The Ledbury

127 Ledbury Road, Notting Hill, London W11 2AQ - 020 7792 9090

"The" top ten, top fifty, top hundred, they are all subjective. One critics number three is another gourmands number fifty, such as my stand out experience at Hibiscus far and beyond blew Per Se out of the water. Rankings aside last Saturday was all about the bloggers and the critics favourite, and in brackets number 34th best in the world, The Ledbury.

The food hails from the talents of Aussie born chef Brett Graham and team, who have embraced the classic techniques of the French, conquered then contorted  them using the best of British and also stretching to further in the continent. With regular flourishes of own shot partridge to hand picked edible flowers, delivering the best is in the veins of the team who have mostly been there from the beginning or are returning alumni.

A swift exchange of coats and warm smiles later we were settled into a comfortable corner of the moodily lit and luxuriously draped room, ready for the show to begin. First up was our second welcome and the menus, shortly after one of the two amuse bouches; a wafer thin saucer of black sesame pastry filled a tart jam encased in foie gras, a little mouthful of pure sumptuousness.
Once we had navigated our way through the menu and placed our orders we were treated to a delicate quails egg which oozed onto the truffle shavings and pushed its way through the angel hair casing. Our appetites were well and truly whetted, we watched fervently on at the other tables as their murmurs quietened as new rounds of dishes were brought out to gleaming eyes. Never fear, the bread basket arrives, and we happily tuck into some melt in the mouth mini brioches with bacon pieces. 

We were dining en force, three bases covered out of the five potentials and each as individual as they looked. The flame grilled mackerel had such a pure taste which was complimented further with the dressing of Celtic mustard and shiso, another clean pocket of flavour came from the parcel of smoked eel with translucent pickled cucumber skin.
 I opted for the breast of partridge which was super tender and sweet but served as textural and flavour contrast to the salty confit leg. Whilst in the mouth both were mellowed by the silken chestnut puree and as you delved in deeper sunflower seeds added a crunch and pops of intense savoury came from the slither of Iberian ham.
The column of rabbit lasagne stood proud but was only one pierce away from its contents cascading into the toasted hay froth and swirled puddle of girolle pureé below, the meaty nuggets and glorious jus were to flavourful too be contained by the fragile pasta partition. As with all the dishes and mouthfuls so far we were astonished at how defined each flavour was, how each element on its on was stunning but the sum of all of them was pure culinary harmony.

I love the theatrics of fine dining. Each dish is elaborately introduced and then received with as much excitement and wonder as a first born being presented to its new family. In the case of the main of the cheek and jowl of pork it clocked up a double round of admirable coos. Firstly it was brought out as it was cooked, speared with licorice and steeped in spice, then whisked away to be reassembled to an edible work of art for a well deserved second round of admiration. Perhaps in another establishment this may have been seen as a pretentious act  however there was not a whiff of snootiness instead it was a sincere display of the chef's eagerness to please the crowd and to give an insight into his craft from his side. But as with  all that exits from Graham's kitchen meticulous attention to detail only starts with the appearance, the true beauty comes from the cohesive mix of flavours and textures. For example the decagon carrot slices add a delicacy to the dish visually but also serve as a juxtaposition to the intensity of the black pudding. Altogether you get succulent pork, exquisite crackling a hit of deep dark crumble, a kiss of sweet carrots and soothing spiced cream.
Pork 1: Soaked and cooked with spices and speared with licorice
Pork 2: Cheek and Jowl with Young Carrots and Black Pudding Crumble
With turf covered by my starter I went for supreme surf for my main, in the form of native Lobster with broccoli stems, natural yogurt and Indian spices in brown butter. Four generous pieces of the king crustacean was everything to be expected, succulent and flavourful, added warmth and roundness of flavour from the pepped up butter but what did take me by surprise was the broccoli. The power of expert hands can make the most pedestrian of ingredients stars of the plate, and this is said with no intention of belittling the florets of green. The stems were exceptionally juicy yet still fibrous and the deconstructed tops were deep fried and scattered to add another textural twist - never could I have imagined broccoli to steal the limelight.
The Lamb like all previous protein based dishes was a plate of two tales, cleverly proving that despite being from the same beast one cut is never the same as another. What separated the shoulder from the loin was twenty five hours of slow cooking, resulting in the highest degree of tenderness and lusciousness. The roasted aubergine had candied skin and a velvety inside, but the green tomato juice cut through all the richness with its unadulterated concentration of freshness.
Pre sweet sweet came in the form of a dainty tumbler filled with surprisingly light olive oil panna cotta, mango and white chocolate granita. Gone in two swift mouthfuls. Other treats included a caramelised banana galette with passionfruit, peppered with peanut oil and salted caramel. True to form I dived straight for the chocolate option which was in the form of an intense pavé with a subtle milk purée and lovage ice cream that tasted like the sort of iced treat a grazing sheep may enjoy, fresh and punchy, just what was needed to break up the dark chocolate. Finally, we come to the brown sugar tart, unlike the name it was not overly sweet but echoed caramelised smoky notes, served with muscat grapes and creamy stem ginger ice cream. An unlikely hero of the meal, but it was a true triumph, displaying a masterful balancing of flavours whilst not overtly decadent but certainly moreish.
I always think it's a bit of a faff to book months in advance for a meal but for restaurants it acts as a good indicator for how in demand they are, besides it also gives me time to find the perfect eating dress! I booked our table back at the start of summer which was proof of how loved this restaurant is and continues to be, with extremely good reason to be. There have been countless rounds of applause for all at the leafy Notting Hill corner, for their ideas, execution and continuous efforts to redefine their best and from my experience all well deserved. From the very first bite of the black sesame cup piped with foie gras to the last of the petit fours, a home made salt caramel the Ledbury team, front of house and kitchen delivered a flawless service and the pitch perfect fine dining show. Bravo!
Nothing sweetens up your mood when the bill arrives
than a box of petit fours in a vintage chocolate box!

The Ledbury on Urbanspoon


Four Fashion Tales: SS12

3 .1  P H I L I P  L I M
Astounded. Yes, I was by this collection, not purely because each look exuded the wearability factor but because it was executed in a unique way. There were echoes of shows past, present and future with pastel combinations, contrast double bonded and plasticised fabrics but all with underlying lux sportswear tones. Each element had been honed in and shaped to the 3.1 format of laid back urban elegance - a winning combination everytime.

Muiccia's take on 50's felt familiar but fresh, a successful amalgamation of girl versus boy (and his toys.) Girly chalky pastels were framed with lipstick red and jet black as you would find on  a T bird's cadillac convertible. The feminine shilouette was true throughout but a little more risqué  with cropped bandeau pairings. Tough guy whiffs came from the boxy elongated harringtons and flaming wheel motifs but the bottom line was the lady is behind the wheel with additions of rhinestone panels and colour clash lace.

What we saw in Paris was a show of contradictions, that challenged us to look a little bit deeper and beyond. This was channelled through the folk floral embroidery that was morphed into swirls as well as sheathed in organza, and the merging of dissected structure and softness but also as the designer himself weaved round the crowd posed as a waiter! Unexpected panels appeared like meaningful windows and prints were broken up with blocks of brights, with colours mirrored in the footwear. 

Each season Karl's creations are an essential in fashion week viewing, despite this and how much I love of the drama of a Chanel show I sometimes get a bit lost during the middle. This season however I was mouth agape and heart thumping more so with each look. Fantasmical colour palette; pastels muddled with murkier deep sea tones and sharpened with the classic Chanel monochrome. Then softened again by a peach kiss with the edge kept with clears and shimmery metallics. It was a dreamy collection of intricate fabrics threaded through the classic tweed but then embellished with a splash of sequins or corners encrusted with scale like discs. Another success in refreshing the parameters of modern femininty.


Alternative Monday

Recently I came across Eric Cahan's Sky Series and fell in love with the magical colours he captures at sunrise and sunset. I also found this picture of a 90s BMW customised by South African painter Esther Mahlangu, I'm sure you would agree that it is nothing short of rad! But now I can't stop thinking of driving into the pastel inked sunset in it and leaving the autumn chill behind!



Final day of the week, so its comfort all the way...
Floral piped neck maxi - Vintage
Satchel bag - Mulberry
Various necklaces as previously
Spanish Tortilla and Garden Salad
Just a few more salad leaves left in the garden as the chill is getting to the, so bulked this up with some chicory and green lentils with a lemon vinegrette and a little homemade tomato salsa. And from dinner we had a tortilla with chorizo, tomatoes, red bell peppers and lots of red onion - really just a very deep omlette with potatoes, but so tasty!


Oversized Grey Marl Tee - Andrews
Animal Rolled Up Ski Pants - Leeds yard sale
Studded Slippers -Topshop
Necklaces: Gold band / Bronze chain / Bird Skull
both H&M and from NY boutique (think it was in Red Hook)

Yellow Lentil Curry
I ended up freestyling this one, toasting off some spices like cumin, green cardomom and pepper corns then smushing it all down with some ginger and garlic. Cooked this down with the lentils and some defrosted chicken stock, I also added shaven off corn kernels for a sweet crunch and a lonely sweet potato I had lying around. Served with some rice and brown lentils for a bit of bite and lime for zing!



Oversized Check Jacket - Chazza Shop (P.S check out the shoulders and this is minus pads!)
White Tee - Urban Outfitters
Navy Turn Ups - Topshop
Nude Lattice Sandals - Topshop
Necklace - H&M

Green Spaghetti
This is an easy peasy dinner and still great the next day. Inspired by a Matthew Fort recipe that uses purple sprouting brocolli, minus sauce and replaced with good olive oil, I have replaced the broc wit heaps of other fresh greens and a good whack of parmesan. I opted for freshly potted peas, grated through courgette and spinach, then for a lunchy addition my favourite rocket. And heaps of ground pepper.



Collared jersey shirt - Topshop
Oxblood metallic loose knit - H&M
Pleat shorts - H&M
Platform black boots - Zara
Camel Clutch - Vintage
Coin cluster gold ring - treasured hand me down from Mum

Sumac Chicken and Pumpkin Rice
One of my favourite cookbooks or series of is the Moro ones, and both of these hail from those pages.
Last nights dinner of simple chicken thighs pan fried and finished in the oven with sumac (deep raspberry in colour and lemony in taste) and pine nuts, then slightly more effort needed for the a pumpkin and basmati mixture drizzled with saffron infused butter but well worth it, bit of lettuce too for one more ticked of veg portion for the day.



For those of you who have just tuned in, for a week each month I do a little diary of my work outfits and packed lunches. Every Monday I feel the need to expel all evil weekend toxins so have opted for a super healthy roast veg salad and with the last glimmer of summer warmth I went mildly tropical in dress!

Tropical tee - Topshop
Belt - Car Boot Sale
Super washed denim peg legs - Philippine thrift store
Tassled Toes - Russell & Bromley
Acid wash denim jacket - Dad's

Stuffed Roasted Pepper Salad
Halved peppers roasted with tomoatoes, basil, garlic and parmesan shavings on a bed of rocket and scatterings of sesame, pumpkin seeds and lentils, oh and drizzled with a light lemon vinegrette.


Fancy Footing

I apologise profusely for being terribly slack, I have only house hunting and bad time management to blame. Not to fear, with all the shows entertaining you I will be rounding up my faves and some new tasty things I would like to also share with you extremely soon!

In the meantime I will leave you with my infamously dubbed "bread feet," named after their shamedly wide nature, on the exciting new Topshop Tumblr. If wide feet are not your thing do not fear as there new collection preview shots, street style pics and some of us office girls in our daily garms!