Easter calls for something special, doesn't it?
Well, I think so, anyway. But maybe that's just me looking for excuses. Whatever. We decided to go along with it, and booked in for lunch at the newly re-opened Launceston Place, tucked away in a quiet and ridiculously desirable residential street (average house price £3.5M - cough, splutter) in South Kensington.
Good Friday, then, was the appointed date. I'll spare you my foodie wibblings-on (hence 'a review of sorts'), and just let you peruse the menu for yourself...
... before moving you swiftly along to our first pre-prandial nibble - potato crisps with herring taramasalata....
... and then the second - a dreamy cauliflower and white onion soup, with a magnificent head of truffled dream.... sorry, cream....
... followed by our starters: the roast duck foie gras with rhubarb compote and elderflower milk soup...
... and the scallops with foaming apple mousse.
So far, so good. In fact, very good. Very good. In the interest of research, we felt we had to keep going. The things I have to do... ;)
A couple of mains, then, of the milk-fed lamb:
... which was so good that it deserves another photo:
Wonderful. From the different cuts of perfectly cooked lamb, through to the well-balanced and spectacular beetroot puree, it was all absolutely exquisite, and much more than the sum of its very fine parts. One of the best main courses I've had in quite a while.
As if we weren't doing well enough already, on came the next amuse - a distinctly Easter-themed and deliciously eggy creme brulee with hazelnut crumb...
Oooff! (Or should that be 'Oeuf!'?). Starting to feel a little full now. But gamely, we soldiered on.
Puddings. For my all-too-willing accomplice, a warm chocolate truffle with oatmeal porridge and bay leaf ice cream...
The truffle was wicked. It should be licensed. The bay leaf ice cream was a real stand-out, too. Limey, with a hint of smoke about it. A great dish. I wasn't allowed to sample the porridge. So draw your own conclusions.
Oh, and I had this....
...toffee mousse, banana sorbet, and walnut cream (at the bottom). With the finest, most delicate biscotti (biscotto?) I've ever had to pleasure to eat.
Oh, you want a spoonful?
OK, then, here you go:
Again, each element was outstanding, and lighter than light - but together they were sensational. A great end to a memorable meal.
Marks out of 10? Probably 9. My only minor quibble was with the foie gras - the rhubarb was perhaps a shade dominant, but it was only a shade. Everything else was a complete joy.
As was the entire experience. The restaurant itself is light, cosy, and beautifully furnished, with plenty of space between the tables. No unseemly rubbing of elbows here.
The staff were all suitably attentive - without being overbearing - charming, and keen to please, from the restaurant manager to the junior wine waiter.
And the chef? Tristan himself came out to chat towards the end of service. A more gentle, pleasant, modest, slightly shy (in a you-want-to-mother-him sort of way) chef you couldn't wish to meet. No sign of monstrous ego here. Apart from mine.
It's very early days for the newly revamped Launceston Place. If our experience is anything to go by, I sincerely hope it's a massive success and that it's around for a long time yet. So long as they always hold me a table.
Oh, and we're already planning a return visit. Obviously. ;) Well, what would you do?