My career as a restaurant reviewer, enjoyable but shortlived, was ultimately doomed – because I cannot take some foodery or restaurantery seriously. For years we have had chefs running amok over our television screens, writing books, appearing on Chef ‘reality’ programmes – in the case of Gordon Ramsay, demonstrating his appreciation for the English language by swearing in a curiously ineffective manner…. BUT… it is time for Chef to get back into the kitchen below stairs, cook and keep quiet. A quick walk along the King’s Road last night revealed a remarkable lack of diners and swathes of empty tables – save for cheaper establishments serving good food at sane prices and no Maitre D’ or Chefs de Rang polishing the bloody glasses in a supercilious (possibly) manner.
I happened to be on Gumtree tonight researching restaurant activity for an article looking at the other side of life in the restaurant world – the world of staff, the low pay, the jobs available and the possible effect ‘Le Credit-crunch’ (as some of the more expensive restaurants in London would, inevitably, call it)…. was having on the restaurant trade. This advert and accompanying picture caught my eye… for a ‘destination restaurant’… whatever that is…. Launceston Place.
I quote the advert in full… “We are currently recruiting for an enthusiastic and talented bartender at Launceston Place, in the heart of Kensington. Our restaurant has undergone a sophisticated and contemporary refurbishment and has re-opened as an intimate and refined destination restaurant, managed by the best in the industry. Launceston Place’s cuisine is truly unique and is created by Head Chef Tristan Welch, formerly from 2 Michelin star restaurant Petrus. Our innovative and delicious menu features classic dishes infused with unique modern techniques, showcasing flambé at the table, smoking dishes, a fine cheese trolley and speciality chocolate trolley. Michelin service is presented with elegance and finesse, and we focus on tailoring our service to each table.”
(a) How can something be ‘truly’ unique? It is either unique or it is not. (b) I am not entirely sure I want food infused with ‘unique modern techniques’… whatever they are…(c) I don’t know if Launceston Place has 2 Michelin stars and I can’t be bothered to find out – but…. they get the subtle plug because Cook had two at Petrus. (d) I quite enjoyed it, at old style Italian restaurants in the days of red table cloths and Chianti bottles in wicker baskets, when a waiter with an implausibly sized pepper grinder would cremate a bit of meat in front of me by setting fire to it in a copper pan – flambe is not what I want in a restaurant. Christ… I can do that at home when I return pissed after a night out if I need to. (e) I have no idea what ‘smoking dishes’ are – but I approve of smoking in all forms so I’m definitely up for smoking dishes – presumably outside? (f) Michelin is hinted at again even if they do or don’t have a Michelin Star(s) yet… with the phrase…”Michelin service is presented with elegance and finesse, and we focus on tailoring our service to each table.”
I’ve always thought it wonderfully ironic that a manufacturer of rubber tyres has managed to diversify to be the definitive source of wisdom on food… good on ’em. The AA does not have quite the same cachet. Perhaps because they spent too much time saluting motorists in the good old days.
F**k it.. to quote Gordon Ramsay. I won’t ever be asked to review a restaurant again… but… that is life… I’m orf to a caff to eat some spagbol and drink a lot of house red… Sorry there is no law.. been overdoing the law a bit lately… Ciao.
To be fair – thoroughly enjoyed doing a few reviews for LawandMore – and the restaurants I visited were great. A message to the Editor who set my chest hair on fire accidentally at a long lunch… “If you wan’t me to do more reviews… you know my number. I suspect I may only be doing “Caffs” after this! We shall, no doubt, speak!”
UPDATE on Michelin Stars. I felt guilty saying that I couldn’t be bothered to check if Launceston Place had a Michelin Star(s)… so I called them on 0871 962 0636, spoke to a young lady called Julia, explained that I was doing an article for a blog on restaurants and asked how many Michelin Stars they had. “None at the moment.. but we are hoping for one” was the straight reply. Fair enough. Sorted. Have to be thorough in research.