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The Landau

The Langham Hotel, Portland Place, London, England, W1B 1JA, United Kingdom

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Note that as of November 2010 Chris King is in charge of the kitchen, as part of the Roux family empire, so the notes below are of historical interest only. See the separate entry Roux at the Landau for the new incarnation. I rated this restaurant 13/20 previously.

The dining room at the Landau is large and has an attractive oval shape, with heavy use of wood panelling. Lighting is good and the room bright, with a high ceiling; chairs are comfortable. Andrew Turner is a chef with a track record of good London hotel openings, most recently at 1881 (The Bentley) and prior to that at Browns. Sadly he had a night off when I visited, and this may have contributed to a much less successful meal than I was expecting given his history and ability.

The menu is manageable in size and is “contemporary European”, with much use made of local produce, the main suppliers of which are credited on the menu. Starters were £10.50 to £17, main courses £19 to £28, mostly around £26. Vegetables are £4.50 extra per choice, desserts £8, cheese £10. There are also the “grazing menus” which are Andrew’s trademark, and we opted for the six course version at £60 (five courses are at £55). The wine list is extensive without being intimidating, covering a wide range of countries and including good New World growers such as Ridge. Mark-ups seemed to vary from reasonable (Mas de Daumas Gassac white at £55, about three times retail) to some that seemed over four times retail price.

Bread was home-made (white, brown, cereal and a rather doughy baguette that supposedly had garlic somewhere inside it, but not even the bloodhound sense of smell of my wife could detect it). The breads were pleasant (though not a patch on the fine home-made breads at 1881) at around 14/20. We began with a pleasant salad (“Isabelle”) of artichokes, garnished with quail eggs; this had fresh leaves with a well balanced, simple dressing (15/20). Next was a parfait of foie gras served with toasted brioche and a little salad; the parfait had smooth texture but was surprisingly lacking in foie gras taste (13/20).

The next dish was Cornish crab and avocado, with lemon myrtle and pickled apple puree. There were a number of issues with this dish. In the middle of the dish was a cheese wafer, presumably to support the puree, but the taste of the cheese was quite strong and did not sit well with the crab and avocado. Moreover I am unconvinced about whether the apple puree was a good foil to the rest of the dish (12/20). 

A sliver of wild sea bass was pan-fried for a little too long, resulting in an over-crisp skin and flesh that was a fraction dried out, though the confit tomatoes and smoked olive oil provided a nice Mediterranean feel to the dish (13/20). Chicken was label Anglaise but was also overcooked, resulting in quite dried out meat; the confit of leg was better and the jus was pleasant, but in this season I am surprised that button mushrooms were the best that could be found (13/20).

Finally Granny Smith apple was served as a sliver of apple and tiny cubes with a crisp butter biscuit and single drop of chocolate oil. This was decent though the chocolate oil barely registered; more of an issue is that the apple sorbet served with it was already mostly melted when it was served, a pretty basic error from whoever was on the pass in the kitchen.  Tea was very good, real tea in a teapot, though at £5.50 for tea and some pleasant chocolates I should hope so too.

Service was generally excellent, attentive and friendly. One minor slip was sloppy pouring of an alternate starter my wife had (a slightly watery pumpkin soup with quail egg and ceps) but otherwise the service was excellent. Overall this was a disappointing meal, with sloppy technique in multiple dishes and with at least one dish that seemed to me poorly conceived. Variation in standards when the chef has a night off are a problem in even established restaurants e.g. a meal I had at Pied a Terre in 2007 when Shane Osborn was absent was distinctly sub-par, but back to scratch on the next visit when he was there. The Landau is a fairly new restaurant where it is clear that the brigade lacked a supervisory hand tonight (the almost melted sorbet being allowed out of the kitchen was a schoolboy error). Given Andrew Turner’s proven ability I will at some point venture back, but will check carefully as to whether he is actually cooking when booking.

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  • Piet

    I don't know what the Landau was like in 2007 as I first starting eating here from 2009. I do think this deserves a re-visit on your part as it is now one of my favourite restaurants in London. I eat here often (because it is near to where we live), and think in the last year it has consistently improved. Service is excellent (some of the staff truly stand out, others are a bit mechanical but doing their best), the room is gorgeous, and they have an excellently priced lunch and pre-theatre menu (21.50 for 2, or 29 for 3 courses). Highly recommended.

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