The Ledbury / Notting Hill, London


Yes, celeriac can be sexy.

Well. The annual Big One.

The Ledbury was the site of my birthday lunch, back in May. The annual epic Michelin blow-out.

The Ledbury was absolutely top of the list after genuinely gushing reviews from all kinds of folks whom I respect enormously, most notably Mark from Wahaca who talked about it without taking a breath for several minutes.

So a table for six was dutifully booked way in advance, and in the final weekend of May we ventured out West to parts of Notting Hill we’d probably not see again for quite some time.

Before we get into any kind of by-the-numbers course dissection (which I think I’ll just let the photographs do, erm, visually), it’s worth pointing out exactly what I feel makes the Ledbury one of the absolute Best Restaurants In London.

Service.

Bonus Birthday Cake

Bonhomie. Banter. Wit. Overwhelming knowledge. A little bit of showing off. All perfectly placed. Deftly timed.

There are very few restaurants that can truly say they’ve got the appropriate level of service absolutely right, but the Ledbury is certainly one of them. The staff somehow manage to be convivial, relaxed and sometimes downright cheeky without straying too far into the uncomfortable over-friendliness and ill-timing that plagues other London restaurants, especially in the ££££ bracket.

And it’s not just the maitre d’ or sommelier who exude this uncanny, natural charm, but every single member of the waiting staff.

All of them. Exceptional.

Texture.

What elevates the Ledbury’s cooking into its very own league is the quite unbelievable variety of texture, both in each individual dish and across the whole menu. It’s an enormously difficult thing to express in words, so if you haven’t already been sold to enough, get down there and eat. Just the simple act of putting each course in your mouth is a highly excitable and complex experience, weird as that may sound.

My mother, in her own inimitable style, referred to the use of ‘grit’ in each course. She meant it in the nicest possible way, and I don’t think any of us could think of a better word for it. It’s layered softness, but with depth. Nope. Not much better. Moving on…

Being a bit daring.

I suppose I’m referring to the wine here. We went for the matched wines at an extra £45 per head. Red with fish. Port halfway through. Mental. A blithe disregard for the Michelin rulebook. But calm, considered, tradition-banishing choices. The kind of choices that exude confidence in each component choice of every course.

And each of the bolder choices were flawlessly explained by the sommelier. What a dude.

So now this review is a bit past its menu relevancy date, I’m not sure what’s still on the Ledbury tasting menu. Our collective highlights were the faux squid risotto, the pomp and theatre surrounding the celeriac. Yes, celeriac can be sexy. And the finest loin of lamb you ever did see.

The trouble now is I feel the Ledbury should be in my life more often, since it’s such a joyous, care-free, but undeniably elegant experience. And what makes it even more tempting is the simple fact that the set menus are an absolute steal.

If it’s on your to-eat list, move it up a few notches to the top and get over there. You will not be disappointed.

Check it:

Mackerel
Bonus Shiso
Lamb
Choosing Cheese
Banana Galette

Full set of photos available on flickr

The Ledbury - Notting Hill Bookings via their website £125 tasting menu including matched wines

The Ledbury on Urbanspoon

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