After a two hour journey across London we arrived and sat at the bar overlooking an open kitchen, which takes up quite a bit of the brick walled room. The kitchen is a full working kitchen rather than a place to plate up in front of guests, with the pastry and amuse bouches being prepared right in front of us. Although I would hate to work under the gaze of my clients, as a punter I enjoyed watching all that went on, from the raw puff pastry for the mille-feuille being prepared at the start of service to the loading of NO2 charger for the mousse during plating up. Behind the central bench was the pass and main cooking area and you get an idea of what was being prepared, and just how many pans are needed for a single plate of food.
The menus gave a choice of a la carte, a tasting menu and 'carte blanche' where you sit back and let chef choose. We went for a vegetarian and non-vegetarian carte blanche menu. The server went over to the chef and he put together something suitable for us, the menu entirely dependent on what was available that day, and can even vary by number of courses if requested. We were then asked if we wanted any hints to what we were having, or if we wanted to leave it a surprise, and opted for the latter.
Canape's arrived first, a tart of smoked haddock and dill, I'd watched the smoked haddock being sliced earlier, the fillet a lovely hue of yellow and white and held a great depth of flavour, foie gras in some razor thin rye, creamy and rich, and a parmesan biscuit, intense with cheese, topped with a tart berry disc. After this the bread was served. I came armed with knowledge of the bread being seriously good here, and as I watched (and more importantly heard) it being sliced right in front of me I knew I was in for a treat. It was indeed as good as you can get, incredible smell, perfect crust, huge depth of flavour and texture, a masterclass in baking. The amuse bouche was small dish of umami flan, a custard flan with a seaweed sauce on top. This was intensely salty,savoury, rich with iodine and the tastes of the sea which I enjoyed, although my wife finished it, wasn't sure if it was her thing.
What can be a better way to celebrate the start of a meal in spring than some of the classic ingredients of the season? Large morels, white asparagus from France and a shaving of green asparagus came with hollandaise, fennel and a sprinkling of cardamon. With a simple dish like this, the ingredients themselves become the star, the providence of their sourcing is evidenced with each mouthful, excellent examples of how vegetables and fungi should taste.
Next up, a wonderfully fresh piece of turbot, this came with crushed smoked potato, a potato skin emulsion and a shavings of the last of the winter truffles. The emulsion had a nice depth of flavour and together with the truffle and potato accompanied the turbot most excellently. My wife had a ducks egg yolk cooked sous vide for 2 hours, a base of the raw/barely blanched green asparagus, more truffle shavings and truffle sauce. The yolk was dense and sticky, coating the fresh bite of asparagus to add a unctuous richness, with the truffle providing a earthy note to the dish.
Following this a single langoustine in a shallot, celery and herb broth. The langoustine was very nice, sweet and juicy with the onion sweet and broth intense. My wife had a lovely looking plate of carrots. The carrot dish was truly excellent, the carrots of exceptional quality, with an interesting foam, the taste of which was familiar but I couldn't identify it with the single taste I had, and really unusual sweet glaze. Although I loved the turbot, the carrots were so damned good I wish I had this instead.
Next up was possibly one of the dishes of the year, Liquid Parmesan Ravioli. A number of ravioli were covered in a frothy horseradish sauce, lemon rind and yet more shavings of truffle. Like the xiaolongbao I've had recently these were best eaten whole due to the liquid parmesan centre. A ravioli, truffle slice and generous helping of sauce were piled on a spoon and what a mouthful it was, the liquid parmesan filling the mouth with a buttery flood of superb, really fantastic quality parmesan. intense with umami, perfumed with the truffle and hint of horseradish and lemon. This was dish of the highest order, both my wife and I adored this course.
The first of the main courses arrived next, for me rack of salt marsh lamb served very rare, baby aubergine, endive and smoked aubergine puree. The lamb was incredibly well flavoured, a prime example of its kind, the sauce distilling the essence of roast lamb into a sticky coating on the pink meat for the perfect bite. The smoky aubergine puree was excellent, and partnered the meat perfectly. My wife had some of the same ingredients, but instead of lamb some lovely ramson (wild garlic) and a garlic sauce. The baby aubergine and endive were brushed with miso and roasted but retained a good crunch, and retained their fresh flavours.
I didn't think anything could top the lamb but my final main was possibly my favourite of the lunch. A huge slice of duck breast, again served very pink was accompanied with beetroot served a number of ways, a puree of red beetroot, roasted golden beetroot, smoky white beetroot and some discs of pickled beetroot. The duck, on its own one of the finest Ive had, came with an offal sauce enriched with foie gras. The sauce was quite rich with liver taste, on its own with the duck it was quite strong, but when combined with the sweet beetroot puree it was absolutely heavenly. Each variation of beetroot gave a distinct but differing addition to each piece of duck, sauce and puree. I loved this dish, especially the way it each element combined to such good effect. My wife did not miss out, with an excellent risotto of watercress, morels and parsley. This was very well cooked risotto, redolent with taste of spring, retaining the peppery kick of watercress and garden fresh parsley throughout, with a welcome return of those superb morels.
We were asked if we wanted cheese and a dessert or two desserts and went for two desserts, although the cheese courses were being prepared in front of us and a number of excellent cheeses were available.
The first dessert was variations of lemon, a lemon sorbet, a meringue square topped with mousse, gel and some lemon thyme leaves. Again sourcing proves itself, with superb lemons being used and all elements providing a wonderful palate cleansing effect. The second dessert was chocolate dish, a bowl with some passion fruit sauce was filled with a warm chocolate mousse from a NO2 charger, this was topped with some discs of chocolate biscuit that had been covered with raspberry powder, on top of this a quenelle of vanilla ice cream. The warm chocolate mousse was incredibly light but rich with chocolate, the raspberry astonishingly well flavoured, intensely tart and holding the raspberry taste even against the superbly rich mousse. The vanilla in the ice cream again was of high quality matching well with the other elements. This was a very special pudding, we both really enjoyed this and one of the best chocolate desserts I've had. Finally, with some very good filter coffee blend some petit fours, a bergamot marshmallow, a exceedingly good financier and an outstanding vanilla and mango macaron.
Hedone really does live up to its reputation, proving that if you source the best ingredients and produce available you can serve these precisely cooked and in clever recipes, achieve world class dishes and create a destination for anyone who loves their food. Both vegetarian and non-vegetarian menus were packed with excellent dishes, and very generous portions too, no finger sized morsels of meat for my mains! My praise for each course came with best kind of proof, the plates wiped almost shiny clean with some of the wonderful bread to be had. It's only a pity I live so far away, or I'd be joining the regulars sitting each side of us at the bar in visiting as often as I could. Service was great too, with knowledgeable, attentive and friendly staff. The bill came to £277.
Asparagus, morels, hollandaise.
Turbot, smoked potato, potato skin emulsion, truffle.
Duck egg yolk, asparagus, truffle.
Liquid Parmesan Ravioli.
Salt marsh lamb, baby aubergine, endive, miso, smoked aubergine puree.
Ramson, baby aubergine, endive, miso, smoked aubergine puree.
Duck, beetroot, offal sauce.
Watercress, parsley and morel risotto.
Warm chocolate mousse, raspberry and chocolate ring, vanilla ice cream.