Greedy Girl and gluttonous husband like to support home grown talent – not that Brett Graham necessarily needs it. The Newcastle lad (that’s north of Sydney Newcastle, not the Geordie one, as we overheard the waiter tell the people at the table next to us) has done exceedingly well for himself at The Ledbury, in leafy Notting Hill, having been listed at number 14 on this year’s San Pellegrino guide, up 20 places from last year.

With an early-ish start for dinner, Greedy Girl was relieved to see a number of other tables filled. Settling into a spot near the mirrored back wall, she eyed with some envy the tables for two along the windows which were set with side-by-side places. Note to self: request one of those next time.

A maxim Greedy Girl has yet to disprove on this tour of gluttony is: ‘the better the restaurant, the more personable the wait staff’. The Ledbury’s staff actually had something to say for themselves, instead of the robotic drone of some other establishments.

One particularly jolly fellow (well, we are in England) told us ‘the secret’ to getting a booking at Noma. Apparently you ring the reservation line the moment it opens for your desired date and, once you get through, ask for a table of 15. That is, he swears, the magic number that works every time. Only problem is, then Greedy Girl and gluttonous husband would need to get 13 of their mates along. Not such an impost if you live in London but organising a tour group from Melbourne? Don’t imagine booking a table for 15, rocking up with just gluttonous husband in tow and saying in a loud voice: ‘I can’t imagine what is keeping everyone else’ would cut much ice. But, again, I digress …

The Ledbury dining room

The dining room. Tables by the window are the best spot

It’s a very pleasant dining room and while the steady hum of conversation is punctuated occasionally by some raucous cackles the noise level never overpowers. The tables along the mirror are rather close together though and what was overpowering was the couple next door (not the same ones who needed clarification on the various ‘Newcastles’ around the world) who decamped for cigarettes, but more on that later.

With lightning speed, a canape appeared on the table – even before we’d managed to order a drink. As Greedy Girl observed throughout the evening though, this was not unusual. It was a delighful little crispy cup filled with smoked cow’s curd, chopped wild asparagus and dried black olives. The olives gave it a yummy saltiness that left us longing for a glass.

We ordered a bottle of a boutique champagne NV Bertrand Gautherot ‘Vouette et Sorbee Fidele’ extra brut. The sommelier told us it was a rich champagne, from the southermost parts of the district that bordered Burgundy, with a 50/50 split of chardonnay and pinot noir. She was right and it was an excellent champagne for the food.

Next came the amuse bouche – a chilled courgette soup with parmesan panna cotta and dotted with some crisp shellfish. The courgette started out strong but mellowed quickly to almost fade by the end of the cup.

So, into the serious stuff. First up was a ceviche of ‘hand dived’ scallops with kabu turnips and frozen horseradish. The scallops were ‘cooked’ by lime juice and topped with paper-thin slices of the turnips. The horseradish was made into a milk, which was frozen and then grated over the top. The taste was quite subtle – remarkable for something that is usually quite strong. Apparently this dish is often prepared with British-manufactured wasabi but the supply had run out.

Next up was a heavenly paean to tomato. A salad of heritage tomatoes was served with green tomato juice, accompanied by a crispy light pastry cylinder containing goats cheese, both ends dipped in dried olives. So full of flavour and sensational textures. Simply yum. Greedy Girl cleaned her plate so thoroughly that the Maitre D’, who scooped it up, commented that it was very unfair of the restaurant not to give her anything for that course. Greedy Girl heartily concurred.

Into the fishy side of things, Greedy Girl was determined to try, in spite of not really liking strong fish. First was a flame grilled mackerel with avocado, celtic mustard and shiso. What the menu didn’t tell you was it was served with an eel tartare. The avocado softened the fish somewhat but it was still a powerful flavour. Greedy Girl managed about half and gluttonous husband swooped to finish her plate as well as his own.

This was followed by dover sole, served with thinly-sliced cauliflower, a roasted floret, cauliflower puree and ‘thyme milk skin’ a viscous custardy ribbon on the plate that worked well with the overall flavours. On the side was a mussel beignet. It was a very good dish but Greedy Girl was hanging out for a splash of acidity.

Next up, into the meats, was a pork jowl, presented in its entirety, skewered by a piece of licorice root. Once shown to the table, it went back to the kitchen to be divided into two portions, accompanied by ‘peas and ham’ – the ham was a very fine jamon and the peas were done in two styles – a slick of pea puree and tiny perfect baby peas.

Then we came to the most outrageous dish of the night – fillet of Berkshire roe buck (the boy of the species) with red vegetables and leaves, bone marrow and cherries. The buck was sublime. Soft, melting, full of flavour and seasoned to perfection. Greedy Girl’s plate was missing her dreaded beetroot but gluttonous husband enjoyed it as part of his dish. Greedy Girl got a wedge of courgette instead. The bone marrow was soft, the cherries added a lovely note. Heaven on a plate.

Juices were mopped up by the last of the bread – this in itself is a bit of a trap. A warm sliced brown loaf was plonked on the table early on and then a choice of a multi-grain roll or onion brioche was offered throughout the savoury courses. The latter in particular provoked an ‘OMG’ reaction. Greedy Girl had to stop herself from taking more.

And so to pudding … we were feeling a little uncomfortable by this stage and not only because of the burgeoning bellies. The couple next to us had finished their mains and headed out front for a smoke. Unfortunately, when they came back they absolutely reeked. It was extremely off putting, as the tables were quite close together. It was the only downside of the seating arrangement and another reason to keep the side-by-side tables in mind for next time.

Stinky pair were also choosing their desserts. Mercifully the he chose cheese and it was a case of problem solved – the cheese stank more than he did.

Back to our food – the pre-dessert was a passionfruit jelly with sauternes foam. Dotted with tiny pieces of meringue it was texturally quite lovely.

Gluttonous husband had the tasting menu standard dessert of whipped ewes’ milk yoghurt with berries, lemon verbena meringues and warm citrus beignets, but Greedy Girl wasn’t taken by the idea of all that yoghurt. The waiter immediately brought the dessert menu for her to choose her and she plumped for the passionfruit souffle. We saw it served at the next table – a quenelle of sauternes ice cream was plonked into the middle of the souffle and sank majestically. Unfortunately Greedy Girl doesn’t eat ice cream so had to stop the waiter in mid-flourish. The sauternes ice cream ended up on a little gift from the kitchen – an extra dessert of brown sugar tart with stem ginger ice cream and poached grapes. Gluttonous husband polished that off too.

The champagne being long gone, gluttonous husband enjoyed a glass of a 1950 vintage Banyuls Roussillon dessert wine. Apparently the process of making the wine is similar to that of port. The result was nowhere near as heavy as port but the colour was a delicious ruby red.

A word about the pacing of the food – exceptional. Many tables having the tasting menu rushed through their courses and were gone long before Greedy Girl and gluttonous husband. The wait staff were able to anticipate the pacing and give the feedback to the kitchen. Bravo.

A final word about the cost. This trip has proved a bit of an eye opener for Greedy Girl. As a proud Melburnian, she loves to save her restaurant outings for the most part for a wonderful fine dining experience and has enjoyed most of that fine city’s top establishments but the cost of this extraordinary meal and wine, including a 12.5 per cent tip, was around $540. Greedy Girl has paid far more in Melbourne (and Sydney). It’s somewhat sobering to reflect upon.

With thanks to The Ledbury for the photos in this blog.

The Ledbury

127 Ledbury Road, Notting Hill, London W11
The Ledbury Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Square Meal

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