The Ledbury – London
Blogging must really addle my mind. I’m not sure why I didn’t realize earlier that my husband would be in London on business for the two weeks spanning Easter. So, after confirming with a colleague that Good Friday was still a holiday at our recently merged firm, I scoured the internet for a reasonable flight.
Unfortunately, traveling on such short notice has its drawbacks. Aside from the nosebleed airfares, it’s also impossible to book a table at many of London’s better establishments. Maybe the recent ebullience in the market was not a mirage after all? Was the economy finally starting to pick up?
My first choice was Fifteen, Sir Jamie Oliver’s project channeling inner city youths to a productive life in the kitchen. Both the restaurant and the more casual trattoria were booked. We tried River Cafe, where Sir Jamie was weaned, perfect for an Easter lunch overlooking the Thames. Also booked. Chez Bruce, no. 2 on Zagat’s list for food. Booked Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Even Gordon Ramsey’s small plates offering, Maze, cut us no slack even though we were housed under a common roof at the Marriott.
Luckily, the kind souls at the Ledbury took pity on us and squeezed us in for a 6:30pm dinner on Saturday. The restaurant, named after the street it’s on, is situated at the end of Ledbury Road in fashionable Notting Hill. Because it was so early, we were the only ones there. This was fine by us since that meant the wait staff could take their time explaining each dish.
The three course prix-fixe meal started off with different kinds of amuse bouche.
Beetroot Meringue with Foie Gras. Light like cotton candy, the meringue disintegrates as soon as it touches your tongue, leaving you to savor the cold foie gras mousse in the middle.
Pheasant Sausage Roll. Bits of pheasant meat in a croissant-like casing. Delicious.
Smoked Potato Veloute. Silky and reminiscent of bacon.
Roast Foie Gras with Glazed Endive, Blood Orange and Toasted Grains. The toasted grains are a novel touch, providing a nice crunch to each bite of foie gras.
Lasagna of Rabbit and Morels with Watercress and Parmesan. Pretty complicated construction here. Probably a quenelle of rabbit and mushrooms formed into a cylinder, gently steamed, then sliced and placed in between thin disks of ravioli pasta. Delicate and subtle flavor.
Shoulder of Pyrenean Milk-Fed Lamb Cooked for 24 Hours with Truffle Creamed Potato and Buttered Celery. Lamb you can claw at with just a fork is always a favorite. Truffles and mashed potatoes are a nice bonus.
Calf Sweetbread Roasted on Licorice with Grilled White Asparagus, Dates and Almonds. The sweetbread is lacquered with a reduction that is sweet (must have been the dates) but not cloying. The toasted almonds contrast the sponginess of the meat.
Rhubarb Jelly Consommé Passionfruit Verjus Cream as a pre-dessert. Sorbets must be a thing of the past. This jelly seems to be the rage now in palate cleansers. We had a similar one at Orrery the following day.
Raviolo of Yorkshire Rhubarb with Yoghurt Consommé and Rhubarb Doughnuts. I can never get enough rhubarb because I love its tartness. The “see-thru” raviolo is bit of a puzzle. It tastes like unflavored gelatin, but how did they make it into such thin sheets?
Passion fruit Soufflé with Sauterne Ice Cream. I like how the tartness of the passion fruit cuts through the richness of the souffle base.
Even at the best restaurants, not everything always turns out to be a hit, but this was one of those rare exceptions. Easily the best meal I’ve had so far this month.