Outstanding Meal at Launceston Place [London]
We had a wonderful meal here last week. Very pretty dining room with a wonderful table for two in a curved banquette overlooking the quiet street scene. Highlights included their superb potted foie gras with quince jelly, the delicate hot smoked halibut, and the roast lamb, which bested any version I've had recently in NYC, including Eleven Madison's! Oh and the salt baked potatoes with the lamb! The cheese course of all English selections was outstandingly curated by our waiter and, even though ordered for one, very generous for two to share. Drinks were excellent as well: from the icy as ordered martini to the very fairly priced wines by the glass (particularly the Jurancon Cauhape w/ the foie gras) recommended by the friendly American sommelier. Yes, London is very expensive, but at stg48 pp (approx $75) for 3 courses, Launceston Place compares favorably with NYC restaurants in that price range Only warning is don't try to walk here from High Street Kensington unless you allow plenty of time to get lost in the lovely maze of mews.
i have been howling for a while that it is one of the best deals around.
and british lamb is far, far superior to the us version, god knows why.
I finally made it! And this is now officially my second favourite place in the UK after The Sportsman. Fact.
In terms of good signs of a restaurant...while we were having coffee the waiter started clearing tablecloths around us and I started having a word, at which point Himself pointed out it was 1am and we'd been there for 5 hours, and maybe, just maybe, it was OK for them to clear the tables...to be at a restaurant for 5 hours and at no point feel bored, or let down, or not looked after...I think it should be renamed Very Special Place.
As has been mentioned, the dining rooms are lovely - black walls, white nappery, would like to replicate at home. Kir Royale to start with devilled potato crisps tied up in a little ribbon, sweet. We had the tasting menu:
Amuse bouche of celery sorbet, walnut foam, candied walnut and apple batons - deconstructed waldorf. I am usually a hater of foams and swooshes, but this one actually made sense.
Beef tartare with anchovy and chervil toast, then roasted scallop with sea purslane and buckthorn (someone's been to Noma) - great. They cook the scallop in its shell, flat on the pan so it steams in its own juices. Lovely.
Truffled duck egg on toast, oh my. Perfectly poached, generously truffled.
Baked sole with brown butter, shrimp, more purslane.
Roast venison loin with beetroot and artichoke for him; milk fed lamb chops with sorrel for me. I won :)
Lemon posset with marjoram jelly as a palate cleanser then chocolate souffle with Laphroiag cream. I'm not a chocolate person but this were grand.
The sommelier was super helpful - we alternated between a 2006 Meerlust Rubicon and an Alsation Pinot Gris, both great choices.
Can't recommend enough.
1 Launceston Pl, Kensington, Greater London W8 5, GB
I finally made it here for lunch yesterday and certainly agree with all who have highly praised Launceston Place. The food was superb. I met a friend who had a long layover at LHR, and she (who travels world-wide) non-stop for business agreed that she had made a great choice for our get-together.
I like, not love, asparagus, but the starter with a beautiful pumpkin-seed mousseline (an odd choice for me) was perfection. I also had the sole with shrimp and potatoes (regular menu), and the sole was among the best I've had in years. My friend had the watercress soup and chicken with bacon, and we shared her treacle tart for dessert. The pastry was thin and buttery, but I must say I've had better treacle tarts.
Who cares about slight flaws when there are wonderful crisps to eat with a pre-lunch drink, fantastic rustic bread, the 'intermezzo' posset that helen b describes above, and to top it all off.. a sweet little hot sponge to dip in whipped cream.. after dessert!
When the sommelier heard I was going to his former workplace, the Napa Valley, we had a very interesting discussion about wineries and more. Launceston definitely compares to The Sportsman when it comes to quality.
1 Launceston Pl, Kensington, Greater London W8 5, GB
As zuriga1's dining companion from yesterday, I am happy to concur with her (and everyone's) extremely positive opinions on Launceston Place. Really, this was one of the best meals I have had in ages. This restaurant is doing pretty much everything right: sincerely friendly service from start to finish (we even had a long conversation with one Indian-born waiter on Indian restaurants in London, and your name came up, howler!), delicious bread/amuses/intermezzos landing on the table with regularity, and of course a very nice menu as well. I was particularly pleased with my watercress soup, which is not an easy thing to do successfully. I wish we had had enough stomach capacity to try the cheese plate, because the selection looked great, but I couldn't stop eating that bread!
I will definitely put this in the book to return to the next time I have an opportunity to spend time in London. It worked out extremely well for a lunch layover from LHR, being a quick walk from the Piccadilly Line!