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Ledbury v Marcus Wareing @ the Berkeley [London]

I see alot of comments on Ledbury, however i see very few comments on marcus wareing at the berkley

could anyone who has been to both for dinner compare and contrast the two

based on the websites and menus i am pretty sure marcus wareing is the place, however i was curious as to why it gets very few mentions on the board

Comparing the two the pricing for Wareing seems quite a bit higher

the basic tasting menu is 10 bp more and the wine pairing is 30 bp more

then there is the gourmand tasting at wareing, however i dont think that would be an even comparison to the ledbury menu that i saw online

thanks
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  1. I was fortunate enough to go to both over xmas. They're both very good, but you're right, Wareing is more expensive. However, he does use a lot of luxury ingredients and has a much higher staffing level. There is also a 10 course prestige tasting menu for £120 (I think) and a brilliant lunch deal that starts at £30 for 2 courses. The food could be by the by though if you really have a go at the wine list; it's extensive, offering a few bottles under the £30 bracket, which then heads skyward rapidly. This is reflected in the wine pairing, but you do get top quality producers/estates, plus I found the sommeliers to be more generous here. Extra, surprise glasses and occasional top-ups peppered our meal throughout. It's a brilliant blow-out, special occasion restaurant.

    That's not to say The Ledbury is a lesser experience, but it is different. Brett Graham is picking-up a lot of fans and many, including The Good Food Guide, think this is the best food to be had in London right now. Aside from the slight ingredient differences, I personally think they're both executing brilliant, inventive food.

    The Ledbury is a restaurant that has certainly evolved. I also went after it first opened and, despite it's obvious Michelin pedigree, it retained a neighbourhood feel as befits the Notting Hill/Westbourne location. Although it's now it's matured, picked-up its second star and become more of a destination venue I was pleased to discover they've managed to retain that aspect; it is undoubtedly a more relaxed experience. The staff were lovely on my last visit and obviously had passion and pride over what the kitchen was turning out.

    38 Replies
    1. re: marcus james

      thank you so much, that is exactly what i was looking for

      for the honeymoon marcus wareing is the def the place :)

      that just helps confirm the choice

      now regular tasting menu or the gourmand tasting menu...hmmm

      1. re: Dapuma

        Marcus Wareing is an excellent choice for your honeymoon (I say this mostly because we ate a very long lunch there last fall on the first day of our honeymoon during a layover between flights from New York and to Johannesburg).

        Know that whatever you choose in terms of menu, there's a great deal of flexibility in what you order, as is the case in most restaurants of this caliber. We ended up with seven courses, pulled from the two tasting menus on offer at the time. Food, service, wine - all of it was brilliant. The sommelier (or perhaps it was our server or maybe the manager - sad I can't remember as it wasn't all that long ago) even happened to be from Zambia (one of the stops on our honeymoon), and came back to the table at one point with a full page of recommendations for us.

        By way of contrast, we had dinner at the Ledbury in December, and while the food was all very good, as marcus mentions, it's a very different, and more relaxed, experience. You do get the feel that it's much more of a neighborhood place (despite the two stars), and I remember the wine list having a much larger number of accessibly-priced bottles. We had a late reservation on a Sunday night and ended up being one of the last tables in the restaurant and never once did we feel rushed out the door.

        1. re: slcorlis

          I'm still voting for The Ledbury as your pick.

          1. re: slcorlis

            That is cool that they pulled different together for you menus for you - everything looks amazing on both tasting menus

            I will probably end up doing the wine pairing, i like all different types of wine and dont know enough about wine to make a good bottle choice that is right for the entire meal, plus i like to try what ever they think is good with each dish - makes it more fun

            Nancy i took your pick for the sunday in Amsterdam and viso's (i cannot spell that word!) in paris :)

            thanks again everyone for all your advice, so pumped for the trip!

            Apparently we are going to see some cool stuff not in restaurants also

            1. re: Dapuma

              You are planning a fabulous trip. I'm quite envious.

              1. re: Nancy S.

                That is a interesting comparison. on the one hand you have a restaurant that seems very stiff, trying hard to get three stars and forgetting what the customer wants on the way. On the other hand you have someone who is on fire at the moment, cooking food of the highest order and serving it in a relaxed atmosphere. The former would be Wareing, the latter the Ledbury with Brett Graham.

                For me, the Ledbury would be the obvious choice. Wareing's food is not bad, but it uses produce of lesser quality and tends to be overly complicated. Also, the wine list is very expensive and the atmosphere there a little stiff.

                At the Ledbury you will have a less formal experience, with a decently priced wine list. Service is not always perfect, but very very friendly. The food there is much more exciting and has a lot speaking for it. The products Brett uses are better than anyone else's in London, which makes it even better.

                If you want a few pics, there are some on my blog:

                http://www.qliweb.com/food/_the_ledbury (for the Ledbury

                )

                http://www.qliweb.com/food/Marcus_War... (Wareing

                )

                HOpe that helps!

                1. re: FelixH

                  >The products Brett uses are better than anyone else's in London, which makes it even better. <

                  That seems a bit of hyperbole. I think some other chefs would beg to differ with that assessment. His suppliers supply no one else in London? I guess that could be.

                  1. re: FelixH

                    I think thats a bit unfair on MW. I do love the Ledbury and would recommend it to anyone but I had a very good meal at MW in December.

                    Yes, agreed it's a bit more formal but the food is very good and I'd say the service beat the Ledbury hands down (apart from Brett himself who was a total champ when we met him).

                    In terms of quality of ingredients i'd say both are going to be very high end aside from Ledbury perhaps having the edge from Brett's Game contacts.

                    The Ledbury certainly seems to be the restaurant of the moment but unfair to write MW off like that in my opinion

                    1. re: mjgauer

                      With the exception of maybe the Square when it comes to langoustines and some of their fish, the produce at the Ledbury is the best used in London's better restaurants. Chefs here don't care about produce which is a real shame. In that respect Brett is a little different, working with guys who don't supply all of the other chefs, and always looking for new ones. Not to say he's perfect in what he does, its still a far way to go to reach the levels of quality that you find in Parisian places, but he's pushing in the right direction.

                      at Wareing on the other hand, the produce was much less convincing. Not bad, but I have heard a lot of very knowledgeable diners have the same opinion: It is decent food, but lacking in product quality and too complicated.

                      For Wareing, it just seems to me that the place is so fixed on being the "best" that it seems pretentious when it clearly isn't. It is a pleasant and good restaurant, but there are at least 5 in London that are better than that.

                      1. re: FelixH

                        felix:

                        "... Chefs here don't care about produce which is a real shame."

                        that's quite possibly the most inaccurate generalisation i've ever seen on a foodie message board.

                        1. re: marcus james

                          Well, then tell me one single place in the UK that serves fish or meat or vegetables of the same quality that you can find in French restaurants?

                          1. re: FelixH

                            I thought my food at Launceston Place this week was excellent, and as good as I've had in many French restaurants. The fish (not my usual choice) was superb as was the asparagus. I don't think it was the cooking alone that made it taste so superior, but the quality.

                            There is such an emphasis here in England presently on fresh produce of good quality. Saying the chefs don't care is a bit over the top.

                            -----
                            Launceston Place
                            1 Launceston Pl, Kensington, Greater London W8 5, GB

                            1. re: zuriga1

                              zurgia - since you are from AZ like me, what is your pick of the two and why?

                              I am not changing at this date and time, as I think for this meal MW is exactly what we am looking for, more of a formal elegant experience and we will have a full night of sleep in us after the flight in - it is interesting to hear the comparisons between the two, they both sound great

                              We are going to viajante the night we get in which sounds fun and whimsical (as well as awesome) so it will be fun to compare the two

                              Just to throw this out there as well for everyone: Dinner v Ledbury - which would you pick?

                              Something you might find interesting as well, there is a Roka Akor now in Scottsdale

                              1. re: Dapuma

                                I'm not really a true Arizona person... just spent two winters in Tucson. I do know Phoenix as my best friend lives there. (I miss it!!)

                                I can't really compare the two restaurants for you not having been to either. I'm saving Ledbury for a special occasion. I would recommend Launceston Place for a very good value lunch. I really enjoyed my meal there this week.

                                -----
                                Launceston Place
                                1 Launceston Pl, Kensington, Greater London W8 5, GB

                            2. re: FelixH

                              Lots, but for starters, The Sportsman in Seasalter.

                              1. re: greedygirl

                                felix, aren't we asking the wrong question here? if french sourcing is so much better it stands to reason their domestic produce is superior. therefore, wouldn't a debate about each countries respective larders be more accurate?

                                i could give you a limitless list of examples of artisan food production in britain, much of it refined for and alongside some of the countries better chefs (i could also give you a very lengthy list of french based chefs who source throughout the uk and import back to france btw). sourcing and ingredients is at the heart of every great british restaurant. to say otherwise, and more insultingly, that the chefs don't care is pure ignorance in my opinion.

                                1. re: marcus james

                                  Greedygirl, I think I mentioned that above. ANd I agree, that is the place which really makes the difference.

                                  Well, certainly French produce is better for much of it. But Britain has phenomenal fish, game and other things. What is striking is that only very few restaurants serve fish that is of the very highest quality (the Sportsman being one of the few).

                                  As regards to French chefs importing from the UK, certainly grouse, salmon and some other fish and shellfish. But have you ever seen a British vegetable in a French kitchen?

                                  One of London's three star chefs told me that he found it impossible to get vegetables of acceptable quality so that he had to import them from the south of France. To have the artisan food production in England is great, and a start but it is hardly at the level of quality you'd expect in three star restaurants. At least when you compare across Europe and indeed the rest of the world.

                                  1. re: FelixH

                                    i haven't seen a british vegetable, true, but i have seen scottish rasberries. hardly surprising that veg flourishes in the south of france with its much sunnier, warmer climate though is it? just as rasberries love it cool, wet and windy. would it just not be fairer to say both countries have their own strengths and weaknesses?

                                    and as for, "very few restaurants serve fish that is of the very highest quality (the Sportsman being one of the few). " well, you clearly have unfound prejudice, but rest assured all that '(grouse), salmon, other fish and shellfish' goes through the same suppliers on its way to our restaurants and france. and let's get into this 'other' fish - how about the british (i'm sure you'd probably call it french) channel? where does a lobster switch from being breton to cornish, and visa versa? does a turbot, dory or bass immediately elevate itself as it swims across the border of our international waters? so, following the food chain, do you suppose all our michelin star chef/restauranters then think, 'i know, we've the same produce to hand but we'll source a slightly inferior product?' same day vans/couriers wing it to the top london/nationwide kitchens every morning! how, given that infrastructure, french kitchens end up with better produce is beyond me!

                                    and as a major staple of any menu, let's not forget about our beef, which i've also seen at the best tables in france. infact, robuchon himself has gone on record calling it the best in the world and, before you mention wagyu, did you know it's now being produced here in the uk? i know he's a british chef and should not care, but sat bains already has it on his menu.

                                    what about our salt marsh lambs, rare breed pigs or reg johnson's goosnargh poultry? ok, i'm verging on being overly specific here, but there are many great artisan producers championing slow food production who you conveniently gloss over. i'm not saying we're better than france, but there are many examples of incredible produce in the uk that is more than equal to anywhere in the world. just imagine how good we're going to be if we are, as you claim, at the 'start' of our artisan production revolution. puuuuuurlease!

                                    1. re: marcus james

                                      Of course they both have strengths and weaknesses.

                                      I'm not saying the fish in the channel or in Scotland is not great. Far from it, it certainly is of incredible quality. The problem is that you don't have the things that you have in places like L'Ambroisie, Arpege or other Parisian three-stars, where fishermen catch say a bass, send it directly off so that the fish doesn't see any ice even. In many London restaurants you find that the people don't look after it with the same attention after having it fished (that also goes for the way they kill and bleed it btw). In that respect, the fish itself might well be incredible, but if it is not treated properly, what good is it?

                                      And if there are a lot of artisan producers that certainly is a great thing. BUt, can it replace years and years of experience and knowledge of growing vegetables, raising lamb.

                                      Let me tell you this, as an example: A friend of mine who knows an awful lot about his produce was asked by Michel Roux Jr. to bring a chicken of his liking to compare to the finest British chicken. Whilst MIchel was convinced that France was unable to produce anything of the same quality he asked my friend: "So what did you bring? Bresse?" The answer was Gaulloise Blanche (from the producer who raises those for Michel Bras). After that Michel simply said, alright I give up, nothing produced here can beat that.

                                      What happened in the UK during the last ten or twenty years is phenomenal, but there is still a long way to go. What matters in the end is what is being served in the restaurants and how it tastes. If you tell me Ramsay, Gavroche, Heston, Ducasse (London), Wareing or any of the others serve dishes with products of the same level as those you find at Ledoyen, L'Ambroisie, ADPA, Pierre Gagnaire, Le Meurice,... then I have serious trouble believing it. At least they don't serve any of it to me, on a regular basis.

                          2. re: FelixH

                            I agree with this assessment. For me, The Square and The Ledbury are in a class by themselves in London. The Ledbury is especially spectacular in terms of ingredients, combined with service and the most charming chef. I'm also a fan of The Harwood Arms. I plan to return to all three in July (at least one dinner each, perhaps more.)

                            1. re: Nancy S.

                              Absolutely. Those two places are great. The Square had a few issues with service since David O'Connor left (replaced by Ben Crofton who's great too), but I hope that got back to normal.

                              Harwood must be one of the best valued gastronomic restaurants in town!

                              1. re: FelixH

                                If you were to add another "gastropub" to an itinerary, where would you choose? Also, have you been to Dinner and are you planning on trying out Pollen Street Social. Many thanks for your excellent comments, especially on your blog.

                                1. re: Nancy S.

                                  Nancy, thanks for the kind comments!

                                  I think that judging from the restaurants you mentioned I believe we have similar tastes. So, I'd really recommend you try the Sportsman in Seasalter. Call ahead and ask for a tasting menu. It is no more than £55 and a steal, as you will be served anything from amazing turbot to scallops, crab, oysters or whatever else the fishermen catch. Bring a nice bottle of wine with you, as corkage is only £5 per bottle. For a great day out, this is your best pick and even much better than the Harwood.

                                  As for Dinner, I have been there indeed. It is a great restaurant. Not that the produce are exceptional, but the food is truly delicious and fun. For me it is one of the most interesting additions to London's restaurant scene. Only problem: products and the very expensive wine list. Here's my review:

                                  http://www.qliweb.com/food/Dinner_by_...

                                  Hope that helps.

                                  Pollen Street Social is certainly a place that I want to try, but haven't had the chance yet to book. Will see what I can do about that, you'll certainly read about it on QLI soon!

                                  1. re: FelixH

                                    Many thanks. Our plan is to stay in London for a week. Our line up in London (already reserved) is Ledbury, Harwood Arms, Square, Dinner, Bull & Last, Pollen Street Social and Texture. (Any revisions, do you think?)

                                    Then we are going to Whitstable for the night, and I have reserved a table for dinner at the Sportsman (Then on to Belgium for Hertog Jan and a return stay at In de Wulf (to stay overnight), then Paris.)

                                    1. re: Nancy S.

                                      Sounds like a brilliant plan! Should be a memorable week or so. Hertog Jan is a great place, as are all of the others you will go to. Staying overnight at In de Wulf is a unforgettable experience, it has an awful lot of charm.

                                      I don't know if Texture is the most amazing place, I hear mixed comments about it. One thing that is truly unique and interesting is actually Le Gavroche. Their a la carte is very very good, and the lunch deal is great value for money.

                                      Otherwise, instead of Texture Apsleys is a truly great place. one of the top five in London. My most recent meals there have been quite special

                                      1. re: FelixH

                                        Thanks for the suggestion. I'll remove Texture from the list and add either Le Gavroche or Apsleys.

                                      2. re: Nancy S.

                                        It's too bad you seem to have given up your idea of going to Marcus Wareing, as it really is an excellent and surprisingly unpretentious restaurant. I went there last year for lunch, had the gourmand tasting menu, and was wowed by really spectacular food, all made with British produce (Yes, Virginia, Britain does produce very nice vegetables!). Standout courses were quail with toast foam (I know but it turned into an awesome sauce), Scottish scallops with lime, and venison with chocolate and blackberries.
                                        I went to Texture around Christmas. The food wasn't hugely memorable but I do remember it all being delicious. The champagne is excellent as well.
                                        You owe yourself a trip to St John.

                                        1. re: sunclytie

                                          To be honest Marcus Wareing is a decent restaurant. There is no question of that. But, there are at least 10 other places that are much better, more interesting and cheaper. But, most importantly, they make you feel relaxed and have a good time. At Wareing the atmosphere is so stiff and cold that it doesn't really combine well with the not so great food.

                                    2. re: Nancy S.

                                      The Sportsman is wonderful but it would require a whole day to visit as it's in Kent not London! In London, I like the Bull & Last in Hampstead.

                                      1. re: greedygirl

                                        It does, but it's well worth it. Otherwise, the Bull & Last gets good reviews indeed although I can't say much about it.

                                        Not really a pub, but cheaper than the Harwood for instance is Medlar. It is the new place of David O'Connor (ex Square and Ledbury) and Joe Mercer Nairne (ex sous-chef at Chez Bruce). They have a relaxed place, and serve really tasty simple food that is to the point from what I read. will try it out myself in a week's time!

                                        1. re: FelixH

                                          I've booked a table there too for lunch in a week or so. It does sound nice.

                                          1. re: greedygirl

                                            Going miles back to the original topic I ate Sunday lunch at the Ledbury today and I am still reeling from how good value the food was.
                                            For £40pp we had three courses, all of which were also on the seven course tasting menu which is £85. So we essentially got to taste the whole tasting menu between us for less than half the price and we got the elements we wanted. I am also assuming our dishes were bigger than the tasting portions.

                                            The scallop ceviche with frozen horseradish was excellent although the horseradish 'snow' was quite overpowering.
                                            The lamb shoulder and loin was excellent with the best aubergine I've ever tasted and the Roe Deer loin with beetroot, roast bone marrow, potato crisp and venison sausage was a standout dish.
                                            Desserts were very good and wonderfully presented but no more than that.

                                            I feel as though I'm always banging on about value on this board but I can't stress how good value that lunch felt.

                                            1. re: ManInTransit

                                              Had some of those dishes as part of a 8 course tasting recently, and had the same experience with the scallop -- too much horseradish snow; the seaweed oil around it was excellent and gave it a good umami finish. Other dishes were very enjoyable, but nothing world changing for me.

                                              BTW if you're looking for value, try the scallop at Asakusa -- cut more thickly to better present the plump and slightly bouncy texture of the scallop. (Caveat: Been a while since I've been to Asakusa.)

                                              And speaking of sourcing ingredients, I think the saffron flavours at Mohsen are somewhat more prominent than the saffron in the sauce I had with Ledbury's monkfish (delicately textured rather than with the lobster-like chewiness I personally prefer).

                                              1. re: limster

                                                limster, I so appreciate that you are able to find such hidden treasures that are all about the food.

                                                1. re: sunclytie

                                                  Thanks for your kind words; I should say that most of these places I've mentioned in this thread were not my discoveries -- I had merely come across these recommendations here on this board and followed them.

                                              2. re: ManInTransit

                                                Good to hear. THat venison is really a phenomenal dish. Venison doesn't get much better. Brett gets a balance of the smoky and gamey flavours that is impressive.

                                                I don't completely agree for the scallop. I think that it is again a dish with a very interesting composition. MAybe the snow is more prominent at first, but the scallops don't get "drowned" in it.

                                                But, of course you make it clear: It is a killer deal. There are so many bad places that would serve you a sunday lunch menu for anywhere north of £25 and make you feel ripped-off. So that have a 2* place serve such glorious food at that price is brilliant!

                                                1. re: FelixH

                                                  I was quite torn on the scallop. Pardon me if this is undignified but it was almost the case that you had to hold the elements in your mouth for a second longer than usual to allow the seawood oil and scallop flavours to come through. I think slightly less of the snow would have been better.

                                                  I'm glad to hear someone else loved the venison, phenomenal was the word I was looking for. It wasn't on the online menus so came as a wonderful surprise and there really wasn't anything bad to say about it. One of the best dishes of its kind I've eaten in London.

                                                  1. re: ManInTransit

                                                    I can see that the scallop dish is a pretty delicate one. I had it about 6 times, and depending on the generosity of the guy who plates the snow and oil on it, the dish is of course a tiny bit different. That being said, I think that it is a great start to any menu as it really makes your taste buds excited.

                                                    Can't agree more with your words on the venison.