So many reviews of Launceston Place ask the same question. Why does it not have a Michelin Star?. It is a mystery, as Launceston Place has it all. An attractive location, first rate service and some rather impressive cooking.
This was our second visit, the first time was 2 years ago when we indulged in the tasting menu. This time we were determined to stick to the set lunch.
I could not help but compare the set lunch here with last months set lunch at the Michelin starred William Drabble. At William Drabble’s I felt that the set lunch had been well under par (inferior cooking and ingredients). It did nothing to showcase that restaurant. In stark contrast Launceston Place pulled out all the stops. Providing lots of extras – the home made crisps to start, a small loaf of bread with pickled herring, a lemon posset pre dessert and little lemon sponges at the end of the meal. The only negative here was that it was hard not to make a mess when eating the bread.
Then there was the meal itself. We started with a vibrant green watercress soup with smoked eel and poached quail eggs and a warm heirloom tomato salad with home made ewes curd. However it was the main courses that stood out. I had the Mackerel which was quite lovely, both in respect of presentation and taste. My companion had the duck, which he enjoyed so much more than the duck dish he had at Heston Blumentals Dinner earlier this year. To go with these dishes we had a side order of Jersey Royal New Potatoes, they were smothered in butter, perfectly cooked with that wonderful earthy taste that epitomises Jersey Royals – just fabulous.
For dessert we both had the Treacle Tart with creme fraiche ice cream, very nice – especially when accompanied by a generous glass of PX. We were so pre occupied talking with the Sommelier about the history and variety of PX sherries that we forgot to photograph the tart, which was quite pretty before we demolished it.
Marks out of 10
UPDATE: April 2012 – There is now a new head chef at Launceston Place – see Press Release
UPDATE : September 2012, Lauceston Place has finally been awarded a Michelin Star.
UPDATE: October 2016, Lauceston Place no longer has a Michelin Star.
I had a lovely lunch at Seven Park Place by William Drabble in the rather quirky St James Club and Hotel, but that was mainly down to the company and the fact that I ordered À la carte rather than going for the Set lunch menu.
We were a fairly large group and ordered a mixture of À la carte dishes and Set Menu dishes. À la carte dishes are usually larger portions and perhaps more extravagant, but in a Michelin star restaurant you still expect the set menu to be of a pretty high standard as well. I tried some of my companions dishes and it did seem like the set menu ones had come from a different kitchen.
From the À la carte menu I had the delicious Poached lobster tail with English asparagus, pea shoots and truffle dressing for starters, that dish was definitely up to scratch. I followed this with a tasty pigeon dish. This was in stark contrast to the mousse of foie gras and wild mushrooms starter from the set menu that I tasted which was pretty bland and the pork belly that was a bit too fatty and insipid in both taste and color, with tiny slithers of crackling. My companions were not blown away by the other dishes they had either.
The desserts were pretty ordinary all round, although the home made chocolates presented at the end of the meal and the boxes of marshmallows were a nice touch.
There were also several issues with the service. The staff were very nice, but one of our groups main course did not arrive with the rest of the tables so he had to wait a while for it. We were also seated in a booth like area that made it impossible for the staff to serve the people in the back three seats, so plates and cutlery had to be passed around the table. I have never been in a restaurant of this calibre where the waiter has to ask a customer to use his napkin so he can pass him a hot plate! There was also a couple of minor mix ups with the wine too.
On a completely different subject, there was a piece of art on display, which was most definitely a talking point for all the wrong reasons. It seemed to us to be in rather bad taste. Quite offensive actually, take a close look at the picture of the statue above and you will see what I mean.
So if I was looking for a word to sum up the experience I would have to say “Flawed”.
Marks out of 10
Food (two sets of markings for the food as the menus were so different)
5.6 (À la carte)
4.4 (Set Menu)
Trinity – A first time vist to this Clapham Restaurant, its has been on the wish list for a while.
NEW SOUTH WALES – AUSTRALIA
Rick Stein at Bannisters – Our Australian correspondent visited Ricks restaurant in Cornwall a couple of years ago so should be in a good position to see how the Australian outpost compares. Apparently it’s a tad warmer there than Padstow.