At Launceston Place, head chef Tim Allen has created a showstopping menu with its roots in classic dishes. Amanda Afiya reports
As culinary pedigrees go, Tim Allen's has got to be up there with the best. The head chef of Launceston Place, one of D&D London's flagship restaurants, has worked with some of the country's finest homegrown chefs including Simon Gueller, John Burton Race, Daniel Clifford and Martin Burge.
Despite his culinary lineage, Yorkshire-born Allen, who assumed his first head chef's position at the Kensington restaurant in February of last year, admits that he found the role daunting at first, but says having the opportunity to run his own kitchen while also being given the reins to the business is equally exciting.
"I think it's a huge positive to be running the business as well as the kitchen," says, Allen, adding that he finds that his overarching role ensures that he respects and appreciates all aspects of the restaurant.
"I've got the backing of a large company and great buying power, but at the same time the food product and what I do here on a day-to-day basis is very much my own."
Although Allen, who was awarded a Michelin star within eight months of arriving at the property, won't be drawn on whether his aspirations are to match the accolades of his multi-Michelin-starred mentors Clifford and Burge, dining at the 60-seat Launceston Place soon puts paid to any doubts that he has anything else planned.
Take the Rhug Estate organic chicken, served with truffle mash, charred broccoli, St George mushrooms and roasted chicken jus. Allen removes all the meat from the carcass, then poaches and roasts the breast. The thighs are marinated and confited, while a farce is made from the rest of the chicken. He then uses the farce and the confited chicken to make a layered pie wrapped in puff pastry. The bones and the trimmings, of course, go into the sauce.
Meanwhile, other dishes such as Cornish mackerel, cold smoked and grilled, hot smoked rillette, variations of cucumber, borage flowers and iced horseradish, and native lobster, tail cooked in brown butter, wonton of the claw, charred alliums, sorrel and its own bisque, illustrate his love of demonstrating techinique at every turn. Allen hopes that dishes such as these are "tasty and enjoyable and with a hint of sophistication".
Desserts, which are equally stunning, include white chocolate mousse, poached Wye Valley rhubarb, pistachio, gariguette strawberries, orange ice-cream and star anise meringues; and baked English custard scented with vanilla, pineapple roasted in Pedro Ximenez, and pineapple ice-cream.
Launceston Place offers a wide range of menus to suit all pockets. A set-lunch menu, available from Tuesday to Saturday, is just £25 for three courses, while Sunday lunch is £29.50, also for three courses. A market menu (£48 for three courses) and a tasting menu (£65 for six courses) are available at every service apart from Sunday lunch.
Allen is pleased to be supported by an excellent team both front and back of house. Together with his sous chef Aidan Mc Gee, Allen leads a brigade of 12 chefs, while an efficient yet friendly front of house is run by Italian restaurant manager Matteo Inzaina and Spanish head sommelier Agustin Trapero.
1a Launceston Place
London W8 5RL
020 7937 6912www.launcestonplace-restaurant.co.uk
A taste of Launceston Place
Six courses £65,
£123 with wine pairing
Warm cauliflower mousse, curried lentils purée
Spring vegetable salad, truffle cream cheese, pickled carrots, salt baked vegetables, grain mustard and honey
Cornish mackerel cold smoked and grilled, hot smoked rillette, variations of cucumber, borage flowers and iced horseradish
Iberico pork glazed pork belly, Heritage tomatoes, broad beans, "Pa amb tomaquet" and dried fig reduction
A light lemon cream confit lemon and lemon granita
Pure pistachio soufflé chocolate ganache and chocolate sorbet