Its been a while since we ate at Launceston Place. Chef Tristan Welch was in residence at the time. I never met him but he came across as a really nice guy on the few TV appearance's that I saw him in . He was hotly tipped for Michelin stardom but that elusive gong was not to arrive.
Move forward a handful of years and lo and behold Launceston Place have finally gained the star that they so much desired. It has arrived in very quick fashion too, especially given Michelin's pedestrian history. Tim Allen perhaps was destined for stardom having worked for arguably one of the toughest chefs in the business John Burton Race. Then a seven year stint at Whatley Manor with highly respected two Michelin starred Martin Burge has not gone unnoticed too. Still he has only been here since February and to earn a star in that period of time is remarkable indeed.
The restaurant is an unusual shape and seats around sixty. There is a private dining room in the basement. The best seats are by the large window at the front of the restaurant.
There were three menus to choose from on our weekend lunch visit, a tasting menu, carte, and set lunch.
A few dishes cross over from the carte on to the set making it far from the poor cousin. All of them read very well with lots of temptation in each. In the end we chose the set menu as we found all of the dishes interesting but it was about half the price of the carte.
A couple of amuse bouche arrived at the table. The moreish cheese filled choux pastry gougeres were much relished. The extremely tasty cauliflower foam sitting on a bed of curried lentils is worthy of developing as a course on its own it was that enjoyable.
Bread was decent and I suspect freshly baked on the premises. I slightly preferred the white to the brown. I am not keen on whipped butter though, much preferring the rich density of the original
My first course read very well. Slow cooked Duck egg, sauteed girolles, pata negra lardo, pea veloute.
I initially found the sight of the under cooked egg white off putting, however I put that to the back of my mind because the smell was amazing and it ate very well indeed. Every component of the dish worked in tandem resulting in a very nice plate of food indeed.
My wife's starter looked the business. Hot home smoked Mackerel with salt water prawns, piquillo pepper and lemon confit.
There was a delay in the main courses. our server apologised for the wait as the chef was not happy with my fish and had decided to cook another. We felt like Great British Menu judges instead of normal punters, still I like that honesty coming from a craftsman.
The Roasted Hake was indeed worth the wait. It was accompanied with salt cod bon bon, celeriac puree, charred baby gem, capers and brown butter chicken jus, a veritable mouthful in both senses.
A hunky bit of fish perfectly cooked. Moist and flaky big on flavour with enough textural teasing on the plate to hold the interest. Again another bit of good cooking.
I also liked the sound of my wife's dish Roasted pigeon with glazed bacon. No small portions here proper plates of food and this was a man sized portion as well.
Totally delicious, tender and gamy, savoury with good depth of flavour on the salty sweet bacon which did not overwhelm the pigeon but complimented it. Loved the garlic mash, confit shallot and the sherry vinegar caramel.
Desserts did not disappoint. My wife's choice first. English custard tart, caramelised apples, sultana puree and yogurt ice cream.
An ideal combination, fruity, rich, warm, cold, texture and visually exciting, a winner.
Last but not least my dessert was a Baked vanilla yogurt, poached English plums and orange ice cream.
So layers of flavour. Delicious sweet slightly tart orange ice cream, diced plums and orange slices. buried in the base of baked yogurt were more plums. Excellent.
Now then, its fair to say that given Tim Allen's pedigree I had high expectations of this meal and thankfully we were not disappointed. All of the dishes displayed a high level of technical skill and were packed full of flavour. Portions are generous and each dish held the interest until the very end. I also feel the need to add that the value for quality is amazing. Its hard to comprehend that what is on display is from a set menu of three courses for only £23.
We both relished the thought of trying more of Tim's food and we look forward to a speedy return.
1 launceston place