Hedone – what’s the story?

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“No kitchen in London today pays quite such attention to ingredient quality” Andy Hayler, July 2014 

Over the past three years London restaurant Hedone has emerged as a particular 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 is one of just four London restaurants to be awarded a score of 18 out of 20 by critic Andy Hayler, who is shortly to pay his 50th visit.

Hedone - Interior 3 © Richard Haughton

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 examples. At Hedone, the selected meat, fish, fruit and vegetables are all 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 and precise flavour combinations. At Hedone favoured produce, currently including Dorset lobster and heritage breeds of chicken such as Coucou de Rennes and Geline de Touraine, are often only available in small quantities. Consequently, tasting menus for different tables vary so that the experience of meal at Hedone is a truly personal one.

Homemade brown sourdough bread at Hedone © Richard Haughton

Homemade brown sourdough bread at Hedone © Richard Haughton

Jonsson’s technical skill is evident in a taste of his brown sourdough, recently proclaimed by UK restaurant critic Fay Maschler to be ‘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 since persuaded Jonsson to allow them to serve his famous bread in their restaurants. Loaves are now also sold in Mortimer and Bennett, a deli local to Hedone. Demand has been such that the shop’s owners have imposed a strict one loaf per person policy.

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.

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.

Hedone - Mikael Jonsson © Richard Haughton

Mikael Jonsson © Richard Haughton

Amol Rajan’s recent review of the restaurant which appeared in The Independent on Sunday a few weeks ago can be seen here.

Hedone - Provence fresh figs, elderflower, lemon and thyme © Mikael Jonsson

Provence fresh figs, elderflower, lemon and thyme © Mikael Jonsson

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