Tuesday, August 20, 2013

everything is always lovely and luscious at The LEDBURY in London (8-3-13)

It has become a tradition for me to head to The Ledbury in London as soon as I arrive there, and this trip was no different. I waited for Will & Samuel to arrive the day after I did and we took off for our tasting menus, which have now become legendary.
The decor has changed a bit since the riots two years ago when protesters destroyed the entire glass front, but the intimacy remains and the service, now under the new manager, Darren, is still impeccable.
On Fridays and Saturdays only the 105 pound tasting menu is now available (wines are an extra 70 pounds per person, and well worth the expense as they are new finds, rare treats and perfects pairings for every course.
Samuel stills gets his 49 pound multi-course menu and now at 10-years old, he really has come to appreciate that every course is geared specifically to his tastes.
The Foie Gras in tuille with Apricot Meade was delish and Sam even tried this although
he admitted the liver texture is not his thing. He was brought a Cucumber Cocktail with Elderflower which he liked at first, but said it got a bit sour after his first course pairing. This was a RISOTTO of New Potatoes, Celeriac & Wine Mushrooms with Shaved Black Truffles. We discovered immediately that Samuel now adores truffles!!
The Bacon & Onion Rolls arrived and these are not to be missed, yet they look like sweet cinnamon buns. Crystalized Malt Rolls are also super tasty.
Our Amuse was Chilled Courgette (Zucchini/Squash) Soup with Lobster & Parmesan. Once again this place never fails to impress your palate warming it up for a roller coaster ride of fab flavors. The BERECHE et FILS CHAMPAGNE from Montague de Rheims was a great treat with this small soup taste.
Ceviche of hand dived SCALLOPS with Tokyo(from Berkshire) Turnips, Seaweed Oil and Frozen Horseradish is a dish that Chef always has on the menu but comes in variations, as his frozen horseradish is a signature ingredient. This came with small apple jelly pearls resembling caviar for fun. A simple PICPOUL de PINET Domaines Felines Jourdain 2012 stood up to the acidity.
When its hot in the summer (and it was in London), lighter fare on a huge menu is always welcome and even moreso when it includes local farm products. Salad of GREEN BEANS with Fresh ALMONDS, Peach and Grated Foie Gras was a hit for all three of us. Samuel, thought the grated foie was parmesan at first and declared he can easily eat it in this form! He got a PEACH & CRANBERRY Cooler to pair here and enjoyed Johannes Josef Prum 2011 Riesling Kabinett from Mosel which has a tiny bit of sweetness to play on the peach and foie gras.
Flame Grilled MACKEREL & Tartare with Pickled Cucumber, Celtic Mustard and Shiso is a dish we had two years prior and Darren says it will never leave the menu, lest a riot ensue. It's a fab dish with the tartare and avocado wrapped in a thin rice-paper-like roll, but it must be a vegetable base for sure. Of course the grilled fish with mustard can't be beat. ASSYRTIKO 2012 from GAIA in Greece is wild fermented and has a yeasty but crisp flavor matching the difficult combinations of tastes in the complex fish presentation.
At this point Samuel received a CRISP CHICKEN over Sweet Corn Veloute and I know at some point his drink changed to Kiwi-Pineapple Ginger Ale!
We proceeded to the WiLD SALMON with Tomatoes Cooked in Lobster Oil with Crayfish and Lemon Verbena. The wine was COLLIO FRIULANO 2011 from Toros, which I have never been a fan of, but must admit the wine paired again brilliantly with the lemon and other ingredients.
My first time at The Ledbury introduced me to the signature preparation of CELERIAC Baked in Juniper with Hazelnuts and Black Truffle. Well, that is the variation we have today ad the celeriac is ceremoniously brought to the table before it is baked and then presented again in its burnt cooked salted crust before being plated tableside. It is a fun dish as well as an amazing tantalizing taste. Samuel was enjoying the truffles, I had to ask and discovered these are from Australia which explains why they are so flavorful, as they are not lighter summer truffles from there at this time. Domaine Ostertag 2009 Zellburg Pinot Gris from Alsace is a superb wine from a winery I always adore and it was delightful with the mix of flavors here.
Our main "meat" course was Loin of Hampshire ROE BUCK with its sausage and Red Leaves, Vegetables, Salted Cherry Blossom and Bone Marrow. There were beets and a sour cherry chutney as well for sublime flavor. We finally moved to a red, Jean-Luc Colombo 2007 Syrah "Les Ruchets" and Samuel was treated to Lamb with Young Carrots and Potatoes, only to move on to a Filet of Beef with Potato Galette, and a small portion of the celeriac in juniper. He also got some smoked marrow, but said it was not to his liking. We were so amazed at all the new things he was tasting. It was really a journey.
The pre-dessert was Black Currant Crumble with Yogurt, almost like a parfait with tiny beignets. Sam liked the donuts, but not the parfait, which we both loved.
Next came Thinly sliced BLACK FIGS with White Heather Honey, Olive Oil & Caramelised Sourdough. The sourdough was more like a crisp for crunch and the honey-like mousse sat on top. BANYULS 1952 fro  Pietri Geruad was actually just released in 2009 and is indeed present vintage. WOW, what a treat.
A trip to The Ledbury without cheese, is indeed like a day without sunshine, so we indulged. We had so many I decided not to take note of each name. Instead I will say that each and everyone was a treat.
Black Currant Leaf Ice Cream came last and since Samuel was not crazy about this they brought him a selection of Mango, Strawberry and Apricot Sorbets.
Dark Chocolate and Juniper Biscuits, Caramel Ganache Biscuits and Jellys arrived in a coconut shell filled with cocoa nubs. I discovered that Samuel had a big bag of Chocolate Truffles for Take-Away when we finally got back to the hotel.
We did not feel full or overburdened by this long and tasty meal; it was indeed simply perfect.
The Ledbury will be missed until we have the chance to return again.