Husband played a New Year's Eve gig this year, and stashed the cash away for an occasion just such as this AND we emptied our money egg. Between those two things, we had *almost* enough money for our Ledbury tea :-)
We were both massively looking forward to it - husband didn't even make too big a fuss about trekking over to West London...
We opted for the tasting menu (obviously) and the matching wines.
We drank glasses of champagne (2000 Taittinger B de B - v tasty) to start with, and they brought us these tasty little niblets to whet our appetite.
They were kind of squid ink crackers with little blobs of creamy fishy goodness and roe - proper tasty.
We also got our own wee (not *that* wee, actually) loaf of sourdough bread (which husband maintains that we should have pocketed the remains of).
And an amazing roll selection, from which we both greedily scarfed the bacon brioches, which were not unlike fluffy, bacon chelsea buns (definitely an idea I shall be following up on soon).
Then we were into the 'tasting menu proper', with an amuse bouche of a kind of scrunchily coated scotch quails egg on top of some truffly, ceppy stuff. Very nice with the dregs of our champagne.
The first of the starters was next - pretty chantilly oysters with an additional deep fried oyster and a horseradish tartare. And a long crispy thing.
This might have been my favourite course of the evening.
We had a glass of 2012 Alvarinho to accompany this.
Another fish dish followed - flame grilled mackerel with smoked eel, celtic mustard and shiso, with which we drank a 2010 Gruner Veltliner. The mackerel was lovely and barbecuey, and the little mustardy parcel was amazing.
I don't always love Gruner Veltliner - it can be a bit perfumed for my taste, but I liked the match here - I'm definitely going to give it another go at home.
The next dish was a two parter, and another candidate for dish of the day. A buffalo milk curd with truffle toast and an onion broth.
This was basically a junket (a dish from my childhood - I said this to husband and he had absolutely no idea what I meant, but I'm pretty sure that I haven't just made it up) and some toast, but it really was absolutely delicious - it was so truffley and ceppy - really really good.
And the truffle toast was served on a crazy log :-)
We drank a New Zealand Chardonnay with this - nicer than I was expecting and a superbly good match again - a good foil for the big flavours.
The last of the (nominal) starters was this fillet of brill with crab, cauliflower and blood orange. Both of us really love cauliflower and it really was tasty.
It's not always an easy thing to match with wine, I think - it's a very specific flavour. We drank a Condrieu here, which, with its high perfumey viogner content isn't necessarily something I'd expect to love, though, in this case, I really did.
The first main course (and red wine) was this muntjac (who I correctly surmised, is a small deer) with pear, parsnip and juniper. Now, I do NOT love parsnip, but these were made into nice crispies, which definitely helped the situation. The meat was delicious and the fruitiness and contrasting textures made this a really good experience. We drank Triennes from Provence (ish), which was kind of rustic-but-refined, and just what I'd want with game.
Pigeon with rhubarb (yum) and foie gras - what more can I say - really lovely - and so very pretty.
Served with a Swartland Rhone-blend type red - I am a fan of South African wine, and this kind of thing is the reason why.
And - it came with bonus cutlery - with an (extremely poorly photographed) bird on it.
At this stage we broke menu and snapped up the cheese course when the man came round with the trolley. I usually have slightly mixed feelings about trolleys and things - they seem terribly dated, somehow, but it was nice to be able to see (and sniff) all the cheeses before making our selection and the cheese man was delightfully enthusiastic.
We chose a lovely selection, which we both really enjoyed (and husband finds cheese quite difficult generally). We washed it down with a tasty beer.
The cheese came with what were described as 'side plates' which were both enormous and also lovely enough to photograph :-)
We moved onto pudding at this stage. And they confiscated the remainder of our sourdough. Husband was right - we should have pocketed it while we had the chance!
Our pre dessert was this orangey little number.
I remember that I liked this a lot and that husband wasn't wild about it, but, tragically, I don't remember much else. I should have written this sooner!
And then, finally, the dessert (we had been eating for some gluttonous hours, by this point). It was this banana, galette, peanut, salty caramel extravaganza (on the lovely plates again). I wouldn't normally order a banana dessert, but this one was really just the job.
We drank a sweet but not too sweet soave (which I would definitely investigate again in future).
And then, because we evidently hadn't eaten *quite* enough, we finished off with these beautiful petit fours.
On a bed of cocoa nibs.
I obviously (and in a pre agreed fashion) broke my Lenten resolution at this point and ate not only the petit fours, but a fair whack of the cocoa nibs too :-)
In fact, as can be seen here, we even ate a couple of them before we remembered to take the photograph.
So, we waddled home, reflecting on our Ledburian experience.
It was easily the most expensive meal we've ever eaten. I have no regrets about it at all. The tasting menu was fun and delicious and the matching wines only added to the experience (I honestly don't understand people who don't do the wine matching - there is no way that one, or even two, bottles of wine could properly compliment all of the foods we ate - lots of people when we were there seemed to be trying to do this, and it all looked, well, slightly disappointing).
The decor and ambience were lovely and laid back and the service was top notch - informative and helpful, but without being too formal or intimidating. Special mention here goes to the delightful sommelier, who, latterly, on finding that we were enjoying the wines, got us to blind taste them all before coming back and explaining, which was a super-fun game.
The only minor criticism we had (or husband noted) was that there was a little bit of possible upselling from the staff - they recommended us a (top price) champagne before we'd seen the list (though I'd actually looked on the interwebs beforehand, so wasn't *totally* blind on that one), and did a good sell on the cheese course (which carried a supplement, which we did know about), though I'm not sure that I'd have altered any of my decisions without this.
And maybe they just reckoned that if you were rich enough to be eating there in the first place, then you would want to be recommended the best things!
I would recommend this to anyone who was feeling flush, though - a really amazing experience. If I could, I would definitely go back.
127 Ledbury Road
Notting Hill, London
Notting Hill, London