Hedone on Chiswick High Street may not be the usual gourmet’s destination but Swedish chef Mikael Jonsson changed the game. So here I go in my heels on a stormy Friday evening, I remember it was raining cats and dogs, my umbrella was too weak, my hat blown away on the way but anyhow, the place is worth it. You certainly heard that Hedone was recently awarded its first Michelin star which is even more impressive given that Jonsson opened the place in 2011 only – chapeau. My visit was perhaps just a week before the news were out and in fact it was long overdue after a well eaten friend kept telling me about it how much beyond this world the food there is. I was told to expect plain, fuss-free simple food with a chef being obsessed with high quality ingredients.
When we arrived we were offered the bar or a table, so we chose the bar as the kitchen is just behind and you can watch the team. I was quite surprised how calm and quiet it was.
The kitchen sent a basket with beautiful crab meat and apricot – I first thought it’s a tiny egg yolk. A perfect combination of saltiness and fruitiness.
Bread was as you’d expect sourdough and ticked all boxes, sticky, fresh, crispy outside, soft inside and a true indulgence with the butter which had a perfect texture. I do want to highlight that bread is delicious there and I could have well just eaten this as it was truly good which is not always the case at many other places and coming from THE bread country, I’m a fond bread eater.
I had to force myself stop eating bread as the kitchen sent a second bite which was lovely arranged in a small glas pot. Salmon tartare with beetroot sorbet and I cannot remember the other ingridient but think it was some kind of roe if I’m not mistaken.
The poached oysters were presented like stars on rocks topped with a beautiful purple flower. The oyster went very well with the apple (fair enough a combination seen at many places now) but I expected the pickled shallots to come out a bit stronger and I’m indifferent whether it’s good or bad that they did not. Of course you don’t want the overly acidic taste of the traditional shallot vinegar sauce but you’d never guessed that shallots were meant to be involved in the dish if not reading the menu.
The next dish could not look any plainer. It was a real joy, the meat of the fish was soft but on the other hand still firm enough to pull it off the bones. I heard from many people that Jonsson is obsessed about ingredients and does not overdo things and I guess this dish is the living proof and showcases his talent to overwhelm you with simplicity and sweeps you off your feet with just two things, namely the fish and the sauce. Well a lot was due to the sauce here and I am not a sauce person but this was so perfect that I could have easily eaten it in a soup bowl.
Ok let’s calm down and prepare for the broken duck’s egg which was accompanied by apricot (again). The plate came now a bit fuller decorated but still quite pure and nothing distracted from the key ingredients: the broken egg which had a wonderful waxy texture, the girolles, apricot (on top of the egg) and a sauce of parsley which again was beautiful in itself. It is often said that a true chef is known by its sauces and this can be found here.
The pork belly was well done and crunchy as you want it; Brussels sprouts can be a dull affair but couldn’t taste any better – it was just pure brussel sprouts, perhaps tossed in some butter but not too much as it can easily be done. Ohhhh… and the quince. It makes a very natural couple with the pork and adds some sweetness and contrast to the Brussels sprouts.
The wild sea bass was quite a meaty piece of fish. It came with Jerusalem artichokes and a type of hollandaise. For me the latter could have been skipped because the Jersulem artichokes were already creamy, so having another “fluid” component was a bit too much for my liking, although the vin jaune hollandaise was excellently made. But I could bathe in the Jersulem artichoke puree (ok, let’s not get into details here)… .
The deer in the next dish was certainly well done but the thing I still remember about it where the raw chestnuts. I think I never enjoyed them raw before, so it was a experience. The taste is a bit shy but that makes it even more precious. Overall a perfect autumn dish with the mushrooms, game and chestnuts. A true feast for meat lovers.
While waiting for desert, we watched the team preparing the deserts. I told you to ask for being seated at the bar.
What you see being nicely prepared was a lemon variation with a tiny lemon sorbet to the left, merengue in between the layers; I think the green leaves were major an if I’m not mistaken. A glass of 2010 Riesling Munsterer Auslese made a good company. Although we’re talking deserts now, you won’t find any impertinent sweetness, so as simple as it’s written on the menu, as simple it comes on the plate and is lemon in different textures.
The same can be found with the second desert, “Hedone’s chocolate with passionfruit sorbet”. The sorbet was delicious but being in a close relationship with my gelato machine, I am confident to say, I can do similar sorbet, so let’s skip it and talk about the chocolate cake. It is sheer beauty on a plate. Let’s see the sorbet as a crown on the head of a very elegant piece of crunchy praline. There was no unnecessary sugar, the chocolate was not too dark (another thing seen with many places) which can sometimes give you a too bitter taste, it was just perfect with a nutty, crunchy layers inside. The joy was rounded off with a glass of 2000 Banyuls Grand Cru (Vial-Magnères).
The evening would not have been complete without being pampered with even more treats and deserts. A mini Gugelhupf was accompanied with macarons filled with a passionfruit curd. The curd was a dream.