Editor's note: In July 2015 it was announced that chef Tim Allen would leave Launceston Place in Septemner 2015. The new executive chef as of March 2016 is Raphael Francois, previously executive chef at Helene Darroze at the Connaught.
The dining room here has an unusually relaxed and peaceful feel, partly due to the low noise levels due to the carpet and absence of music. Being spread out into several little rooms, the 50-seat dining area feels quite cosy, despite its rather gloomy black wallpaper.
This meal began with some nibbles, a caraway biscuit with beetroot, and a very enjoyable Parmesan biscuit (15/20). Bread is now prepared in the kitchen, and had good texture (15/20). I really enjoyed a further amuse-bouche of warm cauliflower mousse with curried lentils, which had just the right level of spice to lift the earthy flavours of the main components, the lentils very tender (easily 16/20).
Leveret (young hare) came with lightly pickled cabbage, caramelised bacon and baked potato cream. At the table a little 100% cocoa powder was dusted over the plate. The hare had excellent flavour, the cabbage nicely balanced the richness of the hare, and the potato cream and bacon were comforting (16/20).
Cornish mackerel came both grilled and as cold smoked and tartare, served with gooseberries, charred cucumber and iced grain mustard. The mackerel tasted very fresh, was accurately cooked, and the iced grain mustard worked nicely with the oily fish (15/20).
Iberico pork was served as both loin and belly, with black pudding, Braeburn apples and English brassicas. The pork had deep flavour, the crackling was good, and the apples cut through the richness of the dish well (16/20).
Widgeon (a type of duck, also spelt wigeon) came on the bone, alongside a pastille of widgeon leg, celeriac baked in aromatic orange salt, red pear and caramelised red chicory. This was another good dish, the duck cooked rare, the minced widgeon leg in the pastry nicely seasoned, the celeriac providing an earthy contras and the pear bringing useful acidity (16/20).
Cheese and lemon curd ice cream, yoghurt and granite was a refreshing pre-dessert (15/20). Caramel chocolate sphere came with Williams pear and caramelised walnuts. This was an attractively presented dish, the chocolate rich and enjoyable, nicely balanced by the pear, the walnuts providing some texture (16/20). I slightly preferred this to home-made puff pastry layered with cinnamon cassonade, spheres of caramelised Cox apple and frozen calvados apple. I enjoyed the apple, which was caramelised to just the right degree, but although I admire the effort in making the puff pastry, it did not have the airy lightness of the very best puff pastry, as can be found for example at Michel Guerard’s restaurant in Bordeaux, or indeed more locally at Hedone.
Coffee (£4.50) was Musetti, and was very pleasant, served with petit fours. Service was excellent, friendly and engaging. The bill at lunch came to £70 a head with just water to drink. This was another enjoyable meal at Launceston Place, which combines an appealing menu, relaxed setting and skilful cooking.