Saturday, 5 July 2014

London & Paris Foodie Adventure 2014: Day 1- The Ledbury

127 Ledbury Rd, London W11 2AQ, United Kingdom
+44 20 7792 9090

Tastiness factor: 8.5/10

Atmosphere: 5/5

Service: 2/5

Locavore Approved? YES- Chef Brett Graham and his team are devoted to using local, seasonal produce of the highest quality in their dishes and it shows.  They feature a vegetarian tasting menu to really show off the bounty of the harvest, and even their regular tasting menu remains centered around produce.  Their menu is constantly evolving to reflect the day-to-day and week-by-week changes in local availability.

Two Michelin Stars.

#10 on San Pellegrino’s Top 50 in the World List.

Brett Graham, winner of countless national and international awards, at the helm.

How could Ledbury not be a great way to kick off our whirlwind tour of some of London and Paris’ best restaurants?

It was therefore with great excitement that we walked through the chic neighborhood of Notting Hill until we reached Ledbury Rd., where, you guessed it, Ledbury has its home.

The outside is simple yet elegant, with a black awning and tile entranceway.  The inside follows the same simple yet elegant black and white color scheme, and had an air of formality with its high ceilings, chandeliers and white table cloths.  There were a few rustic accents throughout the room, including the caribou antlers propped up in an alcove above our table. 

When we walked in, we were warmly greeted by the front of house and escorted to our table.  Unfortunately, that is where the good service ended.  The service was underwhelming at best.  Our first 4 amuse bouche came out within seconds of each other, with two arriving at the same time.  I felt I had to eat so fast that I actually choked on one of them!).  There was then a 20 minute lull until our first course made it to the table and from then on, it was a 20 minute wait between the following courses (sometimes up to 45 minutes).  We noticed that a couple who arrived 45 minutes after us were served their last course and gone before we were given our last bites.  To top it all off, we then had to ask for our bill multiple times to ensure that we did not miss the subway that stopped running ay 12:30 (we were seated at 8:15pm).  Even at the supposed 10th best restaurant in the world, I could have understood a few hiccups but everything that night just seemed to be off.  Our servers seemed rattled and disorganized, and we became increasingly annoyed.  It is possible that they sensed our disappointment, because as we left, our main server apologetically offered me a spiffy purse hanger with "Ledbury" on it.  Additionally, I must mention that the female sommelier that evening was fabulous, and was a very welcome reprieve from the otherwise confused and chaotic service.

With the service being so far below our expectations, it would have taken some pretty amazing food to save the night but unfortunately, Ledbury never quite reached the bar.  Hubby ordered the regular tasting menu, while I chose the vegetarian tasting menu.  Wine pairings can be added but we opted to split a bottle of wine instead and our lovely sommelier offered a great suggestion that went along with both of our tasting menus.  A la carte options are also available on Monday-Thurday evenings and lunch is offered from Wednesday-Sunday.  

So was the food good?  Yes.  Did it leave me feeling excited, amazed and wanting to come back for more?  Unfortunately, no.  Here are pictures of the courses of our respective tasting menus, with stars denoting the standout dishes.  

Amuse #1:

 Amuse #2:

 Amuse #3:

 Amuse #4:

Vegetarian tasting menu:

Dish 1: Turnip with sesame oil and radish

Dish 2: Green beans with peaches and almonds

Dish 3: Morels with potato puree

Dish 4: Beet medley

***Dish 5: White asparagus with truffles and quail's egg

***Dish 6: Celeriac baked in ash and salt crust

Regular tasting menu (only those different than those found on the vegetarian tasting menu):

***Dish 1: Greens beans, peached and foie gras powder

Dish 2: Eel with beets

Dish 3: Asparagus and crispy quail's egg

 Dish 4: Sea bass with cauliflower

Dish 5: Lamb and garlic scape

Desserts (same for both tasting menus):

***Pre-dessert : Custard with gooseberries

***Dessert: Fruit tart, custard, duo of sorbet and ice cream


Overall verdict?
Although there is no doubt that Chef Graham is extremely talented and delivered a very well-executed meal, most dishes lacked the “wow” factor that we had expected from a restaurant with such accolades.  We had tasted variations of many of the dishes before, and left feeling rather uninspired.  Admittedly, the culinary experience was clouded by the very poor service, which left an overall bad taste in our mouths.  I would like to give them the benefit of the doubt and say that they had an off night, but, any way you cut it, we will not be returning to give the Ledbury a second chance.

The Ledbury on Urbanspoon

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