Two years married – that’s us! And again, it’s a great excuse to celebrate by going somewhere nice for dinner. This year, we were going to stay close to home and I ended up choosing something that was literally that, close to home in nearby Chiswick. This was Hedone, a new restaurant opened by Mikael Jonsson, a trained chef turned lawyer turned ingredient expert turned chef, and I booked it for our anniversary when I read very early reviews praising the restaurant and Jonsson’s use of the best ingredients and style of cooking. We went for dinner last Saturday night.
We settled into the restaurant and I was surprised to see the open kitchen almost integrated into the small dining room. While my cushioned seat against the wall was fine but a bit low, poor Blai’s chair was on a very rattly bit of the wooden floor and he vibrated every time somebody walked past, which was often – that needs sorting out. We turned our focus from the vibrations to the menu. 4, 5 or 6 course dinners were available with the same selection of dishes for all. As it was a celebratory dinner, we were going to go all out and have the full 6 courses (£70).
An amuse of Umami flan, seaweed coulis that I’d heard so much about arrived first. The combination of the two was delicious although the presentation (in a deep little espresso cup) had me hoping that there was a surprise within.
Flame grilled Cornish mackerel, Japanese flavour was all simplicity with a fillet of the freshest mackerel cooked very rare alongside a fine salad dressed with the so called Japanese flavours. This dish showed definite potential in the open kitchen and the preparation of the dish certainly highlighted that the ingredients were of the finest standard. Still, I couldn’t help but feel a little disappointed that he had not been more creative with them.
The next course, the Slow cooked hen egg, duck bouillon, endives, pancetta, was excellent and we were mopping up the egg yolk in our bowls with our bread.
The Warm cèpes tart, thyme was similarly brilliant: a crispy base with slices of flavourful cèpe, served with a tangy lemon sauce.
The Lobster, green beans, coral sauce was exactly as stated on the menu, nothing more, nothing less. It was also a small portion but this did not matter as it was quite dull and we both did not enjoy this.
And then all too soon, it was time for our main course: we chose two out of the three available and shared them (the third option was lamb). I first tried the Wild Dorset turbot, sea aster, cannellini bean sauce which was served with smoked little potatoes. The fish was delicious as was the sea aster (it was new to me). And the potatoes! Smoking them had somehow enhanced their potatoiness; I loved them. This was the kind of food I expected at Hedone.
The same could not be said of the 45days aged Black Angus beef, sweet onions, confit San Marzano tomato, beef juices. Unfortunately, the beef was quite tough; it was extremely difficult to chew through the tissue fibres and bizarrely, there was not much flavour to it. The tomatoes, while very tasty, didn’t add anything to the dish and actually seemed to clash with the rest of the ingredients.
There was a choice for desserts too – four from which to choose. Unlike the main courses, both our chosen desserts were fantastic. The Vine peach millefeuille was made of layers of flaky puff pastry, vanilla cream and some of the finest peaches I’ve had.
The Hedone chocolate bar looked very rich but was surprisingly light. Under that dark chocolate coating were layers of almond dacquoise, hazelnut spread and chocolate mousse – beautiful.
We ended the meal with a poorly brewed jasmine tea (it was quite bitter and was oversteeped) and delightfully tart miniature lemon madeleines.
And soon it was time to step out into the night. With water and the tea, the bill came to £170, quite expensive for a meal with a few misses. While I appreciate that the chef changes the menu daily to reflect what is best in the market (I do like what he’s doing), for that price, I do expect everything to be delicious and all the dishes to be at a certain standard. It was an interesting dinner and most of the meal was very good and our desserts were brilliant but I hoped that there would be more of a spark with more dishes. Service too was a little hit and miss and while for the most part it was fine, it was difficult to get our bill and even another glass of water without feeling invisible. I’d like to return one day to try lunch (which I hope and believe is cheaper) but time is what I think the restaurant needs to improve.
301-303 Chiswick High Road
London W4 4HH