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Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Lunch(es) at the Ledbury

Recently, i was lucky enough to attend a lunch arranged by a trade magazine at the Ledbury in Notting Hill, London, where head chef Brett Graham has been awarded two michelin stars for his cuisine. The meal was arranged for a monday, and after setting off to london at a ludicrously ungodly hour from cardiff, i spent the whole morning's train journey anticipating the meal.
I was not disappointed, and my fellow diners were also suitably impressed and we spent several hours ooh-ing and aah-ing as each new course was unveiled.
Having had such a great time and enjoyed so many (six) courses, i sent Brett (i feel we are close enough to use first names.) an email thanking him for the meal and letting him know i was planning on putting some of the food photos i took onto twitter (@chefbennett01 if your into it...). the nest day i received a reply, thanking me for attending, and asking me to get in touch should i return to london in the future so that the team at the ledbury could look after me. this was too good an offer to refuse, so the following month i made arrangements for myself and a good friend to pop in for a lunch and notified Brett via email.
we arrived at the Ledbury bang on 12 o'clock and were instantly greeted as though we were old aquaintances by Sarah and the rest of the front of house team, and offered a glass of champagne as a welcome. very shortly after this, Brett himself came up from the kitchen and chatted with us for a while as other guests started to take seats around us. My guest and I were offered a tasting menu by Brett and he promised to look after us- which he did in abundance.
what followed was an astonishing tour of his a la carte menu, mostly half portions shared between us, and each course was more impressive than the last, right up to the last plates which were the three most popular desserts on the menu for the two of us to share.
some of the dishes were startlingly simple- the scallop ceviche with seaweed oil and frozen horseradish comes to mind, and some were a lot more intricate- a pigeon dish comprising rare roast breast, smoked leg, brochette of heart, lung and liver, roast kidney, foie gras and a grelotte onion tart tatin, but no matter how plain or well dressed a dish was, one thing was the same- the flavours were amazing. the simple ones didnt need anything else, and the more complicated ones were totally balanced and complimented themselves beautifully.
other favourites were seared mackerel with cucumber and shiso, squid and pine nut 'risotto'- the squid was cut to look like rice and warmed in a cauliflower puree, celeriac baked in ash (in a salt crust pastry) with a wild boar kromesqi (fritter), and hereford snails in an herb mousse with pickled carrots and oxtail.
without a doubt, mr Graham (back to the formality) is cooking some of the most imaginitive and the most technically stunning food in london and probably the whole of the U.K. right now. if you get the chance to go, do it! you will not be disappointed.

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