Tuesday, 25 March 2008

lunching at Launceston Place - a review of sorts

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.

Launceston Place exterior

So? I hear you say... Well, the 'so' is that it re-opened on 18 March, with a new head chef at the helm - Tristan Welch, formerly head chef at the 2 Michelin-starred Petrus. On hearing the news, I felt a compelling need to get ahead of the crowd and go before it becomes the latest must-visit on the London restaurant scene.

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...

Launceston Place menu 1

Launceston Place menu 2

... before moving you swiftly along to our first pre-prandial nibble - potato crisps with herring taramasalata....

Launceston Place amuse 1

... and then the second - a dreamy cauliflower and white onion soup, with a magnificent head of truffled dream.... sorry, cream....

Launceston Place amuse 2

... followed by our starters: the roast duck foie gras with rhubarb compote and elderflower milk soup...

Launceston Place duck foie gras

... and the scallops with foaming apple mousse.

Launceston Place scallops

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:

Launceston Place lamb

... which was so good that it deserves another photo:

Launceston Place lamb 2

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...

Launceston Place amuse 3

Launceston Place amuse 3 close-up

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...

Launceston Place chocolate truffle

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....

Launceston Place toffee mousse, banana sorbet, walnut cream

...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:

Launceston Place toffee mousse etc spoonful

Good, huh?

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.

Launceston Place interior

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?

Launceston Place on Urbanspoon


Pixie said...

Ah Ghetti, tease me senseless with all these beautifully photographed photos of food. I can only dream of tasting them for myself from a distance.

David Hall said...

What a treat!!! Sounded fantastic you lucky things. That menu has got me drooling. Nice one!


Jules said...

All of those dishes look amazing!

Maria V said...

brilliant review, great photos, how did you manage to fit it all in???

Tartelette said...

What a great meal! I can't stop reading that menu!

Manggy said...

oh mannnnnnnnnnn.

I think I can only dream of such exquisite meals. Sigh. Beautiful pics too.

Browners said...

What beautiful pictures and incredible looking food. Looks like I've got another restaurant to add to the "must go to" list.

Are you around on Saturday/Sunday for the Fat Delicessan?

Bellini Valli said...

This would be my way to spend Easter:D

michelle @ tns said...

i'm drooling with envy. but i think my favorite thing is the "drunken flamed quail," which i want to start using as an insult.

"what the hell were you thinking, you drunken flamed quail?!"

Simply...Gluten-free said...

Wow, it looks amazing. What a treat.

Helen said...

The food all looks stunning, I am drooling here! I have to say though, are those scallops on a pebble?!

We Are Never Full said...

wow. those pictures are beautiful. A few I wanted to dive into! Lovely blog, btw. Now, if the dollar weren't so damn weak, I'd consider a blowout meal here on our trip 'home' to visit the husband's family this summer. But, damn that dollar!

Thanks for the post though - for a minute I thought I was there with you... that is until my stomach growled.

amy @ http://www.weareneverfull.com

Mike of Mike's Table said...

THat looks fantastic start to finish! Those dishes all look spectacular...sounds like quite a meal

Heather said...

Gorgeous. That menu is to die for - I am totally going to steal that bay leaf ice cream idea. I assume this was a daytime meal? The photos were exquisite.

Pete said...

oh my god I want to go there NOW! Amazing pics. I don't know how you managed to capture the dishes so well without loads of set up, lighting and styling, which I imagine would be pretty tricky in a crowded restaurant. Nice one.

missbliss said...

Kudos to you for getting to a lovely restuarant before the hoi polloi!

How were the slice of apple with the scallops? That looks like something I'd like to try.

How on earth did they decapitate those eggs so perfectly?? Impressed!!


I'm always a bit torn when it comes to such fancy restaurants. There are elements I just can't get over not liking. What follows are some of the things I'd be picky about...

the "milk-fed" lamb almost made me cry... (how pathetic I am)

I'm always a bit dubious about food that is frothy (the apple stuff and some of the sauce for the lamb).

I couldn't help but imagine the cutlery scraping the rock with the scallops, totally set my teeth on edge! Was it OK? (Had scallops for dinner tonight myself!)

I've never liked taramasalata, and the herring stuff looked a bit like wallpaper paste :o0 and there were far too few crisps for my liking ;)

I think it'll be a while before we can afford to go to such a lovely place ourselves!

Pia K said...

Oh this looks and sounds lovely! If you omit all the non-vegetarian things in the food I'd happily devour it all, especially thos divine looking desserts, *yum*.

ros said...

I used to walk past this place on my way to college everyday. I think that was before the renovation- the menu seemed very traditional then but I wanted to go becuase it was the one place I saw serving woodcock.

Blimey, they do like their foam, don't they!? Hopefully when I'm back in the West I'll give it a try.

Rachael said...

I really want some scallops with apple foam. It just seems divine.
Lovely sounding afternoon!

Anonymous said...

Holy Jeebus!
Looks like an incredible meal.
Thanks for sharing.

Damn i'm hungry now.

Lizzie said...

This place looks great - on the strength of your review, we're booked in for a couple of weeks' time. I look forward to it greatly...!

Browners said...

Wow. This looks unbeliveable. But tell me... how do you manage to take such brilliant photographs? Any tips greatly appreciated!

Cowie and I are so keen to go here now!

Jennifer said...

Oh my god - this looks incredible! I want to go. Shifting higher up the list...!!

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