"Faithfully British ingredients prepared with great flair"Review Rating: Reviewed by Leila
Tucked away down a quiet residential Kensington street, Launceston Place was once a favourite of the late Princess Diana. Then the D&D group (formerly Conran Restaurants) took over in 2007, doing away with some of the chintz and bringing down prices. This year they’ve undergone further change with new chef Tim Allen joining in February, fresh from the two Michelin-starred Whatley Manor. He seems to have brought some of this stardust with him, as Launceston Place has just been awarded its first Michelin star.
Allen’s ingredients are seasonal and faithfully British, but there’s nothing predictable about his execution. Take the monkfish, a meaty fish that stands up well to bold flavours. Here it is poached in olive oil and coated in airbag pork, in other words crumbled crackling, adding saltiness and crunch. He pairs this with a chunk of juicy, smoked pork, caramelised onion and apple sauce. Another starter has quail roasted on the barbecue and stuffed with sage, served with charred cauliflower, giant raisins and a fruity Sauternes sauce.
Iberico pork tenderloin is very moist and velvety, its richness a contrast to the fresh flavours of cauliflower carpaccio, crisp apple, grilled tomatoes and celeriac purée. The new season English lamb is rare and bright pink, with wonderfully gamey lamb belly rillettes, and a very autumnal choice of veg: curried cauliflower, green beans and pumpkin seeds.
Desserts are a fromage frais mousse with plump strawberries, lemon curd sorbet, mini meringues and a chocolate and pistachio crisp, and a baked English custard which is slightly bland, with fresh pineapple as well as roasted in Pedro Ximenez, the only dish that falls a little flat.
We are fed so many amuse bouche throughout the meal that we are full to bursting by the end of it. Moreish little balls of choux pastry filled with rich, hot béchamel, curried lentils topped with a creamy cauliflower foam, a roasted scallop with glazed pork belly, and a pre-dessert of lemon sorbet and lemon cream with subtle hints of rosemary fill the gaps between courses. This exquisite meal doesn’t cost the earth either; we ate from the market menu (the alternative being the tasting menu) which offers three courses for £46.
Leila reviewed Launceston Place on Wed 17 Oct 2012