Launceston Place is as ‘Michelin’ as they come. Words like dependable, robust and flavourful practically leap to mind.
There are some restaurants that have been on our hit-list for years, but for some reason seem destined to stay there.
For a long time it appeared that D&D’s London flagship Launceston Place would be one such establishment. But against the odds, all that changed. Almost three years since we first earmarked it, we finally trekked over to Kensington to see what we’ve been missing.
Launceston Place has been well reviewed in the past but as far as I can tell, the last time a notable critic sized them up was way back 2008. Since then, of course, lots has changed; notably the arrival of head chef Tim Allen in early 2012 and the restaurant winning its Michelin star later that year.
If you ever need to book for a special occasion, this could be a good shout. It’s not too fussy, the cooking is excellent and (as far as Michelin starred restaurants go) it won’t completely break the bank.
Through the week they offer tasting and a la carte menus but on a Friday and Saturday evening it’s tasting menu or bust. Unfortunately for the staff, the lack of choice was a bug bear for most of the people around us. We overheard a few awkward conversations which led to bespoke menus for some. Surely this defeats the object for the kitchen. We, on the other hand, were delighted with the sound of the menu and at £70 for six courses, it’s decent value, especially for this part of town.
Heritage tomato, grain mustard and cauliflower was a fresh start, full of flavour. Although the fact that it was nigh-on fridge cold was a definite minus for me. Pork jowl, braised lettuce, red chicory and English plums was a stand out course, what a great cut of meat. It was rich without being too fatty and incredibly tender. The Quail was another treat. It came in two parts; hay smoked legs and breast, served with a crispy egg and corn. The smokiness was intense without being overpowering and the egg was perfectly runny as you’d expect.
Hand dived scallop, truffle cassonade and green apples upped the bar even further. Not much can better this combination, with the apple adding a nice sweetness, crunch and acidity to the dish. Lamb with flavours of Provence was superbly cooked but sadly for me the dominant flavour of the dish was basil, overpowering the other components (unless you put it to one side). Nevertheless it was a lovely piece of succulent lamb.
Lemon curd ice cream was deliciously creamy yet managed to act as a refreshing palate cleanser. My dining partner commented that he’d be more than happy with a giant bowlful of the stuff. In some respects, we preferred it to the main dessert but that’s a close call. The caramelised white chocolate ice cream and aero was to die for, but I could easily have done without the raspberry delice, which didn’t really fit in.
Service was polite and efficient, even if the location and clientèle perhaps demand that there’s what I’d term to be ‘a slight air of stuffiness’. Then again if that means I don’t have to sit clashing elbows with the person on the next table (like at some other places I could mention) then maybe that’s not such a bad thing.
Launceston Place is as ‘Michelin’ as they come. Words like dependable, robust and flavourful practically leap to mind. The food was easily worthy of one-star and this is somewhere that I’d happily return to. Although in reality I’ll probably never get around to it.
Meal for two inc. service: £157.50 (Tasting menu £70pp)
Meal for two inc. drinks and service approx. £200
Address: 1A Launceston Place, W8 5RL
Tel: 020 7937 6912