The Ledbury continues to produce very enjoyable food, its cooking modern but with combinations of ingredients that are there to give pleasure rather than to shock or show off kitchen trickery. The tasting menu was priced at £105 per person, while from the a la carte starters were £15 - £17.50, main courses £32 - £34, desserts £9 - £10, with a cheaper four course set lunch at £45.
The tasting menu started with a salad of violet and Chinese artichokes, with grated foie gras, Muscat grapes and hazelnuts. I liked the balance of textures and flavours in the dish, though the artichokes themselves had good rather than dazzling flavour (16/20). Grilled langoustine with pumpkin, mandarin and ginger was a better dish, the langoustine tender and sweet, the mandarin flavour in the sauce offering a hint of acidity (17/20). What is perhaps a signature dish here is flame-grilled mackerel with pickled cucumber, Celtic mustard and shiso (perilla). The mackerel was palpably fresh, perfectly cooked, the mustard offering a touch of heat, the shiso and the pickled cucumber a gentle astringency, the balance excellent (19/20).
Crisp quail egg with chestnuts, cep marmalade and shavings of black truffle was excellent, the richness of the egg going well with the chestnuts, the truffle just lifting the dish (18/20). This was followed by perfectly cooked sea bass with chopped oyster, sake and brassicas. Again the balance of the dish was very good (18/20).
Jowl of pork with walnuts, parsnip and pear was not quite as exciting as I recall from a previous meal, but a very fine dish nonetheless. The pork had deep flavour, the pear adding balancing acidity, the parsnip earthiness and the walnut texture (18/20). The final savoury course was woodcock and snipe, served with poached quince, red leaves and winter vegetables. Game is always a strength of the Ledbury, with its chef being a keen hunter. The birds had excellent flavour, not over gamey, the leaves working well as a balance to the richness of the meat (18/20).
Banana and chocolate malt tartlet was capably made though less to my taste; for me the banana flavour was too strong though the texture was certainly good (16/20). I preferred a rhubarb pre-dessert (17/20). Service was excellent, the German sommelier particularly charming. Although with a tasting menu and wine the bill can be higher, it is still possible to eat three courses here with modest wine for around £90, less if you have the cheap lunch. Given the consistently high standard of food and a wine list that is marked up less than most London restaurants, this seems to me entirely reasonable.
Further reviews: 07th Nov 2012