Hedone, Chiswick

Hedone is a Michelin starred restaurant which resides in Chiswick (the slightly less glamorous end of the Chiswick High Road) and is the creation of head chef and owner Mikael Jonsson. He used to be a lawyer and a food blogger but gave up the glamorous life of both to run a restaurant which concentrates on the freshest and best quality ingredients that this country (and a few others) have to offer.

The restaurant is stylishly designed with exposed brick walls (of course) and an open plan kitchen that gives the room a great atmosphere. There was a small bar seating 7 or so overlooking the kitchen which is where we were seated and we had a superb view. Mikael himself introduced many of the dishes and gave a real insight into how each element was prepared – it really was fascinating.

We went for a lunch on a Saturday and a 3 course set lunch priced at £25, a 3 course a la carte at £35 and a 7 course tasting menu at £55 were all available. We decided to live a little and go for the tasting menu.

A little amuse bouche of crab with grapefruit in a biscuit bowl tasted lovely and was a perfect mouthful.

We were given the choice of two appetisers so we went for one each. The umami flan topped with a vibrant red pepper coulis was a little cup of warm custardy heaven. The poached Dorset rock oyster, Granny Smith foam and pickled shallots looked beautiful and tasted divine. The poached oyster was so delicate and not at all chewy. The sharp apple foam was a brilliant accompaniment for the salty oyster.

Our next course of broken duck egg “florentine” provided me with the best egg yolk I have ever eaten in my life. Being cooked for 2 hours (yes 2 hours) clearly makes for an insanely delicious and perfectly cooked egg – I have never had such a creamy and thick yolk. The “florentine” referred to the replacement of a creamy hollandaise sauce with a tangy vinaigrette which clung to the yolk perfectly. The shards of salty cheesy parmesan added seasoning and made every mouthful a real taste of heaven.

Next came a very simple sounding dish – Dorset wild brill, potato skin emulsion and beef juice. Simple it may have sounded and appeared but it was bleedin’ clever on the flavour front. The emulsion (or foam) tasted every bit of potato skins – very clever. Every mouthful was like munching my way through potato skins yet the texture of the foam was light as air and dissolved in my mouth. The beef juices added a rich meaty flavour which blended brilliantly with the perfectly cooked piece of brill. Wow!

Cuttlefish tagliatelle and it’s ragu was our least favourite dish on the menu. My gentleman companion wasn’t that keen on the “fishiness” of the dish but for me it was the slightly gritty texture that put me off. It looked beautiful and the components were very cleverly made but this one just wasn’t for us.

For the next course there was two choices so we went for one of each naturally! I was excited to eat the Hare ‘a la Royale’ as I’ve never eaten hare before – and I’m glad my first experience was at Hedone. Mikael told us the ‘a la Royale’ refers to a member of Royalty who once had no teeth so everything was blended down into a puree so he could eat the same food as everyone else. So in homage to this toothless royal Mikael served a little pasta parcel filled with liquid hare which was delicious. The mini loin was perfectly cooked and was the very epitome of tender. The sauce had been thickened with Hare blood and a touch of chocolate – it was a really intense and flavoursome sauce like nothing I’ve tasted before. This was a rich gamey course which I absolutely loved.

My gentleman companion’s Challans duck, crab and green meat radish was another winner. The duck was cooked perfectly with a crispy skin and soft pink meat. The delicate crab was perfectly balanced to sit harmoniously alongside the duck.

For me, the winning dish of the day was the roasted squab pigeon, “poireaux vinaigrette”, smoked potato and foie gras mousse. The slightly fruity foie gras mousse was the most perfect combination for the pigeon – they really were made for each other. A generous scoop was placed on top of the pigeon then melted to form a creamy rich sauce. The smoked potato and buttery leeks were a great accompaniment but to be honest, it could have been anything on the plate and I wouldn’t have cared – just as long as there was that pigeon and foie gras mousse. The pigeon leg (with foot and feathers still attached) was served on the side with a finger bowl and the waitress said “you can either eat this or use the claw as a toothpick!” Like a caveman I picked it up and devoured the whole thing (not the foot obviously). I loved this dish a lot – it’s the reason why I could never be a vegetarian!

There was two choices for dessert and again we went for one of each. The pineapple, vanilla and sesame was a little too simple for me. The quality of the pineapple really was great but neither of us detected any sesame. The white chocolate disc added some indulgence but otherwise it just felt a bit healthy – like a very posh fruit salad.

The chocolate bar however gave me a tremendously satisfying sweet hit! The chocolate mousse was so good; rich yet light as a cloud and the sharp passion fruit sorbet cut through the sweet chocolate wondrously.

As we paid the bill some delightful canele and passion fruit macaroons were served. We both decided that these were in fact the best macaroons we had ever tasted – a crunchy outside with a chewy centre and filled with a sweet yet tangy passion fruit cream. Yummy.

Service throughout our lunch was spot on – very attentive, very friendly and we felt very well looked after. Sitting at the counter for us added to the enjoyment of the meal as we love watching the creative process of a kitchen. If you like tasty food – then get down to Chiswick now.

8/10

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