After seeing a few reviews for Launceston Place around, I thought I ought to make a trip there for lunch one workday, seeing that it’s so close to my workplace. Mirna and I had had quite a rubbish Thursday a couple weeks ago and so took ourselves out for a nice lunch the following day. Friday’s lunch was the £18 prix fixe lunch. This was quite the occasion as we normally just go for a quick bite!
The restaurant was almost empty when we entered shortly after noon and being seated at a table by the window, we were shown three different menus! One for a la carte, one for the set lunch and one for the tasting menu – nice to have a choice but we knew what we were there for. After we’d made our selections from the menu (there was a choice of 3 starters, 3 mains, and 2 puddings/1 cheese), this was brought to our table:
They were homemade potato crisps with onion seasoning and cheddar cheese dip. This was the first of the various amuses that we would be served in between the actual three courses of the lunch. The crisps were almost paper thin and very crisp and quite delicious with the dip. Unfortunately, the dip was quite thick and the crisps too thin to support it, meaning that I kept losing my crisp in the bowl. I should have done what another lady did and used my knife to eat all the dip!
Another extra came after this – a celeriac soup with toasted almonds served in a gorgeous glass, double-walled teacup by Jing. (Never had Jing teas? They’re wonderful) After this thick and creamy soup, we were starting to get full and we hadn’t even started on our actual lunch!
For our first course, we both chose the spider crab risotto with garlic butter. This was presented in shallow glass bowls with a spider crab shell on top. The waiter set down the bowls, whisked off the shells and left us to it. The risotto was cooked perfectly, tasted of wonderful crab broth, and had visible flakes of crab within. The garlic butter, though tasty, was a bit too copious for us; its strength distracted from the crabbiness of it all. Still, overall, it was a nice risotto.
I chose the venison casserole and parsnip puree for my main. A large chunk of venison on the bone (not sure what cut this was) was braised till extremely tender; it was quite delicious and not at all gamey. The parsnip puree was smooth and tasted very much of the root, and was garnished with fried parsnip crisps. However, this dish was served in a deep bowl (almost a casserole) which made for very difficult eating. It was a challenge to wield one’s knife and fork within that confined space and the venison would inevitably be smeared in the puree. I would have preferred it on a plate or at least a wide, shallow bowl.
Mirna had the grilled trout with caramelised onions and English mustard. I tried a bit of the trout and was surprised to taste a tender trout that seemed almost confited rather grilled. The blobs of mustard were the hot English stuff mixed with mayonnaise, which she didn’t enjoy, unfortunately. Still, it was a nice dish.
Dessert time! This pre-dessert first came:
Pretty, no? It was a baked vanilla custard with hazelnut praline and a nougatine soldier, such a cute play on the traditional boiled eggs and soldiers. I definitely could have put away a second or even a third at that point in the meal!
What finished me off was the Cornish cream tea pudding – a play on the usual scone, jam and clotted cream served with tea. For our dessert this was a scone, clotted cream, Earl Grey tea ice cream and raspberry foam. Again, my dessert was served in a stupid bowl; this is really turning into a pet peeve of mine. Mirna’s dessert, which was exactly the same as mine, was served on a glass plate (actually, a commemorative coronation plate!), which I would much have preferred.
In all, it was a great deal for £18 – I’ll definitely return when I need another treat (and when the set menu choices change!). Though not all the dishes were immense hits (either the dish itself or what the dish was plated on!), there is definitely promise there and I’d like to see what else they have to offer.
1a Launceston Place
London W8 5RL