Hedone is one of those restaurants that I’d been itching to visit and review, not least because the food writer Andy Hayler (a great authority on Michelin star dining) had told me it was currently producing some of the most exciting cooking in Britain. He wasn’t wrong.
Even on a grey day, Chiswick was looking leafy and prosperous as I joined my brother and his wife for lunch. I originally had a solo booking but was surprised we were easily able to add on two extra diners only 24 hours before the reservation. I say surprised because one-star Hedone delivered one of the most brilliant and innovative London lunches I’ve had in a very long time. Maybe if it was in Soho, it’d be rammed, but why there were numerous empty tables is beyond me.
The front of house welcome was warm and very Gallic, the room striking. On one side the dining room proper featuring an exposed brick wall with a triptych, grey concrete, warm wood tones and a somewhat surreal ceiling covered in what looked like sketches and hieroglyphics. To our right the open kitchen, quietly and coolly buzzing, stool seats at a bar overlooking the Swedish head chef Mikael Jonsson and his team at work.
And what work. I’d be hard pressed to find an off note cross our seven course tasting menu at £65, from canapés and amuses-bouches right through to the petits fours. From the former, a ‘salade niçoise cornetto’ somehow distilled the flavours of this classic into a tiny, one-bite cone. Foie gras with mushroom and sour cherry was way better than it may sound, again beautifully rendered.
A magnificent Dorset Rock oyster was poached with shallots and a Granny Smith apple foam, before ‘cucumber variation’ smoothed and cooled the palate even before the main menu had kicked in.
‘Mediterranean tomato variation’ was an explosion of flavours, the sunny Cotê d’Azur arranged on a plate as blue as a perfect Provençale sky.
We headed back to the UK and the west country once more with the Dorset crab, sea aster, lobster coral and crustacean infusion, the Jurassic coast’s finest produce again singing as one.
Next up a hop across the Italian border for a knockout parmesan ravioli with guanciale (cured pork cheek) and horseradish foam, an upmarket carbonara by another name.
Grouse was small but perfectly formed, including the claw for dramatic effect. The famously pungent offal sauce was maybe a bit more mute than I was expecting, but disappeared in part because the bread is so utterly addictive.
We were told that a certain regular diner, who shall of course remain nameless, apparently managed six baskets for himself. We can fully understand why.
English strawberries with hibiscus and coconut were pretty in pink, before a warm chocolate, powdered raspberry and Madagascar vanilla ice cream threatened to steal the show right at the last.
All told, it more than lived up to its own burgeoning reputation and my excited expectations. That lone star must surely be set to double come the next round of Michelin pronouncements – just hopefully not a week early, like last time. If indeed it does, then being able to book a table and keeping it off-radar, even way down on the District Line, will be more difficult than ever.
Hedone, 301-303 Chiswick High Rd, London +44 20 8747 0377 http://www.hedonerestaurant.com/