After my last article, this might seem a little strange: Going for a traditional British Sunday roast. Steve P was in town and with a friend of his and lover of food, we went to this little restaurant in South Kensington. The chef ,Tristan Welsh, was formerly Marcus Wareing’s right hand man at Petrus and now presides over the kitchen at Launceston Place. He cooks relatively modern British food and is rather well seen by his colleagues and foodies (Jocelyn Herlan recommended him to me and a number of bloggers do find him very good). On Sundays he serves a rather classical roast beef along with all of the obligatory garnishes. This is certainly more classical than his usual food, but for us strangers (Steve and me), a traditional roast does sound quite tempting. The menu offers either the normal a la carte (42£ 3 courses) or the Sunday lunch (24.50£). During the week, they also offer an 18£ menu, which is terrific value.
After having chosen, we are presented with some acceptable parsnip crisps. Bread -sourdough and white- and butter are very good. One thing that a bread lover my me doesn’t enjoy is the minuscule portion of butter they put on the table.
The amuse was a cauliflower soup with some truffled cream. Very decent, tasty start, nicely presented. The cauliflower however, had this slightly penetrant aftertaste that many don’t like.
Deviled Brown Shrimp were a good starter. The shrimps being sliced and mixed with a very tasty cream and pieces of hard boiled egg. A classically British dish, served in an interesting combination with the shrimp. They came with some bread crisps and showed that this was a rather ambitious kitchen, that can deliver. The only thing that one might not like that much is the presentation itself. This is in general, the only thing I could criticise throughout the meal (and judging from photos on other reviews): The crockery and presentation have an odd touch, not that it looks bad in itself. It seems a bit strange from time to time, but that is a matter of personal taste. Very good.
The long awaited roast beef came with all the garnishes that make this a real feast: Horseradish cream, roast potatoes, parsnip puree, carrots, broccoli and some form of gougeres. The first thing one can say was that the gougeres were amazing. A crispy shell enclosed an airy, cheesy centre. The roast potatoes too, were as good as it gets. The broccoli and carrots were also on the same level, all in all very well-made garnishes. The beef was very good, if a little under-seasoned. In general, this was just what I hope to find in a restaurant serving British food: Local produce, well executed technique and a coherent plate of food. Excellent.
Steve and Hillary both went for cheese. The board was made up solely of British cheeses, which seemed to be of top quality.
A pre-dessert made out of a custard topped with some crumble was very good.
I went for a Spiced Pear, Chocolate. This was another case of questionable presentation. The bowl just looks so out of place in the modern decor of the restaurant. My Grandmother had that kind of stuff filled up with fruit in her kitchen. I mean it’s always nice to see chefs trying to use original methods of presentation, but they have to have some style. It might just be me though who doesn’t like this kind of crockery. The dessert was really good actually. Not too sweet, refreshing with the spicy roasted pear, some slightly crunchy chocolate flakes, a pear sorbet and a chocolate sauce. The classic poire belle Helene presented in this odd manner that Welsh seems to be so fond of. Very good.
This was a very pleasant lunch, good food, great people, this British ritual of the Roast Beef does seem like a nice idea to me. It remains to be seen how Welsh will develop his cooking as he definitely has potential and good ideas. The service, unfortunately, was not always on par with the cooking. It just didn’t seem to be as well polished or as welcoming as in other restaurants in the capital.