Hedone - London
Hedone has long been on my list of must-try's in London, so when there was reason to celebrate earlier this summer, we jumped at the chance. When Matt made the reservation months before, we were not yet sure exactly what we were celebrating, but we knew it would either be 1)moving to Singapore and being able to travel through Asia or 2)just plain backpacking around Asia. Turns out we got option 1, yay!
Our reservation was originally for 9pm on a Friday night, which means my old self would have risked falling asleep at the table. Luckily, I was able to move it forward by dining at the bar, which in my opinion is always the best seat in the house...when the kitchen is the bar. I was immediately surprised by how small the restaurant was, no wonder it was so difficult to get a reservation. The decor is simple and polished, and it felt very peaceful despite the open kitchen.
I love being able to sit in front of open kitchens and watch the chefs build their creations. Usually this environment also means it is organized chaos and full of buzz. Hedone was not that. The kitchen was calm and carefully orchestrated. The 4 chefs, including chef and owner Mikael Jonsson, worked in harmony without raising a single voice. It was a bit surreal to watch. We got a regular tasting menu that consisted of about 7 courses with some nibbles here and there. First to come were 3 little bites to hold us over. There was a smoked salmon and creme fraiche, a beetroot jelly, and a third I forget but included a parmesan chip. It was fancy bar food.
First course was rock oysters that had been poached and then served with a green apple foam. Oh and some edible flowers that taste of nothing of course. I loved the apple foam and thought it was a beautiful and creative accompaniment with oysters. Could have easily had a few more of these.
Next was a salad of sweet mediterranean tomatoes with yogurt and dill, and oh look, more edible flowers. I never understood why people don't like tomatoes, but I'm sure that those tomato-haters would change their minds after having this. It was so sweet and fragrant, leaving me wanting to lick this oddly shaped bowl. But I didn't.
Usually into a tasting menu I start craving some warmth and substance. So good thing the next dish was a delicate parmesan ravioli in parmesan broth. Soup and pasta all in one. Delicious, but seriously, why only fill the bottom of this large bowl, there is clearly room for more!
Next was a beautiful, I mean really beautiful, lamb with roasted veg. The veggies were ok, thought they were too oily, but I understand that's just a supporting act. The star was the meat and it was so tender and not at all gamey. It's dishes like this that have slowly changed my perception of lamb over time.
I'm not entirely sure why there were 2 desserts (3 if counting the final nibbles) as I would have really preferred another meat or fish. The first of our desserts was strawberries with sorbet and some things that I can only remember to be lemon puffs...that is clearly wrong. Anyways, it was fine and cleansed the palate (even though I did not want my palate cleansed) but not really memorable.
The next dessert was much better and interesting. A bowl of warm chocolate ganache, with a raspberry crisp thingy and some ice cream. It didn't exactly wow me but was a solid end to the meal.
Before leaving we were also given some nibbles, which I may have enjoyed even more than the actual desserts. A little chocolate cup, a rich lemon cake, and of course, the holy macaroon.
There have been a lot of mixed reviews about Hedone since its opening a few years ago, and I now can side with the lovers. The tasting menu is well thought out and executed beautifully. Every dish, apart from those strawberries, stands on its own. At £65 pp for the tasting menu, it's definitely a special occasion meal, and I certainly felt quite special throughout it!