by no means overstuffed. The wine portions were generous enough to enjoy with each small course, but not so large as to leave us blurry. We approved the use of Greek and South African wines, all three of which were excellent (and no doubt helped keep cost within reason). We have special commendation for the wait staff and sommelier—young, very professional, very efficient, and not nearly as stuffy as most upper end restaurants tend to be. The head chef, Brett Graham, is Australian, which perhaps helps account for the very professional but cheerful atmosphere. I don’t think I have ever before eaten anything exactly like any of the eight courses: the level of inventiveness is amazing.
The Ledbury is about as good as top-end restaurants get. It is quite different from Heston Blumenthal’s The Fat Duck, but I would put them both in an out-of-this-world class. I have fond memories of great meals at La Tante Claire and various incarnations of Chez Nico in the eighties and nineties in the heydays of Pierre Koffmann and Nico Ladenis. They were great chefs, but more essentially traditional in their culinary conceptions. For anyone seriously attentive to taste combinations and wine matches, The Ledbury is a fabulous experience.
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