HEDONE – to launch the restaurant with no menu
Chef-patron Mikael Jonsson has never done things the so-called normal way. The path he taken has certainly not been the route most have travelled. Swedish born, Jonsson was fortunate enough to eat in some of the best restaurants in Europe before he had even left school. It was a world which intrigued him but it didn’t claim him. Instead he became a lawyer in Sweden before settling in France.
Now he has made his mark as a chef via his restaurant in Chiswick, he is destined to take another gamble. This time he is closing down Hedone and on the same site opening a new version of his restaurant still to be called Hedone. The site will be shut for 10 days and when it reopens will have undergone minor refurbishments including new furniture and a makeover of the dining room and most importantly, it will radically reduce the number seated in the dining room. Instead of seating 40 covers, Hedone will seat just 18 in the main room and up to 4 on stools overlooking the open kitchen.
The restaurant will be opened for dinner Tuesday to Saturday and for lunch on Saturday only.
The food will change dramatically. By reducing the number of covers served, the food will be more elaborate and it will be possible to use increasingly sophisticated techniques. Chef Jonsson will be offering his customers the opportunity to experience his restaurant which will no longer have a menu. Instead it will propose to its customers two different tasting ‘menus’ though neither will be written down. The prices have yet to be set but one will have more exclusive or rare ingredients. Whilst this may appear at first glance of a press statement to offer a limited choice, chef Jonsson believes that it will be an exciting and liberating customised experience for the many returning customers that he and business partner Aurelie Jean-Marie-Flore cherish.
This is a restaurant which concentrates on food and with the reduced numbers, chef Jonsson and his kitchen brigade will be able to pour all of their energy into creating more refined food, the type of dishes that produce ripples of amazement in its diners. They are aiming to secure the wow factor that causes regular guests to fly in to London. Some even eat lunch and dinner on the same day before their schedules force them to leave this island. Pescatarians will be catered for but the unadventurous diner need not book here.
The dishes will be constantly changing. Having no menu gives the chef the freedom to do this.
One aspect that chef Jonsson wants to create it is a work environment that will be more attractive to the staff, as today’s work hours simply lead to high turnover. With fewer services, working hours will be more forgiving than that which is the norm in fine dining establishments in the UK. “I want my chefs to come back to work every week rested and full of energy. It is just not the case today”.
Over the past four years London restaurant Hedone has emerged as a star of the international culinary scene. Chef-patron Mikael Jonsson’s rapid rise from amateur cook with no formal training to the height of recognition from Michelin has earned Hedone its deserved position as a destination restaurant. With the help of business partner Aurelie Jean-Marie-Flore, Hedone, named after the Greek goddess of pleasure, opened in July 2011 in Chiswick, a quiet corner of west London. At the time of opening, Jonsson had neither lived in the UK nor worked in a professional kitchen before.
Shortly after opening, praise from critics at The Evening Standard, The Guardian and The Financial Times rained in, before AA Gill, the notorious Sunday Times critic, visited in October 2011. Capturing the restaurant perfectly with his prose, he explained:
“Everything about this kitchen implies an unrelenting and committed hunt for idealised ingredients, prepared with an intensely cerebral and emotional attachment to true flavours and sound combinations.” AA Gill.
Gill awarded an especially rare 5/5 stars and one year later, a mere 14 months after opening, Chef Mikael Jonsson’s restaurant was awarded a Michelin star.
In early 2013, Hedone made The World’s 50 Best Restaurants Awards list for the first time at position 70. By 2014, it had climbed to position 63 and was placed 7th at The National Restaurant Awards (UK). Hedone progressed yet further up in the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list and knocking loudly on the top 50 door, it currently sits at position 60. Hedone is one of just four London restaurants to be awarded 18 out of 20 by critic Andy Hayler.
The objective of Chef Jonsson’s cooking is to bring the very best ingredients to the plate with much time dedicated to the relentless pursuit of the finest produce. At Hedone, the produce is handled with the upmost respect and Jonsson undertakes detailed experiments to build on his knowledge of how his star ingredients should be served. With meticulous standards and a high level of skill, the resulting dishes are an original expression of clear, precise and surprising flavour combinations. At Hedone favoured ingredients are often only available in small quantities. Dishes may change only hours before they are presented to guests. Tasting menus for different tables can vary so that the experience of meal at Hedone is a truly personal one.
Jonsson’s technical skill is evident in a taste of his brown sourdough, recently proclaimed by UK restaurant critic Fay Maschler to be ‘simply the best bread in Britain’. It has taken years to perfect. In March 2014, after Jonsson had quietly taken a Soho kitchen under his wing, his cooking was exposed by a well-tuned blogger who recognised the look and flavour of his uniquely crafted crust and crumb. The kitchen was that of Antidote, an intimate wine bar and restaurant just off of Carnaby Street. Several Michelin starred chefs in London have persuaded Jonsson to allow them to serve his famous bread in their restaurants. The bread is now also sold in Bayley & Sage in Chiswick, Parsons Green and Wimbledon branches.
When compiling the wine list, Jonsson seeks out suppliers and wines in search of the rare gem. Hedone’s list includes around 400 wines, with a focus on those hailing from Burgundy and the Loire Valley. Here Jonsson shines a light on little known bottles and winemakers with a list that is all about drinkability.
Chef-patron Mikael Jonsson. Photo credit: Richard Haughton
ABOUT MIKAEL JONSSON
Jonsson had worked successfully as lawyer in Gothenberg, in his home country, before relocating to the South of France. Though deeply interested in food from a young age, throughout his life severe food allergies plagued him, initially meaning a career in the kitchen was impossible. Later, when in his early forties, he began following a paleolithic diet which caused these allergies to disappear. At last, Jonsson could finally do what he had always dreamt of.
“No kitchen in London today pays quite such attention to ingredient quality”
Andy Hayler, July 2014
PRESS CONTACT: Spoon PR Ltd, Sarah Canet
T:+44 (7780 911630)
LOCATION: Hedone – 301-303 Chiswick High Road, London W4 4HH
PHONE: +44 (0)208 747 0377
SOCIAL TWITTER: https://twitter.com/HedoneLondon
HOURS: Lunch: Saturday: 12:00PM- 2:30PM
Dinner: Tuesday- Saturday: 6:30PM- 9:30PM
Closed Sunday and Monday