Thursday, 16 September 2010

Lunch at Launceston Place

Yesterday @titianred treated me to lunch - and it was the opportunity for us to both sample the delights of Launceston Place. The restaurant first came to my attention when the lovely Steve Groves, sous chef there, won Celebrity Masterchef last year. His food was amazing, and after he won, he chose to stay as he said he was learning so much. And food bloggers have written delighted posts about the place. We spent a very happy morning goggling in the jewellery gallery at the V&A and, appetites aroused, staggered across to leafy Launceston Place, standing quietly in a leafy corner of South Ken. Comfortably seated next to the window, we perused both lunch menus but stuck to budget with the three course £20 lunch. Astonishing value, as it turned out. Before our starters arrived, we were presented with an amuse bouche of yoghurt sorbet and lightly pickled diced cucumber. This boded well, as the icey silkiness disappeared.
Then the bread - a lovely sourdough - and butter arrived. We suspected that the butter-on-a-pebble is a Launceston Place tease to see which customers can perfect butter balancing. Our butter slid from side to side but did stay put.
Was it yoghurt sorbet or ice cream? Not sure, but it was lovely. And soon gone. The starters arrived as soon as we were finished. Henri had gone with a beef, beet and wild garlic rissotto. With a bone that looked just like my father's napkin ring.
Henri was uttering quiet squeaks of joy. I sneaked a mouthful and it was fabulous, with melting marrow and an intense blast of flavour. Henri took a bite of my starter and said, 'That's lovely, but I'm glad I'm having mine,' which is exactly how I felt.
I'd chosen the duck egg on toast with Somerset truffle and boy, was it good. The egg was besides, rather than on, toast, and it was surrounded with shaved truffle and wonderous truffle goo. Not so much a up front whack on the taste buds but more a shimmer round the palate then insinuating itself into the memory and inducing a desire for more. Heavenly. Contender for best plate of food I've had this year.
Henri's main was saltmarsh lamb, herb consomme and pomme purees. I think we'd both expected this to turn up as lamb carved off the bone - but no, it was a lamb turret, crowned with herbal crust. Henri loved it - meltingly tender meat perfectly complemented by the crusty top and herb consomme.
Meanwhile, I was tucking into Cornish mackeral, cured cucumber and pickled onions. Someone spent a very long time pin-boning the fish which was cooked with a fine crisp skin and worked beautifully with the cucumber. The acidity of the onions worked well but I did miss a fruity punch to finish off the dish. But a lovely plate of food. With the main plates whipped away, we were offered a tiny jar of a most luscious lemon possett. We wolfed this down so quickly that there was no time to take a photo.
For pud, we both went with the dark chocolate and  raspberry mousse - a wonderful concoction with shiny raspberry lightness over sugared berries and a dense and serious chocolate base. We were given big spoons but unanimously demanded smaller ones so that we could make the sensation last.  
Reeling with the pleasure of it, we were left giggling when we were presented with plate of two jars - baby madeleines warm from the oven and egg white-lightened cream. Ohmygod. Delicious and almost too much for two full tums. Almost - we did our best to demolish this last delight.
I love this place. The food was gorgeous, the service was superb, and I think it's the first time ever that the bill has arrived exactly when you want it. It's the kind of place that you rave about in the office the next day - which I did.
Thank you Henri for a marvellous lunch, and to Launceston Place for living up to all expectations.


meemalee said...

This is why Launceston Place is my favourite restaurant!

Steve has just left sadly (hopefully to open his own place), but the rest of the team continue to produce stellar work ;)

fran39 said...

Oo - great news about Steve!
Agree, MiMi - it is the most wonderful place. I need to go back soon...

The Grubworm said...

Ooo - £20 - for all that. Wow, seems like an absolute steal. Do they do this lunch on a weekend - it would make for a superb combo with a museum visit.

fran39 said...

Hi Grubworm - I think they do this on a Saturday. There's a special Sunday lunch menu when they do a roast with many trimmings. You're right, it's astonishing value.

mangocheeks said...

Hi so lovely to see you back blogging. I was wondering about you and have come by a number of times:D

Your meal at the Launceston Place, sounds grand.

fran39 said...

Thanks Mango - good to be back!