Over the past few years I have been fortunate enough to eat in some of London's best restaurants, Hedone is one of them. The words below were written over this period and were often difficult to conjure as the restaurant, as all good ones are, are challenging to say the least. I don't like to be critical as the chefs in the kitchen are putting themselves out on a plate. I enjoyed all my meals at this restaurant and love gazing across the bar into the small and almost suburban kitchen watching the juxtaposition of the stress and toil with the outward organised calmness of the chefs.
Summer time in London 2015.
I had looked forward to my third visit to Hedone for the past few weeks, since arriving back in London, a planned meeting of Australian friends. Yet I found myself instead of being cosied up in the dining room of Hedone, on the Chiswick High Street, I was standing on Pond Street NW3 outside Marks and Spencer's becoming more and more frantic, on hold to a car service whilst simultaneously trying to find an empty London taxi. On any other day of the week this would have been quite simple to get a car across London but when the tube goes on strike for 24 hours moving around London becomes a herculean task. After forty minutes on hold and constant emails from my dining companions I called it quits and headed across the road to the Garden Gate Pub for a glass of Rioja and a steak. A rather different meal to the one imagined yet satisfying all the same.
"The only source of knowledge is experience".
Thankfully, I have had the pleasure to visit this London restaurant on two other occasions. On both occasions I have been impressed by the creativity, and yet simplicity of the food. Yet, as the needy diner I am, I want more. Not that the food is bad, quite the opposite. Its just that I know that more is possible. Hedone cooks some of the best food in London, yet still feels slightly awkward almost lacking confidence. Like a schoolboy on his first date. The menu feels slightly ad-lib which I love and on both occasions I wasn't sure what was next or where in fact we were was going. The challenge of this type of food is true focus and discipline of menu building. The building of textures, flavours and complexities of the menu is needed. Each dish is a single brush stroke in the overall masterpiece. Its fine to act as the mad hatter but well crafted menus require discipline, focus and experience, with just a touch of the hatter. Compare this to the self assured food, of say the Ledbury or Fera, where the food and menu shows experience and concise direction. It is as if the food isn't trying to impress you but does anyway, something which takes years of practice to master.
However, all that aside I loved the food at Hedone.
To illustrate two of the best dishes that I have had from this kitchen were a dish of Sea Bass and one of aged beef. Both deceptively simple.
The sea bass was simply grilled and served with a small pile of fantastic artichokes, and drizzle of veal jus finished with clementine juice and rind. The fish was succulent, unctuous and perfectly cooked offset with perfect vegetables and sauce. Simple. Ditto with the steak on a previous visit. The best dry aged beef, sous vide heritage carrots and a reduced red wine sauce. So simple yet the flavours just sung.
The beef was brought out into the kitchen its fat yellow and the meat looking like a rock. Dry aged for 100 days I was told that this particular animal was thirteen years old and had come from a breeder in Spain. Quite an old beast when you consider the age of most animals in the butchers shop are still on the wrong side of adolescence. The joint was expertly broken down in front of me, cooked and served. The meat was moist and tender with a touch of enjoyable chewiness, the flavour was full and beefy but without any hint of the dreaded blue cheese that can come with extended dry ageing of meat. Still the thing that I remember most from this dish was the carrots. Heirloom yellow carrots that were cooked sous vide and so full of flavour that they tasted more of carrot than a carrot.
Please enjoy the photographs as much as I enjoyed the food.