Seamus Williams-Sharkey’s sharp list at Notting Hill’s The Ledbury has clearly been fondly assembled, showing loyalty to producers he has met.
The Ledbury has achieved international renown in an area of London which has become, thanks to it, Core by Clare Smyth, and Emily Roux’s Caractère, a dining destination. The sommelier is Seamus Sharkey, a keen surveyor of the global dining scene who oversees a sharp list recording producers he has taken time to meet – and sometimes even blend wine with. Helpfully, as with food menus, wine prices include service. Whilst there’s interest between £40-50 per bottle (Muscadet, Vouvray, Givry and Montsant), one suspects given the persistence needed to realise a reservation at the chic reinvention of what was the Duke of Cambridge pub, most diners will be prepared to pump in greater budgets, perhaps going so far as to start their lunch with a rare terroir-led Champagne (Ulysse Collin).
Midlands-raised Sharkey began his hospitality career at Dormy House in the Cotswolds, continuing to The Nut Tree Inn, Oxfordshire and Solihull’s Hampton Manor. Prior to joining The Ledbury Sharkey was head sommelier at Restaurant Story.
Suavely realised by acclaimed Australian, Brett Graham (who raises his own deer) and Guildford born head chef, Jake Leach (formerly of Fera), dishes continue to be well-spaced, beautiful and memorable. Food and wine matches show yet more focus. From the set lunch, chilled artichoke soup with seaweed, lemon and crab crumpets is radiantly partnered with Friulian Sauvignon Blanc (Dalia Maris), while Pyrenean milk-fed lamb shoulder with baby salsify, truffle butter and chanterelles meets BLANKbottle’s Pinot-Noir-like Retirement at 65 Cinsault. Indeed, with Damon Quinlan (SWIG), Charlie Young (Vinoteca) and Hamish Anderson (Tate), Sharkey helped co-create a fusion of Fernão of Swartland Fernao Pires, Elgin Semillon and Darling Chenin Blanc called Young Dander The Sea Shark with the bonkers but brilliant mind behind, Pieter Walser. Meanwhile, from the tasting menu, Sharkey might select a Corsican Vermentino harvested from a one-hectare plot (Clos Signadore’s A Mandria) with white beetroot baked in clay with Exmoor caviar and smoked eel.
There is also a rich list of sweet wine and spirits, including 1992 Vinsanto from Santorini, and from the “Empirical Spirits” section, leftfield discoveries include Oloroso sherry cask aged distillate harvested from juniper berries smoked over juniper wood (Charlene McGee).