The Ledbury, London 03-2012

I hadn't actually heard of The Ledbury until a friend made a booking on our behalf. I didn't realise that it was ranked 29 in the World Top 50 for 2011 making it London's highest rated restaurant. To be honest since I hadn't spent much time researching or reading about it, I wasn't overly excited about going despite the reputation.

In a rather quiet road in Notting Hill at 930pm it seemed an unusual time to be preparing for a large degustation, but minimal daytime food prepared our stomachs.

We started with a light snack (seaweed cracker with savoury cream, roe & dill - correct me if I've remembered incorrectly) as a nice salty way to kick off the evening, followed by the first formal course Amuse Bouche (kataifi quail egg, chestnut puree & shaved truffles) - delicious, fantastic.

The menu rolled on as such:
- Cornish Oyster Chantilliy & Tartare with Horseradish & Dill
- Flame Grilled Mackerel with Smoke Eel, Celtic Mustard & Shiso (the best dish by far, uniting flavours of the world in each beautiful mouthful)
- Hand Rolled Macaroni Stuffed with Rabbit & Celery with a Veloute of Toasted Hay & Truffle (any excuse for truffles)
- Roast Cod with Crab, Pinenuts, Cauliflower & Blood Orange (quality cod, excellent crab salad. The raw cauliflower slices seemed odd and out of place)
- Berkshire Muntjac Slow Cooked Shoulder with Parsnip, Apple & Juniper (nice flavours but not as tender as I'd expect from slow cooking)
- Berkshire Muntjac Loin with White Beetroot, Red Wine Lees & Bone Marrow (wonderful cooked meats in different styles, the rare slices being my favourite.
- Pre-Dessert (burnt meringue, mango sorbet - of what I remember)
- Caramelised Banana Galette with Salted Caramel, Peanut Oil Parfait (galette was average, parfait with peanuts was wonderfully sweet, refreshing and creamy-crunchy end)
- Petit Four (chocolate ganache, macaron, jelly cube - all too sweet for my liking)

Overall I liked the food; but I found the Flame Grilled Mackerel to be the only course that made me think this is different, incredible and delicious. To their credit, all dishes tasted between the spectrum of good-to-great and none were declared plain nor strange. You are guaranteed to eat well here and £105 is extremely reasonable.

Next time I would order still the tasting menu. Considering a 3 course is £80 and the tasting menu is £105, you're getting much more diversity for a small additional price. The Flame Grilled Mackeral is otherwise the only dish I would without-a-doubt order again.

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Dinner by Heston Blumenthal, London 03-2012

Excitement was high when booking London's biggest restaurant opening of 2011. After my experience at The Fat Duck in 2009, this was probably my most anticipated place when food reading about London.

Between 6 of us, we managed to try much of the menu. Excellent quality bread whet our appetites (the white being tastier than the wholemeal) before the entree procession started. The overwhelming favourite was the famous Meat Fruit (mandarin, chicken liver parfait & grilled bread) - a splendid presentation of the creamiest parfait (similar to pate) with a delicate sweetness. Simply superb. My other favourite was the Savoury Porridge (roast cod palette, smoked beetroot, garlic, parsley & fennel) - a warm tasty almost-risotto like dish with fantastic flavour. My colleagues were also struck by the Rice & Flesh (saffron, calf tail, red wine). We also tried the Buttered Crab Loaf (crab, cucumber, pickled lemon, herring roe & stone crop) which had good crab flavour but nothing especially unusual.

My main was the Black Foot Pork Chop (spelt, Iberico ham hock & Robert sauce). Honestly my pork chop was surprisingly tough and I wouldn't order it again, but the spelt risotto and pork crackling side with it was gluttonously tasty. I sampled some of the Powdered Duck (smoked confit fennel & umbles) which was a sensationally tender piece of rare duck (apologies about the photo). My company also tried the Cod in Cider (chard & fired mussels) which had the expectedly seafood punchiness and Spiced Pigeon (Ale & artichokes) which they didn't really comment particularly on. The Triple Cooked Chips (specially request them if you aren't getting steak) were the texturally best I've had - supremely crisp housing a moist core.

Desserts were the Tipsy Cake (spit roast pineapple), Taffety Tart (apple, rose, fennel & vanilla ice cream) and Chocolate Bar (passionfruit jam & ginger ice cream). My favourite was by far the Tipsy Cake which was basically a juicy sponge accompanied by tasty grilled pineapple.

Next time I would order an entree of Savoury Porridge (for myself) and/or Meat Fruit (to share) and try the main of Wing Rib of Aberdeen Angus for 2. The waiter told us outright the Hereford Ribeye was simply "steak and chips" so I think the Wing Rib would be more impressive (granted it is for 2 people and more than double the price).

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Meursault, London 03-2012

As this place is only a couple of weeks old, coming here made me feel at the front of London's eating scene. The Japanese-inspired addition to l'etranger revealed a sophisticated bar and a stunning dining room designed by a 30 year old Italian artist. I spent a good 15 minutes waiting for my company to arrive just admiring the ceiling.

Molecular mixology came in the form of 'Bang Bang You Shot Me Down' - three liquid nitrogren crumbled sorbet Mojitos layered above wild blueberry/raspberry/strawberry compote and topped with caramel carbonated sprinkle (aka pop rocks).

Food highlights were the Crab & Lobster mayo mini-burgers - tasty shredded crab and lobster chunks served with a rich cheese sauce. The lamb burger was also good, but both beef burgers seemed quite uneventful.

Tuna with osetra caviar had a little too much soy, but gave me enough to realise they have good quality fish (we didn't try any sashimi, but the platter served over dry ice looked fantastic).

Off the a la carte menu, the standout for me was clearly Pan Fried Foie Gras, Cinnamon & Date Pudding, with Yuzu infused Endive & Lagavulin Chocolate Ice-cream. This harmony of flavours and textures was one of my favourites - fatty salty foie gras, heavy sweet pudding, sour endive and chocolate sauce (effectively). Note that none of my company liked the combination, but I thought it was sensational.

We also tried the Abalone & Foie Gras Toban Yaki (excellent quality abalone and foie gras - can't go wrong), Charolais Beef Ribeye Steak (nicely cooked tender meat, but nothing out of the ordinary), Sea Bass, Nori & Asparagus Tempura with Truffled Ponzu Sauce (tasty, but again nothing special) and Miso Grilled Aubergine with Ponzu & Aubergine Caviar (plain grilled slice of aubergine with a miso dipping sauce - good sauce, standard aubergine).

The wide range of sorbets and macaroons (with the exception of salted caramel) were nothing special to me, although next time I'll try the formal dessert and salted caramel ice-cream (they didn't have any that evening)

Next time I would order definitely the platter of 3 Crab & Lobster mayo mini-burgers and Pan Fried Foie Gras, with consideration to the Foie Gras/Abalone only if I had people to share the foie gras with. I would also be interested to try the Caramelised Alaskan Baked Cod with Miso (and compare it to Nobu's) and Grade 9 Wagyu tartare.