Hedone is the brainchild of Mikael Johnsson, a Swedish former lawyer and food blogger. It opened in sleepy Chiswick in 2011, winning numerous plaudits and a Michelin star after only 14 months. Mikael was also an ingredients consultant in a past life, and apparently before opening Hedone he spent a year travelling up and down the UK to source the ingredients to use in his new restaurant. The food is classical and highly refined French cuisine, but manages to seem unfussy and let the quality of the ingredients speak through. We went along on a quiet Wednesday night and sat at the kitchen countertop, which gave us a great view of the chefs at work. The man himself is a large and wiry presence in the kitchen, bustling around and firmly passing on instructions to his underlings.
We opted for the carte blanche tasting menu which offers eleven courses for £85. The highlight of the meal was roast grouse which had been shot the previous day on the “glorious twelfth”, the first day of grouse hunting in the UK. The meat was light and tender, but with rich almost smoky undertones. The other standout courses were a sweet, melt in the mouth Dorset squid paired with flavoursome white Paimpol beans, and pork belly with eel and various raw, pickled and roasted radishes. Both of these dishes were composed with subtle genius – the freshness and quality of the ingredients came to the fore and were not obscured by cheffy techniques. Because it was a quiet night and we were at the countertop the great man himself presented the majority of our plates, proffering a few hushed words of description and pointing the odd robust finger at notable components of our plates. His passion is evident but he seems to be a man who does not suffer fools gladly, so I recommend shutting up and listening if he ever approaches. Everything else at Hedone is very relaxed, the bread is possibly the best available in London and the food is exemplary, I can see why this is one of Andy Hayler’s favourite restaurants (according to our waiter he has eaten at Hedone over 50 times).
Verdict: it trumps Gymkhana as my dining highlight of 2014 9.5/10
Dorset crab, pistachio mayonnaise, Charentais (provencal) melon
Mediterranean tomato variation, with gazpacho, tomato and dill sorbet, basil and almonds
Suckling pig belly, smoked eel, picked and raw radishes
Red Grouse (from Yorkshire), sourdough consume, foie gras and sorrel
Millefeuille with raspberry