Alyn Williams at The Westbury

Dining with the Husband, Michelin Star Restaurant, One Michelin Star

This was quite a spontaneous lunch, we had a G&T experience arranged in The Westbury’s Polo bar but we thought whilst were at The Westbury hotel we may as well take the opportunity to eat at their Michelin star restaurant Alyn Williams at The Westbury.

We had been privileged enough to actually meet Executive Chef Alyn Willams and have him cook for us at an exclusive event called Dinner in the sky, I have previously written about this in my diary. I was excited to try his food with my feet firmly on the dining room floor without the wind battling my hair.

The restaurant was beautiful. Very elegant and classic, it reminded me very much of Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester. Next to our table there was a private dining area, either side of the entrance doors were temperature controlled cabinets displaying wines. I found this a really attractive feature, what a great way to show the wines they have to offer.

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As we knew we’d be drinking gin and tonics after lunch we asked if it was possible to share a wine pairing with our tasting menu. Although we felt a little embarrassed with our request it was not a problem. I had even substituted some of the dishes with the vegetation menu and the wine was still paired accordingly, what excellent service.

Shortly after we were seated we were presented little cheese profiteroles, Gougères. These are one of my favourites, so addictive, they definitely do the trick of leaving your mouth wanting more.

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First course was langoustine which was absolutely delicious, the langoustine was so succulent and the flavours worked so well. I sometimes find lemongrass a little over powering but these flavours were perfectly balanced. Gorgeous dish. I really liked the presentation too.

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Langoustine/lemongrass/chilli/coconut/cucumber

Next course was mackerel. This is a food I don’t think I could ever learn to love. So I substituted for the gnocchi from the vegetation tasting menu. Gnocchi is not something I’ve ordered before, I have made it at home but it was nothing like this. It was awesome, Alyn’s not mine. So crispy and fluffy, my four year old son would have adored these! Now I know what to aim for if I attempt to make gnocchi again.

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Gnocchi/heritage carrots/wild herbs/walnuts

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Mackerel/miso glaze/beach vegetables/truffle

Next course was Foie gras semi fredo. A signature dish. Semi fredo is Italian for half frozen and is typically a dessert. I was surprised by the temperature but as soon as it started to melt in my mouth I completely understood why it was half frozen. Foie gras has a creamy texture, so to add the melting element was very clever. This dish was also served with a really sweet dessert style wine which was unanticipated but made sense and really did compliment the dish.

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Foie gras semi fredo/sand carrot/liquorice

I diverted onto the veggie menu for the next course. I had dined in the sky with Chef Alyn Williams a few weeks prior and had a dish that I thought read quite similar so didn’t want to eat the same dish again. It was actually nothing like I ate before. I was still happy with my choice though. Its great that you can pick and choose from the different menus, another sign of great service.

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Belota Iberica/pickled damsons/parsley mousse/cob nuts

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Jerusalem artichoke royale/kohl rabi/orange/parmesan/truffle.

My husband’s plate of food was very pretty and colourful and not actually how I imagined. My dish was a fluffy, foamy custard and covered in grated truffle. It was lovely and light and the orange was very refreshing.

Ready for the mains, my husband went for the lamb and I went for the beef. Hubby’s lamb was incredible, well the tiny nibble I actually got to try! He devoured it!

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Welsh lamb/herb crust/onion/kale

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Ruby Red Devon beef sirloin/braised cheek/turnip/croutons

My beef was also served with a side of mashed potato. Absolute perfection! The braised cheek was beautiful and I loved the croutons. This was a flawless course and the reason we avoid cooking beef and lamb at home as we can never do it justice. This is the standard of food you expect to receive when dining in Michelin star restaurants and that’s exactly why I have a tendency to choose Michelin star restaurants over restaurants without, guaranteed quality.

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Aerated white chocolate/candied fennel/lime

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Berries/cheesecake/granola

Desserts were really lovely. Very simple but they were fresh and light and were a great finish to a wonderful tasting menu.

We declined coffees but were presented petit fours in a little cardboard box, which we enjoyed the next day when I discovered them in my handbag. Don’t you just love it when that happens! 😉

This is a beautiful restaurant and service is fantastic.

We went through to the hotels Polo Bar. We sat up at the bar and worked our way through the entire Tanqueray No Ten Botanical Brew Experience menu. (Six varieties) The bar tender was great. He talked us through the exciting range of infusions and pairings, as he mixed them. We felt very comfortable in his company and were sharing lots of laughs. I must admit I was quite drunk after five glasses of wine and three Gin and tonics. We finished our drinks thanked the bartender for his hospitality and then we stumbled into a taxi.

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Blurry pictures taken at the Polo Bar on Husbands phone, I think the blur is due to him being drunk hehe!

Alyn Williams - The Westbury Hotel Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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The Hand & Flowers, LUSH!

Dining with the Husband, Michelin Star Restaurant, Two Michelin Star

I recently came here for a Saturday lunch, the table had been booked nine months in advance.

Our booking had coincided with head chef Tom Kerridge’s new TV show Tom Kerridge’s Best Ever Dishes on BBC2. I imagine you have to wait a lot longer than nine months now to get a table on a Saturday.

My husband checked their website out of curiosity whilst the programme was on air and it had crashed.

I’m a huge fan of Tom Kerridge and I had the pleasure of meeting him last October at a cooking the books event at Sonny’s Kitchen. He cooked a three course lunch inspired by recipes from his first book, Proper Pub Food.

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Meeting Mr Kerridge at Sonny’s Kitchen event November 2013

I was very excited, unfortunately I had to drive as getting there by train would have taken forever, the positive of this was that I got to experience the best Virgin mojito ever!!!!

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Me

The booking was for 12:45 due to an incident on the M25 I left far earlier than I needed and we arrived very early, but luckily managed to bag a parking spot. We sat in the bar and had an aperitif and some bar snacks.

I had a cheeky kent sparkling rose, and hubby had a pint of Hand & Flowers Ale. We ordered bar snacks of spicy nuts and pork puffs. I remember hubby making these pork puffs from the first cookery book, I definitely prefer the professional version. 😉

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Hand & Flowers Ale

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Balfour Brut Rose, Kent

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Bar snacks

As we took our last sip we were offered our table. We were shown to a cosy corner and we were very pleased with our designated table. It was nice to be able to sit next to each other in an informal dining room. The atmosphere was buzzing. Everyone here had been waiting as long as us for their golden ticket to dine in this two Michelin star pub.

My husband continued to drink pints throughout the meal, as I was driving I opted for water and a virgin mojito. The mocktail was was proper lush, I can only imagine what the real cocktails would have tasted like.

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White Bait & Bread

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Best Virgin Mojito EVER

We were given bread and white bait as we waited for our starters. My husband had planned his meal well in advance, I wanted to chose on the day and see what I fancied. My attitude to dining out has changed lately, rather than eat what I like and be safe I have started to order what I normally wouldn’t have. So I ordered lovage soup with smoked eel.

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Lovage Soup with Bramley Apple, Smoked Eel, and Ham and Cheese Tortellini

Hubby ordered crispy pig face.

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Crispy Pig’s Head with Spiced Date Puree, Apple, Blackberry and Pancetta

When the starters arrived I definitely had food envy. Mine was delicious, especially the tortellini hidden at the bottom, but hubby’s dish was something else. It was just perfect. I’m salivating just remembering the taste.

Next main course. Hubby ordered the duck, I ordered the grouse, I chose this as I’d only ever had this once before so wanted to try it again. The plates arrived and the portions were huge! I had ordered a side of chips too. I’m so used to eating smaller portions on tasting menus I didn’t realise how large the main course would be. I did have slight food envy again hubby’s research had definitely paid off.

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Yorkshire Grouse with Black Pudding Purée, Morello Cherry Ketchup, Frosted Almond and Game Pie

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Slow Cooked Duck Breast with Savoy cabbage, Duck Fat Chips and Gravy

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Mains & Sides

The chips were a-maze-ing, the pie was really delicious perfect puffed pastry top and lovey rich filling. There were two pieces of grouse but I was really struggling to finish so passed one over to my hubby.

The food so far had been incredible and now looking back I appreciate it even more. Living in kent I have eaten in little country pubs before but this was a class above any pub I’d ever been to before. Well two Michelin stars above to be precise. Although I was absolutely stuffed I always manage to have room for dessert. Sometimes Michelin star desserts are a bit disappointing but The hand and flowers’ desserts fulfilled and exceeded expectations. The dessert menu was very hard to choose from so we actually chose three. I couldn’t resist the soufflé, well it was the Parma violet ice cream that swung it actually. Hubby chose the chocolate malt cake, this came with a potent shot of reduced ale, and in addition to those, a malt gateau. All three desserts were as luscious as each other. I’d of loved to have worked my way through the entire menu. Trying three out of the seven wasn’t bad going.

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Blueberry Soufflé with Parma Violet Ice Cream and Lemon Verbena Syrup

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Sweet Malt Gateau with Malted Milk Ice Cream, Yeast Tuile and Crème Fraîche

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Hand & Flowers Chocolate and Ale Cake with Salted Caramel and Muscovado Ice Cream

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Table full of desserts

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The service here is great, very attentive, my water was constantly topped up and even though you are allocated a two hour sitting it does not feel at all rushed, it’s incredible how quickly the tables are turned and new guests are sat, such precision. Although it has been said that formal fine dining is dying out I have to admit I do prefer formal. I loved the hand and flowers and would definitely return as the food was outstanding but I prefer the traditional white table clothes and grand chandeliers and my chair being pulled out for me. BUT I have recently eaten in my local pub and now comparing the two it seems crazy to pay similar prices and receive such average food, now I can definitely see Tom Kerridge’s vision, it is not meant to be ‘fine dining’ this is just perfect proper pub grub!

(Now this isn’t something I usually take pictures of but I was really impressed with the flower arrangement on the toilet and the Hand & Flowers branded soap)

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Reminiscence – The Fat Duck July 2011

Dining with the Husband, Michelin Star Restaurant, Three Michelin Star

I visited this mind blowing restaurant in July 2011. My husband and I had only just started getting into food and dining in Michelin star restaurants. The main reason being that we now had a child so drinking, dancing and grabbing a donna kebab on the way home in the early hours was not something we could partake in anymore. Not a bad alternative I know!

My husband’s new year resolution/challenge for 2011 was to dine in at least one Michelin starred restaurant a month for a whole year. I believe this was our first three Michelin star experience.  (We’ve since visited all the three Michelin star restaurants in the UK).  During our year of Michelin starred dining we would more often go for the set lunch menus, looking back this does not really do the restaurants justice as you just can’t compare a set lunch to an a la carte or tasting menu. The Fat Duck was a real extravagance for us. I think this has still been the most expensive lunch we’ve had but it was worth every penny.

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The Fat Duck July 2011

The exterior of the building is very quaint and the interior was just as charming. It was a real contrast to the contemporary dishes we were served. I absolutely adored this experience, I loved the theatrics and felt so excited the whole journey. Literally every table were taking pictures of their plates, something I’ve not encountered since. I did get over excited during some courses and only remembered to take a picture once I’d tucked in. I didn’t remember to take a pic of the Nitro poached aperitifs or the hot/iced tea either. But it’s up there in my memory bank and I will cherish this adventure forever. If you have not been to the Fat Duck, you must!!!

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Beetroot meringue

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Red cabbage gazpacho pommery grain mustard ice cream

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Jelly of quail, crayfish cream chicken liver parfait, oak moss and truffle toast

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Snail porridge iberico ham, shaved fennel

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Roast foie gras barberry, braised jinni and crab biscuit

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Mock turtle soup

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The actual sound of the sea

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Sound of the sea

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Salmon poached in a liquorice gel artichokes, vanilla mayonnaise and golden trout roe

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Lamb with cucumber onion and fill fluid gel

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Macerated strawberries olive oil biscuit, chamomile and coriander jelly and ice cream cornet

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The BFG Black forest gateau

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Whisk(e)y wine gums

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Aerated chocolate mandarin jelly

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Apple pie caramel with an edible wrapper

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Coconut baccy coconut infused with an aroma of black cavendish tobacco

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The queen of hearts

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As you can see the food was amazing, it tasted as good as it looked. There were so many highlights. The Fat Duck is soon moving to Melbourne, Australia for 6 months in 2015, I’m excited to see what they make of it.

Purnell’s Outlaw Kitchen Takeover

Dining with the Husband, Michelin Star Restaurant, One Michelin Star, Pop Up Experience

Nathan Outlaw and Glynn Purnell were the hosts at this unique kitchen takeover at Outlaw’s at The Capital. The evening was held to celebrate the successful book launch of Glynn’s debut ‘Cracking Yolks & Pig Tales’. It was the perfect opportunity to try out Glynn’s cuisine in London as his Michelin star restaurant, Purnells, is located in Birmingham.

We arrived to a very busy bar, this night had been a sell out so we just loitered in the Lobby. The front of house caught my attention checked us in then showed us to our table, we were given a table right next to the ‘thrones’ where the chefs would be appearing.

The room filled up and the excitement grew. We were given champagne and canapés of smoked fish cakes, crab & cheddar tarts, and Duck ham & fig chutney.

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Canapés of smoked fish cakes, crab & cheddar tarts, and Duck ham & fig chutney

Whilst everyone was tucking in the chefs could be seen through the window to the kitchen, it was very exciting waiting for them to make their grand entrance. When Glynn and Nathan walked into the dining room all the diners applauded, they welcomed their guests, before hosting a Q&A session together.

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We see you! Nathan Outlaw & Glynn Purnell

Only a few questions were asked, one about if media had played a big part in their success, another asked for advice for aspiring young chefs and I plucked up the courage to ask simply what were their favourite restaurants. They were very comical, especially Glynn, he is exactly how he appears on Saturday kitchen and had the whole room laughing. It was like watching celebrities, and to me chefs are celebrities. I’m a foodie and these chefs are my idols, they’re very talented and I appreciate their art.

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They headed back to the kitchen to prepare nights dinner.

First course Beetroot mousse, horseradish crumble & Salted beetroot.  Such a pretty plate, gorgeous colours and loved the textures.

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Beetroot mousse, horseradish crumble & Salted beetroot

Second course Curry cured salmon, spiced mango, cauliflower, coriander. Salmon isn’t one of my favourites but the flavours in this dish were amazing! Surprisingly delicious.

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Curry cured salmon, spiced mango, cauliflower, coriander

Third course Slow cooked neck if lamb, scorched leeks & lettuce, pickled cucumber & tomato.  Wow, the meat was so tender and soft and melt in the mouth perfection.

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Slow cooked neck if lamb, scorched leeks & lettuce, pickled cucumber & tomato

Dessert Lemon meringue pie.  Beautiful blow torched meringue and a gorgeous ice cream accompaniment.

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Lemon meringue pie

Whilst enjoying the coffee and petit fours the two chefs worked the room. They made an effort to go to each and every table and thank their guests. I had my menu signed and hubby had a photo with Glynn.

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A very proud Hubby and Yummy Brummie

As expected the food was amazing, my highlights were the beetroot with horseradish and the lamb neck. It was such a pleasure and privilege to meet both chefs. Since this event last week Nathan was the winner of the AA Chefs’ Chef of the Year Award 2014-2015 and Outlaws Fish Kitchen in Cornwall was awarded a Michelin star, not a bad week for Nathan and his team! What an achievement and very well deserved too.

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Delicious breads

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Happy customer

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Sommelier in front of the ‘thrones’

The restaurant is located a stones throw from Harrods.  While we were sat I spotted a Swarovski crystal covered Mercedes, which later appeared in the news, only in Knightsbridge hey!

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The infamous Swarovski crystal covered Mercedes

Luxury lunch at Launceston Place

Dining with the Husband, Michelin Star Restaurant, One Michelin Star

My husband thought we deserved a treat, we’re hard working parents and we don’t get much ‘us’ time. So we pushed the boat out and went for lunch at Launceston Place. After a warm welcome we were given our choice of table, my husband is very particular about where he sits, coincidently we were sat opposite a very inviting cheese trolley. The restaurant is very intimate but the spacing between tables is not intrusive. The decor is modern and homely. It was a sunny day so the light poured in through the front windows, these windows are great for people watching, passers by check out the menu and peer in to see what’s on your plates.

We started with a glass of rose champagne, it’s rude not to! We didn’t bother to look at the menus as we had already decided to do the tasting menu, with paired wines.

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Bubbles

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A very happy girl

First of the Amuse bouche were cheese biscuits and they were incredible, my mouth was definitely amused and ready for more.

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Cheesy nibbles

Next a variety of tomatoes which followed the cheese perfectly.

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Tomato Amuse Bouche

Now I was set for the main event. Quail was the first course. It arrived in two parts, the legs were served on smoked hay, a small glass cloche was removed to reveal a puff of smoke. The remainder of the quail was served separately accompanied by a deep fried egg wrapped in potato spaghetti, the dish as a whole was gorgeous, and also my favourite.

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QuailQuail, new corn, verjus truffle and legs smoked in hay

Second course was pork jowl. I really actually enjoy eating pigs faces, it’s incredible how tender the meat is. The cracking balanced on top of the pork was absolutely perfect! I found the apricot a little tart, but it definitely cut through the flavours. Another stunning dish.

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Pork Jowl, apricot, red chicory and Scottish girolles

Third course wild salmon, as I’m not a fish fan my husband always tells me to substitute the dish but I always decline as I want to experience the full tasting menu as the chef created it. I enjoyed the dish especially the crayfish element. The tomatoes were beautiful too, they were like tiny tin tomatoes, and I love tin tomatoes.

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Wild Salmon, English crayfish, seashore herbs and vine tomatoes

Fourth course Grouse. This was my first time eating grouse, it certainly will not be my last. I will be sure to look out for it. The taste was very similar to pheasant, a very delicate flavour. I enjoyed every element to this dish, the foie gras cannelloni, the figs, the elderberries. What a great build up of courses to this fantastic finale.

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Allenheads Grouse, sourdough puree, foie gras cannelloni, Provence figs, sprouts and preserved elderberries

The grouse shooting season had not long started before our visit so we were fortunate for it to appear on our tasting menu. We were actually the first dinners to sample the tasting menu of the autumn which came into affect that day. So after every course the staff were keen for our feedback.

Next we surrendered to the cheese trolley. Not that we really had much room but it seemed like a wasted opportunity if we didn’t partake in some cheese. I really enjoy listening to all the descriptions of the cheeses. It’s amazing how much the staff have to memorise. I opted for some British hard cheeses and Stilton.

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Cheese trolley

Dessert time. First of the desserts was lemon cream, lemon curd ice cream and granite. The description sums it up. I could have easily eaten another of these, or two, or three. It was absolutely delicious, lovely and light, refreshing and it left my mouth feeling very satisfied.

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Lemon cream, lemon curd ice cream and granite

Next of the desserts, Raspberry Delice. I adore the combination of raspberry and white chocolate. This was another delicious light satisfying dessert, I would have liked a more generous portion of chocolate aero but that’s because it tasted so good and I’m a bit of a chocoholic hehe!

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Raspberry Delice, white chocolate aero and caramelised white chocolate

We had the paired wines with our tasting menu. The sommelier was fascinating and very passionate about the wines. I am getting more knowledgeable about wines but I still don’t know where to start when handed a wine list. I enjoy sampling the sommeliers choices and listening to the explanations, I feel it adds to the whole dining experience.

We ordered coffee, we always order coffee to receive the petit fours, then we sit back and savour the moment.

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The service at Launceston Place is fantastic, the food is incredible. The staff were very coy when asked about possibly receiving a second Michelin star. Personally after comparing this to the other two star restaurants I have eaten at this year I can see very little difference and I think they thoroughly deserve a second star and hope they achieve it. Good luck Launceston Place!
Launceston Place Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato