Reviewed by The London Haloodie
NOTE: At the time of writing, halal meat was available upon request at The Ledbury. After speaking to The Ledbury, it has been brought to our attention that they no longer have halal options available at the restaurant as they are unable to source high quality halal meat.
Start as you mean to continue – my life motto and, why would it be any different for my food ventures. Tucked away in a truly residential part of Notting Hill, The Ledbury was no exception.
I had heard about The Ledbury a few times and even before I visited I had a good feeling about it. Anyone can write a thing or two about their food experiences, but what I love the most about being a food blogger is going to the depths of what the restaurant is really about – its core, its values. The Ledbury’s Head Chef, Brett Graham is an interesting story right here – at the tender age of 15, he worked for a renowned restaurant in Sydney, Australia where he won an award that granted him a trip to the UK where he won further awards such as Young Chef of the Year in 2002. He went on to becoming Head Chef for The Ledbury and, the rest, as they say is history. It is evident in his menus and foods, that ingredients from the countryside play a huge part in what Brett is all about.
I love a traveller, but more so I love the fact that when you go to The Ledbury you know what to expect. If a person has won a few awards for their food, its going to be good! (Or so you would presume… never presume!)
However, in this case presumptions weren’t such a bad thing. The Ledbury has won a number of accreditations, one of which being awarded two Michelin Stars. When you walk into the restaurant you really do get the feel of a Michelin Starred restaurant. The interior is very simple and minimalistic but clearly the emphasis is on the food, not the decor.
However, the ambience felt a little cold. I am not sure whether it is the fact that, admittedly, most of my foodie ventures revolve around Knightsbridge, Mayfair or Soho, which have a very different vibe to the mature yet chic ends of Notting Hill. The vibe of the restaurant made me feel a little uncomfortable. Now this is an achievement on its own as I don’t usually feel awkward or uncomfortable in 99.9% of situations. However, it is quite possible that the woman sitting on the table next to me was a major contributor to this thanks to her comment as soon I took my SLR camera out of my bag and asked the waiter if it was ok for me to take some photos, she commented to her friend how inappropriate it was to be taking food pictures in a restaurant like The Ledbury. Obviously, I looked at her, smiled and continued taking my photos, but this had never happened to me before and felt a bit embarrassed by this. My friend on the other hand was, to no surprise, absolutely mortified, which made the process a little more enjoyable than it should have been! I soon changed my mind about the vibe of the restaurant as soon as the waitress muttered those magic words to me – “Do you want a hook for your bag?” – Music to my ears, I knew I was home!
That aside, the food – that’s what we are here to discuss after all! When making the reservation, I asked them whether they serve halal meat, they said they did not but would be able to arrange it for me. When we arrived on the day of the booking, our waiter told us about the chef’s favourite dishes and informed us that halal lamb and chicken had been sourced for us upon request. I loved the fact that I was able to go to a restaurant that did not serve halal meat but that were considerate enough to source it. I love that they also have a vegetarian tasting menu, making it accessible for all people of different diets.
We were presented with the menu by a lovely waiter, who explained the set menu and the A La Carte menu. We both went for the 4-course set menu. The waiter told us that they would replace the deer on the menu to the halal lamb that they sourced for us earlier. Having looked at the website before visiting I knew that the a la carte was a little more expensive, but the set lunch menu at £55 a head seemed reasonable enough for a Michelin starred restaurant.
So 4 courses might not seem like a lot of food for the price you’re paying, however, there was so much food I was struggling by the end of it – with the small parcels of goodness, or “pre-starters” and post-starters as they called them, it was more like a 9-course meal!
First came out a few pre-starter starters (I love that this is a real thing… all other restaurants must take note!!)
Presentation was clearly an aspect that Brett had paid a certain level of attention to and it was beautiful, however I must admit, on some of the dishes there was so much attention on presentation that it may leave the diner a little confused about what is edible and what is not. Unfortunately, having to learn the hard way with the Seaweed Crackers with Eggplant and Mushroom Cream. Now, when someone says “seaweed” you generally think of what you get at the local Chinese takeaway, which is edible. On this occasion, this was not the case, as the waiter very kindly, but to my embarrassment, told me a little too loudly for my liking that the seaweed was not edible. Thanks for that! Once I eventually figured out what part of the amuse bouche I was meant to eat, it was delicious too, very light but the flavours, as with everything else on the menu, were very evident– the seaweed not so much!
The 2nd amuse bouche were Foie Gras Puffs, which I expected to be heavy and rich in flavor – the flavours were strong but not overpowering and it was surprisingly light, which was perfect as an amuse bouche.
Next came the Potato Crisps with seaweed (which, adding to my earlier confusion, was infact edible!) – the presentation was, again, incredible. It definitely would not have had the same effect were these pieces of thin crispy potatoes served on a regular plate.
The first starter was the Chantilly of Oyster with Tartare and Frozen Horseradish. As it was a cold starter, it really woke up the taste buds and forced some of the strong flavours around.
Next, was the Roast Cauliflower with Crab Butter and Parmesan, when I read Cauliflower, I thought really? Coming to a Michelin Starred restaurant I thought the least they could do was get a bit more special with their ingredients, who wants to eat cauliflower?! But, gladly I was proven very wrong! The cauliflower was perfectly flavoured with a crispy layer of parmesan and basil covering it. The presentation was unbelievable and I almost didn’t want to ruin it. Even looking at these photos now, I am in awe of what a beautiful work of art this dish really was.
Most of all I was looking forward to the lamb, I had seen photos of a similar dish rolling around on social media and thought it would be similar to a steak. Now, by this point we were really stuffed and thought we could not eat anymore. Cue the entrance of the lamb and everything changed. The lamb came in 4 small pieces, which may look like it wasn’t enough to be a main meal, but these pieces of lamb were so beautifully carved, the meat itself was by far one of the best I have tasted in a very long time. I can still remember every single taste bud of mine having a party inside my mouth. The pieces of lamb were so filling, and above all else, fulfilling.
Once we had made our way through the beautiful lamb that left us beaming with happiness, I couldn’t bare the thought of anything else. Enter the dessert. Throughout the meal I kept thinking how the menu had been just right but the dessert just made it evident that this menu was so well thought and designed in a specific way by a man which is not only passionate about food and flavours, but also the needs of his demographic. We were offered Whipped Buttermilk with Rhubarb and Olive Oil and a side of Shortbreads. I love that the dessert was so light and refreshing and just the right amount after, what turned out to be, an almost 8-course meal.
Regardless of my initial reservations of the pretentious and somewhat snobby vibe at The Ledbury, once the food arrived everything was forgotten. All in all, the experience was great. Brett clearly has a passion for ingredients and the combinations of flavours was well thought and just perfect.
I particularly love the mix of everyday ingredients such as cauliflower mixed with more luxurious ones such as oysters or that perfect piece of lamb. The food was the main hero of the night, as it should be. The presentation was perfection and you could almost taste every ingredient on the plate but at the same time no compromises were made on the flavours and food combinations.
It comes as no surprise that The Ledbury was awarded the World’s 20th Best Restaurant in 2015, and so well deserved! Now admittedly this is a big statement to make but the food was phenomenal and probably one of the best array of menus I have had the pleasure of tasting in a very long time! Given the level of service and food at the restaurant, The Ledbury is so reasonable and affordable, especially given that it could have been pricier given its location in the affluent Notting Hill. With essentially a true British country feel to it, I love that Brett has understood that Britain, and London especially, is all about its multiculturalism, with the vegetarian and halal options suitable for anyone.
Overall, I would not hesitate in recommending each and every one of you to try The Ledbury, be it for lunch or dinner, for a special occasion or just because, like me, you have a strong passion for good quality food.
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About The London Haloodie
The London Haloodie is a London based food blogger with a passion for the finer things in life, from Chanel to afternoon teas. TLH’s appetite for good food found her searching high and low for halal options within the fine dining scene around London – which were many, but not many people knew about them. Her passion for good halal food takes her to the finest places in London, and she wants her fellow haloodies not to miss out! So follow her on her journey to bring you the halal treasures of London dining. Check out TLH on Instagram , Twitter and check out her blog
Reviewed by The London Haloodie