A seamless dining experience
Expertise of sommelier, Seamus Williams-Sharkey
World class plates by Brett Graham, including Berkshire game
Service inclusive pricing
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).
By Douglas Blyde.
The 1991 born head sommelier of the two Michelin-starred, Notting Hill favourite of international well-heeled dining cognoscenti, Seamus Williams-Sharkey, recently spent six hours visiting Rioja’s Bodegas Lopez de Heredia, nosing wines back to 1942. Back in London, the notably media shy fellow, whose CV includes Story, puts ‘guest expectations at the forefront of his approach to wine service’ according to the restaurant’s website.
An avid surveyor of the hospitality scene, Williams-Sharkey, according to his Instagram account, has, in his spare time, conquered bottles at Denmark’s Amass, Manfreds and Ved Stranden 10 Vinhandel & Bar, Spain’s Kaia Kaipe and closer to home, The Sportsman, Seasalter, and in London, Hunan, Lorne, The 10 Cases, Parsons, Spring, Winemakers Deptford, as well as Chez Bruce. The latter, along with La Trompette, The Glasshouse and The Ledbury – and formerly, The Square, is owned by perfectionist restaurateur, Nigel Platts-Martin, who, like Williams-Sharkey, is also not known for an embracing attitude to giving interviews in the press.
The wine list shows an understanding of the relevance of food-friendly acidity. The sometimes idiosyncratic, jolie laide digest may feature a very well aged Gourt de Mautens Rhône rosé, Fie Gris from the Loire, Vin Jaune from the Jura, Manzoni Bianco from Northern Italy, and plenty of Gruner Veltliners dating back to the time Deep Blue defeated Kasparov, as well as the darling of the sommelier on account of its uncompromising freshness, the as dry as Jack Dee, Hungarian Furmint. There are also plenty of clusters of Burgundy including those salvaged from the damp Diamond Jubilee year of 2012, and Bordeaux, including Haut-Brion, and not quite Haut-Brion, La Mission Haut-Brion, plus lots of Beaujolais which could help plug the gaps during inconvenient financial downturns. Following a trip to Australia, expect, potentially, more zeal in listing wines from down under, too.
£50-60 per bottle seems to be a sweet-spot, where you might have clos encounters with Clemens Busch Mosel Riesling, Moment of Silence (Blank Bottle), Veneto Carmenere (Più, Inama), and biodynamic Bordeaux (Château Falfas).
Suavely realised by Brett Graham and head chef, Greg Austin, well-spaced, low, rather than towering dishes, from the set lunch, which costs £10 more than that of the three Michelin-starred Restaurant Gordon Ramsay, could include Cumbrian veal tartare with artichoke oil and aged beef fat on toast alongside a measure of Jura Trousseau (Marnes Blanches, Saint Agnès), and Dorset Sika deer with roast celeriac, pear and cepes with Vas de la Ira from Daniel Gómez of the Gredos mountains south west of Madrid – a favourite of Jancis Robinson OBE. Dinner, meanwhile, could feature Cornish turbot, califlower and bonito.
Take note, on the spirits front, if entertaining prosperous North American envoys, the good value doubles of select Bourbon, Pappy Van Winkle’s, 23, available within.
By Douglas Blyde.
Nigel Platts-Martin is one of the most meticulous restaurateurs around, and wine is always at the core of every one of his venues. Sommeliers are at the top of their game, stemware is perfect, and the selection is as deep as it is broad.
The wine list is overseen by head sommelier Seamus Williams-Sharkey, who began his career at The Dormy House in the Cotswolds before spending time at The Nut Tree Inn in Oxfordshire and Hampton Manor in Solihul. Before joining The Ledbury, Seamus was also head sommelier at Restaurant Story. The Ledbury has been buying in and storing wine religiously over the past 10 years, allowing it to pull out older vintages across the whole group.
Glass from : £ 8.00 (125 ml)
127 Ledbury RoadW11 2AQ
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