This was my second visit to Launceston Place, a French fine dining restaurant deeply buried in the Kensington neighbourhood. Named after the address Launceston Place, it’s thoroughly a local restaurant, one that you’ll likely to passby many times without knowing what you’ve been missing. My first visit last year wasn’t particular memorable, the food was nice and the setting was cosy and classy but it lacked the wow moment to leave a deep trace of memory. Now that’s all changed since Tim Allen joined the kitchen in February this year, who previously worked at the 2 Michelin starred Whatley Manor in Cotswold.
The food has clearly stepped up a level, ingredients are still seasonal British produce but the clever mix of ingredients and attention to detail have made it sensational. The duck egg, perfectly cooked to ooze but still holding its ground, lightly salted and accompanied with mildly sweet pea cream/voloute. The lamb cooked in different ways to announce the distinctive flavours of each cut and a pre-dessert of lemon cream to showoff the attention to detail. Prices are steep like other fine dining restaurants, 3 courses for £46 and 6 courses for £60.
Something also unique is the classy setting. Like a mew house transformed to a cosy restaurant, clean white tables against dark blue backgrounds with dimmed lights for dinner and warm nature lights during the day. From the outside, it could passby as a gastropub but when the staff folds the napkin as soon as you leave the seat, the sense of a down to earth fine dining kicks in. It’s not over the top like hotels but classy and cosy. It reminds me of Gauthier but not as romantic.
I revisited on August 2013, see photos here
Something to nibble
- I’ve only commented on the dishes I tried, sentences with ” ” are taken directly from the menu-
Slow cooked duck egg
"Sauteed girolles, pata negra lardo, cured foie gras and pea voloute"
The foie gras was surprisingly refreshing than oily fatty, its scented sweetness went really well with the pea voloute. Both were amazing with the lightly salted, still oozing duck egg. And so beautifully plated!
Summer vegetable salad
"Truffle cream cheese, roast Grelot onion’s, honey and mustard"
"Poached in olive oil, topped with airbag pork, smoked bacon, onion, apple and ras al hanout"
New season English Lamb
"Served in various ways, curried cauliflower, cherry tomatoes, fresh peas and broad beans"
"Salt cod bon bon, slow cooked chicken oysters, celeriac and brown butter chicken jus"
I really enjoyed this turbot with an unusual flavour of chicken jus, giving the perfectly cooked fish a richer flavour. Basically fish texture with a chicken flavour, very interesting.
Pre-dessert: lemon cream
The lemon cream was not special till I tried it with the granita and lemon shavings, which really broke through as well as enhanced the cream with gentle citrus flavours.
Baked English custard
"Scented with vanilla, pineapple roasted in Pedro Ximenex, crumbled coconut and apple ice cream"
Very interesting combinations, the apple ice cream matched well with the equally citrusy pineapple slices. The Pedro Ximenex coated pineapple chunks were enriched with a syrupy yet alcoholic sweetness. I’m not sure how well the elements combined together but each tasted great individually.
Milk chocolate mousse
"Poached pear, salted butter caramel, Breton pastry and chocolate sorbet"
Beautifully plated petite fours but my friend said the marshmallow tasted like candy (was too full after the dessert to eat these).
Verdict - 4/5
Food (very very good) - the food at Launceston Place has become a very special gem of Kensington. The dishes are cleverly matched to enhance the flavours as well as to look gorgeously beautiful. If you love the photos, imagine that it tastes even better than it looks.
Service (friendly and classy) - I love the setting here, the cosiness and the classy fine dining quietness. It’s a local place, hidden away between Kensington High Street and Gloucester Road, plenty of privacy and not overly extravagant. Service was superb too, dishes all arrived at the perfect time without any wait and staff were very attentive.
Cost (£63pp) - three of us each ordered the 3 course menu at £46, which billed to £187. We didn’t order any alcoholic drinks, just some tea and water.
1a Launceston Place
London W8 5RL
020 7937 6912