Launceston Place, Kensington: restaurant review
With a fancy makeover and a new head chef to boot, the cult classic, Michelin-baiting Launceston Place is once again on the up
What's the draw
Kensington restaurant Launceston Place has installed former Pierre Koffmann protégé Ben Murphy as its new head chef, and his menus are full of the kind of flair, creativity and off-the-wall flavour pairings that garnered him so much acclaim at The Woodford in E18.
What to drink
The focus here is firmly wine (exceptions like vinified French cider from winemaker Eric Bordelet very much prove the rule), and the list looks like it was a lot of fun to put together. In our tasting menu, highlights from the sommelier's pairings were a rich, full-bodied old-vine Aquifer Semillon from Swartland in South Africa, and a Moobuzz pinot noir from Monterey in California – as out-there as it sounds, with plenty of ripe red-fruit flavour and a decent hit of leathery funk.
What to eat
If you dined at The Woodford during Murphy's tenure, you'll know he's all about creative plates that make you think twice. His tasting menu included simple dishes like celeriac vélouté in an eggshell with 'soldiers', possibly influenced by the great Parisian restaurant L'Arpège, and two types of carrot, roasted and served with their tops next to a quenelle of yoghurt. But Murphy's not afraid to experiment, as the monkfish with confit onion and banana (yes, really) suggests, and the pleasing textural play of the presa Iberica – a vaunted cut of Iberian pork, with its cracking cooked separately and turned into a crumble that tops tender, gamey meat – a surefire winner in our book.
Three courses: £30; tasting menu: £75; wine from £8.50 by the glass. 1a Launceston Place, W8 5RL; launcestonplace-restaurant.co.uk