The beginning of October brought not only a distinct autumnal chill, but several highly anticipated dates in the UK restaurant calendar including this year’s release of hallowed Michelin Stars, the National Restaurant Awards, as well as several “best of” lists from respected publications such as TimeOut and OFM. Many that fared well – The Ledbury, Pollen Street Social, Roganic, Dinner by Heston – though deserved, weren’t much of a surprise. Far more interesting I thought were the ones to watch, like new kid on the block Hedone, crowned NRA’s most promising opening of the year.
Brainchild of ex-blogger Mikael Jonsson, the Chiswick neighbourhood eatery with a Nordic sensibility (a nod to the chef patron’s Swedish roots) takes sourcing to another level. The focus is on the ingredients – stripping dishes down to emphasise the purity of their natural flavours.
A light flaky amuse of Cep Tart, slightly bland on first bite, became wonderfully woodsy after a scant sprinkle of sea salt pilfered from the butter dish. I worried that the restrained seasoning would become a recurring issue, but as the meal unfolded it transpired that my concerns were totally unfounded.
Flame Grilled Cornish Mackerel was moist, subtly smoky and perfectly seasoned. Crunchy leaves of baby gem provided an uplifting foil to the oily fish.
Cévennes Onion with Pear Shavings didn’t excite on paper but dazzled the palate with its simplicity – tender, incredibly sweet onions doused in butter and accented with refreshing pear slivers.
I have yet to meet a slow cooked egg I did not like, and Jonsson’s version served with Scottish Girolles had an unexpected addition of apricot, which with its tart sweetness really elevated the dish.
Hand-cut Beef Tartare showcased the quality meat well and was so delicious that the warm oyster nestled on top was pretty superfluous, not that this stopped me from nabbing my dining companion’s (the rather unusual and ever entertaining chinaman, E) when he sent it my way.
We both snubbed the fish option when it came to the mains. E went with the Leg of Silka Deer which was juicy, flavourful and suitably pink. Absolutely sublime when eaten with the accompanying caramelised endives, horseradish and rich jus.
My choice of Scottish Grouse, Bramley Apple and Cress complete with offal sauce was not for the faint of heart. E wrinkled his nose at its overpowering aroma and I must admit the game was a little aggressive – I much preferred the venison. The attentive waitress noticed this and sweetly offered to replace my main with some deer of my own (I declined – after all grouse is known for its pungency so it was no fault of the kitchen).
Desserts didn’t disappoint. The Hedone Chocolate Bar was dense, decadent and intensely chocolaty. Utter sin on a plate.
English Blueberry Tart was equally satisfying – buttery puff pastry filled with luscious stewed fruit served with a scoop of impossibly fragrant jewel-toned Vine Peach Sorbet.
We ended the evening with warm madeleines, big smiles on our faces and chewy salted caramels to take home. A thoroughly delightful dinner, which although not pitch perfect had enough high notes to make a return to the depths of W4 an absolute certainty.
301 Chiswick High Road
London W4 4HH
t. 020 8747 0377