GFG archives

Through the archives: Brett Graham at The Ledbury, first entry
Published 22 August 2022

A blazingly talented chef who cooks with vigour, authority and audacious brio, Brett Graham has been hailed as a pioneer in the development of British modernism – delivering the kind of cooking that saw The Ledbury (which opened in 2005) catapulted into the first division of London dining. The restaurant closed in 2020 when Covid-19 restrictions made it too difficult to operate, but it reopened, relatively quietly, in February 2022. Here, we look at its earliest entry to the Guide in 2007, with inspectors hailing a ‘superbly judged’ raviolo of crab and a meat dish that proved to be a ‘lesson in balance’.

The Good Food Guide 2007

The residents of Notting Hill may have to pay one hell of a premium for their houses, but at least they can walk to this gem of a restaurant, the newest in the stable that includes the Square, Chez Bruce, La Trompette (see entries, London), and the Glasshouse (see entry, Kew). The frontage is hidden away behind a wall of shrubbery, beyond which lurks a surprisingly sizeable outdoor eating space. Inside, the room achieves an easy balance of sophistication and unpretentious urban chic, with smartly set (and well-spaced) tables in an airy, high-ceilinged room with large windows. Brett Graham shows his colours early on with impressive bread - bacon and onion brioche, for example - and an amuse-bouche of brandade with cauliflower purée laced with a few shavings of white truffle. Loin of tuna with radish and soy might come as a pre-starter for those not choosing it as a first course, and it's not one to miss out on either way, the fish, seared on the outside, with perfect colour within, given a South-east Asian flavour by judicious use of soy and sprouting shoots. Raviolo of crab is 'bursting at the seams' with white meat, razor clams adding texture, the flavour of lemongrass permeating the velvety sauce with an understated ease; 'superbly judged,' summed up one recipient. Combinations are uniformly successful and inventive: scallops with pumpkin purée or roasted in liquorice, for example. A main-course squab is roasted with juniper, orange and pepper (the legs given the extra time they require), accompanied by a smear of carrot and verjus purée - 'a lesson in balance' - and joined by a tarte fine of endive, glistening with caramelisation. Fish seems to elicit fewer raptures than meat dishes, but John Dory has been as fresh as can be and comes with a fine combination of caramelised onions and sautéed potatoes in a wine reduction. The kitchen delivers acute technical skills in so many areas it is no surprise that chocolate soufflé with malted milk ice cream should prove a 'perfect' version, served with a small jug of chocolate sauce to pour, self-service, into the centre. Sauternes cream with apricots and vanilla cream was summed up by one diner as 'utterly stupendous and hugely refreshing'. Service receives plaudits again this year, for its ease, its charm, and general professionalism from top to bottom. The good range of wines by the glass and half-bottle is useful, given that bottle prices start at around £16 and then head upwards at a pace. It's a serious list, though, big on Burgundy and Bordeaux, California showing strongly, and plenty of red Tuscans.