Once a favourite of Princess Diana, who apparently stated she admired the collection of small rooms that occupy the Georgian townhouse in which Launceston Place is situated, the restaurant entertains playfully, whilst delivering tradition and flavour.
Head Chef Ben Murphy has added, to taste, a sprinkle of modernity and fun to this traditional restaurant in the typically stuffy end of town near Gloucester Road tube. The tables are adorned in clean white linen, something your grandmother would love, yet the amuse-bouches are served with a small plastic spade to dig out the smoked haddock mousse. The up-tight amongst us may feel it is a little gimmicky, but they’ll die miserable so let them be.
Bread is treated as a course in itself. The chorizo pancetta and lardo bread with yoghurt and red pepper butter was inevitably delicious – the yoghurty-tang and peppery-sweetness of the butter cutting through the meat fat.
To follow came burrata and cucumber which cleansed the palate well and prepared us for the foie gras course and a short rib plate. The latter was served with smoked eel and drizzled in a smooth, clean and thick plum sauce. The smoky fish, sweet plum and rich meat were an orchestra of flavours that performed a beautiful cacophony of noise in my mouth. 10/10 would bang.
Between courses our waiter cleared the table and removed crumbs with a tiny, hand-held Henry Hoover. Another nod to the fun yet serious tone.
In keeping with the ‘new vs tradition’ theme, the tiramisu arrived looking unlike anything that resembled the epitome of Italian dessert. Nonetheless, alike everything else I had put in my mouth that afternoon, it was splendid.
The set lunch menu was affordable, tasty and a great reflection of Murphy’s vision for the place. Perhaps it is because I am young and in possession of an old soul, however the contrast between tradition and playfulness very much pleased me. I wasn’t even thinking about it by the end of my experience, it just felt right.
Food – 8/10
Service – 9/10
Experience – 9/10