The Ledbury will reportedly reopen at the Notting Hill location it vacated in June 2020, with Eater London understanding that the new iteration of chef Brett Graham’s two-Michelin-starred restaurant will be more informal: A “brasserie,” much less a starched table-clothed fine dining room.
News of the Ledbury’s return is no less surprising than its sudden, indefinite closure three months into the COVID-19 pandemic in the summer of last year.
Graham, who part-owns the restaurant, did not respond to Eater’s request for comment about the reopening. Eater understands from sources that the chef-restaurateur and members of the Ledbury’s kitchen and front-of-house teams have been working at the Harwood Arms in Fulham, the Michelin-starred gastropub, at which Graham has been a director since 2009. Head chef Sally Abé departed the Harwood Arms in April 2021, recently launching a new hotel restaurant called the Pem in Westminster. Former Ledbury head chef Jake Leach took over the kitchen following her departure.
In June last year, when explaining the decision to close, Graham was deliberate in his insistence that the closure was not necessarily permanent; rather, at that time and with so much uncertainty, he saw no way in which the restaurant could reopen. It had been open on Ledbury Road in Notting Hill since 2005, becoming one of the world’s best restaurants during its 15-year tenure.
Then, government policy, scientific advice, and the future of hospitality was largely unknown; the progress of a vaccine roll-out would be months away. “We can’t keep customers and staff safe,” Graham said at the time. “If there was an outbreak at the Ledbury, then it would be devastating. I just can’t think of any way to [reopen].”
Graham’s decision to close in June 2020 came a month before what was then an unconfirmed reopening date for restaurants. Any form of social distancing wouldn’t work at his restaurant and that he had no confidence that the Ledbury’s customer base — many of whom were international tourists — would be able to revisit in the near future. “We can’t operate the restaurant with any form of social distancing — even if it was a one-metre. The economy is smashed; there are no customers in hotels, no international flights,” he said. “The [existing] business model is not viable,” he said.
It would appear now that Graham and his partners have created a business model that works in the post-lockdown era; a restaurant that may well be more informal, but with a reputation-and-a-half that precedes it.