Hits and misses at Hedone
|Poached Irish Rock Oyster, Granny Smith, Shallots
We ordered the seven course tasting menu for £65. In hindsight, I probably should have tried the a la carte menu (3 courses for £47) instead. There is also a surprise Carte Blanche menu, which at £95 requires an awful lot of faith in the chef. But, we have seven courses to digest here, the first of which was "Poached Irish Rock Oyster, Granny Smith, Shallots". The gently-poached briny oyster was nestled atop a tart granny smith apple foam which hid some pickled shallots for more contrast. Consensus on our table of three was that it was "nice", and not amazing. I found the slightly firmer texture of the poached oyster a bit peculiar, but maybe I'm just used to raw oysters.
|Slow cooked duck's egg, new season's Luberon asparagus
|Liquid Cevennes onions ravioli
|Hand dived scallop, potato skin emulsion
The "Liquid Cevennes onions ravioli" was three or four pasta parcels of explode-in-the-mouth roasted onion consommé. With the dish was a horseradish emulsion, which I couldn't really taste, and a julienne of crunchy pear. The chef seems to love the Cevennes onions, serving them in various guises at other times in the year, but again, this was another "nice" dish.
Then came probably the most controversial dish of the night. The "Roasted Breast of Challans duckling, beetroot variation" came with a smear of sauce made with the blood and offal of the bird which had been thickened with foie gras. Apart from the tang of the blood, the foie thickening gave the sauce a slightly mealy texture that wasn't particularly pleasant. The duckling however, was beautifully rare and tender while the different coloured beets were served puréed, roasted and raw. There was also a slightly thick parsley purée that was lost since the flavour of the offal sauce overpowered much of what came into contact with it. There were three very different reactions on our table to this dish, but no-one loved it. I'm all for nose-to-tail eating but I think a different technique with the offal could have been more successful. Plus, it's just not a very appetising colour, is it?
|Roasted Breast of Challans Duckling, Beetroot Variation
|Roasted Victorian Pineapple, Cannele Crisp, Coconut and Lime Sorbet
|Warm Chocolate, Powdered Raspberry, Madagascar Vanilla Ice cream
In all we paid a whopping £457 for three of us, obviously pushed up by the price of the wine. At the price point of Hedone's tasting menu, I would prefer to eat at Dabbous (a £59 tasting menu), if getting a table was possible of course. I've also heard great things from critics and bloggers I tend to see eye-to-eye with about Kitchen Table too, although I haven't actually eaten there yet (it's on "The List"). So, while there were certainly some stand out dishes, I wouldn't return to Hedone. Am I glad I've eaten there though? Definitely - the bread is the best you'll find and they're generous with it.