When Ben Murphy first moved into Launceston Place, he made a splash with some pretty out-there ideas - emojis on the menus, chips arriving in miniature shopping trolleys, and some wild flavour combinations too. The restaurant certainly made a name for itself, but the top quality cooking was perhaps slightly lost in the feeling that it was trying a little too hard.
Launceston Place still has a formal vibe - you can expect your pristine white tablecloth to be carefully crumbed after each course, and the white/grey colour scheme feels a little staid and starchy. That said, there’s still a sense of fun, not least in the menu where you block out choices on a draughts board.
The menu is less adventurous too, but that’s no bad thing; now the gimmicks are gone, Murphy’s brilliant cooking is shining through. A pigeon starter arrives with a killer combination of burnt orange puree, foie gras and a majestic, glossy pigeon jus; each element is perfectly executed, a smart riff on a classic. The same is true of a neat tartlet of mushroom, egg yolk and Parmesan, humbly transformed into something great with a hit of yeast powder. There are other little treats here and there - a sublime little beef tartare taco with caviar, a cigar of smoked haddock mousse, and a palate-cleansing watermelon soup.
The desserts were equally accomplished, with first prize going to a magnificent white chocolate lemon, which revealed a tangy yuzu mousse within. Wine service, meanwhile, is first rate - the wine list at Launceston Place is a hefty tome, but sommelier Marcello Neri perfectly matched our wines through the night. Murphy has made no secret of his desire to change things up at Launceston Place once again - we're all in favour of this grown-up reinvention.