Launceston Place is a Michelin starred restaurant that resides in a charmingly peaceful street in Kensington. It’s a D&D restaurant – they own Quaglino’s, Skylon, Bluebird and Coq D’Argent to name but a few but this is their only restaurant to own a Michelin star.
There’s two dining rooms and both have a fairly odd layout so no two tables are the same. It’s a bit like eating in the downstairs of someone’s house – someone who has a really, really lovely house. Dark grey walls, plush carpets and tables adorned with white tablecloths made for a beautiful space with a really relaxed and comfortable atmosphere.
We avoided the very reasonable sounding set lunch which was £25 for three courses and went for the ‘Market Menu’ which was £48 for three courses with plenty of choice for each course.
A lovely little amuse bouche of cauliflower mousse with curried lentils was divine. Some little choux pastry puffs filled with a rich cheesy sauce were equally as good along with some Parmesan fritters and a truffle sauce. Things had started off seriously well.
I opted for the mackerel to start which came cold smoked and grilled with a hot smoked rillette, variations of cucumber, borage flowers and a horseradish sorbet. It was a very attractive plate of food. The cucumber worked well with the perfectly cooked piece of mackerel but it was the horseradish sorbet that really brought the dish to life (I could have done with more of it though).
My gentleman companion went for the slow cooked duck egg with Wye Valley asparagus, fresh morels, pressed duck confit and Madeira infused with morels. Again this was a stunning (and very busy) looking dish and although the egg white looked a little translucent and undercooked it wasn’t and the yolk was gloriously gooey. The asparagus tips were the chunkiest we’ve ever seen although they were a touch on the cold side sadly but the warm vibrant green asparagus cappuccino more than made up for it.
Main courses were triumphantly delicious. My Iberico pork served three ways; sausage, belly and pluma with heritage tomatoes, broad beans and dried fig reduction was a flavour sensation. The pork belly was soft and succulent with a sweet and sticky coating topped with cracking popcorn – does it get better than that?! Yes it does actually, the pluma (a lean cut from the pigs neck) had so much porky flavour it was incredible. Some broad beans added freshness and the heritage tomatoes provided sweetness making this an insanely tasty dish.
My gentleman companion went for the Rhug estate organic chicken with aromatic farce (stuffing) of its leg rolled in puff pastry, mushroom purée, leeks baked in embers on a barbecue, wild garlic and it’s juices enriched with rosemary. The chicken breast was as succulent as it gets and the buttery pastry encasing rich leg meat was gorgeous. The thickest of chicken gravies was poured over the dish at the table and it was unequivocally superb. The leeks had a charred barbecue taste which was strong yet not overpowering and really clever.
Next was a little lemony pre-dessert served in a pretty glass dish which reminded me of something similarly delicious I’d recently devoured at Restaurant Story. There was lemon curd ice cream, lemon posset, lemon granita and meringue shards. It was sweet, it was sharp and it was delicious.
For dessert I went for the passion fruit soufflé with coconut sorbet and lime zest which looked great. The soufflé was light and delicate and totally moreish, I just wish there had been another couple of scoops of the coconut sorbet as it was so delightful. The waiter poured a thick passion fruit syrup into the centre of the souffle making it even more indulgent.
My gentleman companion opted for the baked English custard scented with vanilla, pineapple roasted in Pedro Ximenez and pineapple ice cream which isn’t the sort of thing I would personally order but he really enjoyed it. The pineapple was sweet and sticky which complimented the creamy vanilla custard and crumbly pastry bottom perfectly.
Service throughout our lunch really was spot on. Staff were friendly and chatty making us feel very comfortable indeed. That along with head chef Tim Allen’s intricate and technically accomplished cooking made for a really enjoyable lunch. If I lived in Kensington I’d eat there every night!