Thursday, July 7, 2011

London Restaurants (2): The Ledbury; The Gilbert Scott; J Sheeky

The Ledbury
The Ledbury has developed a world wide reputation and I must say that after this experience, I agree it is well deserved. Head Chef and co-owner Brett Graham comes from Australia but has lived in the UK, for the best part of his life.

I began with an amuse bouche, ginger nut biscuit topped with foie gras mousse and sprinkled with crumbled biscuit and chopped chives. Crispy biscuit, mild ginger flavour a perfect foil for the rich foie gras.

The bread plate arrived with a wonderfully light caramelized onion and bacon brioche with a lovely brown crisp skin. The bread was presented with one of most delicious butters I have tasted, rich with delicate grass flavours. When one sees this quality of butter at table one knows that this chef is a seeker with a highly discriminating palate who cares about his craft.

Hampshire buffalo milk curd immersed in grilled onion broth with a few small sprigs of dill, enoki mushrooms accompanied by saint nectaire cheese spread on Poulaine toast, sprinkled with grated black summer truffles. The toast was mounted on pine branches all on a wooden platter.

Hertford snails wrapped in a citrus mousseline of wild herbs and garlic, topped with a celeriac disc, surrounded by a roasted cep jus with diced cep. All of these flavours well complemented the earthy taste if the snails.

Ceviche of hand dived scallops, seaweed and herb oil, pickled kohlrabi, small tapioca like apple jelly beads and frozen horseradish. The sweet scallop, mildly tart apple combines well with the contrasting mild, very cold horseradish.

Roast turbot with wild garlic puree, morels and morel jus accompanied by parmesan gnocchi. Wonderful flavours but the gnocchi were the only miss and could have been more delicate\lighter.

Pork cheeks cooked in pedro ximenez sherry with crispy crackling, a puree of jersey royal potatoes, peas, bacon and summer truffle.

Loin of roe deer baked in douglas fir was presented mounted on douglas fir branches on a wooden platter then served with beet root, potato galette, smoked bone marrow, Banyuls sauce and a very gamey tasting venison sausage that went very well with the deer meat.

The presentation

The plate

Mackerel, avocado puree, pickled cucumber, fried leeks and a cucumber jelly "parcel" filled with a mackerel tartar and small chunks of avocado. Perfectly cooked mackerel, nice crispy skin, mildly lemony avocado puree, all beautifully enhanced by the pickled cucumber and fried leeks. Along the side of the plate is some cumin dust just barely there but another punchy counterpoint further expanding the harmonious range of flavours for this dish.

Pave of chocolate with milk puree brulee and lovage ice cream. Lovage ice cream and dark chocolate, a wonderful marriage!

Whipped ewe's milk yogurt with wild strawberries, frozen strawberry ice\sable crumble and verbena meringue.
What I noticed most about this chef’s technique and sensibilities is the harmony that he brings to the various flavours and textures presented with each dish. Based on this experience, I highly recommend The Ledbury.

The Gilbert Scott

The Gilbert Scott Restaurant is in an historic, visually spectacular landmark building. It is a restaurant owned and supervised by one of london's great chefs, Marcus Waring. The menu is composed of dishes inspired by the comfort food that originated in the late 19th and early 20th century and given a current touch.

A forcemeat of ground bacon, olives, pork and herbs accompanied by endive and shallot salad mixed with a mustard dressing. Looks and tastes like slices of good sausage, well paired with endive and shallots. 

Lake district rib of beef for 2 with coarse sea salt, bone marrow and red wine sauce. This is wonderful beef, perhaps the best beef I have tasted in Europe since my trip to Spain when Martin Berasetegui introduced me to the very finest Gallician beef. The beef arrived perfectly rare with a very thin, char seared crust. It was accompanied by a very good sauce but the sauce did nothing to enhance the beef. The beef was better off enjoyed on it's own!

Cauliflower pudding baked with nutmeg and cream had small chunks of cauliflower immersed in a very thick cauliflower cream. The flavour of the nutmeg, much needed, was lost. 

Colcannon, hispi cabbage, young leeks, crushed potato. This was the only dish I felt failed. Overly thick and gooey in texture, none of the food elements had any presence. It was an overly salted rather tasteless hodgepodge.

Sage and onion paxo (stuffing) was like eating traditional thanksgiving stuffing without the bird. I enjoyed it now as much as my own seasonal rendition.

Yorkshire puddings with gravy were ok, but were a healthier modern take on the roasted beef fat enriched, venerable traditional version, which I expected and might have preferred (just this once).

Eccles cake with cheddar cheese ice cream was quite fantastic. A wonderful light and crispy crust encased a very traditional, mildly tart, minced meat filling.

Bakewell tart, almonds, cherry jam, jersey cream was not a tart, nor accompanied by liquid cream as I expected. Rather, I received a dollop of whipped cream with an almond cake that had a strong marzipan flavour.

J Sheeky

At J Sheeky we enjoyed the following dishes: Wonderful finely chopped creamed spinach; marinated arctic herring with dill sauce accompanied by chopped potato with parsely and dill; fantastic herring roe fried in butter with a texture like sweetbreads, served on buttered toast with capers. 

Jersey Royals, the best regional potato of the season.

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