There are legendary London restaurants and legendary London restaurants. Langan’s Brasserie is the latter. Langan’s is named after Irish entrepreneur Peter Langan, who opened the restaurant in 1976 in partnership with Sir Michael Caine. Yes, that Michael Caine.
Unsurprisingly, having one of the world’s biggest actors as co-owner ensured the great and good flocked to Langan’s like fireflies. Throughout the 1980s, Langan’s attracted a clientele who read like your ultimate dream dinner party brought to life. Muhammad Ali, Marlon Brando, David Bowie, Rudolf Nureyev: name the industry, and its leading lights would be found here. Musical royalty, acting royalty, sporting royalty, royalty royalty – Princess Grace of Monaco used to drop by. Ditto Princess Margaret.
Yet perhaps no visitor to Langan’s could compete with its founder: no, not Sir Michael but Peter, an eccentric alcoholic who supposedly consumed champagne bottles by the dozen, daily, and often insulted many of his distinguished patrons (Orson Welles was a “stupid, fat fuck”). In 1988, Langan burnt down his own house and died in hospital six weeks later.
After his death, the restaurant gradually passed out of fashion, as is the fate of fashionable London restaurants. Yet two experienced restaurateurs, Graziano Arricale and James Hitchen, are restoring Langan’s to its former glory and recapturing its place as a mainstay of London’s dining scene. Make no mistake: if it’s good enough for Mick Jagger, it’s good enough for you.
What’s the vibe?
You're basically eating in an art gallery. A very, very cool Parisian art gallery (is there any other type?) where the waiters rock stylish green uniforms and an effortless charm that makes Jay Gatsby look like Cletus the Slack Jawed Yokel. Rest assured you're in the safest of hands.
Art has always been fundamental to the Langan’s experience, with the likes of David Hockney, Lucien Freud, and Francis Bacon showcasing their works on its walls. Interior designer Peter Mikic continues this tradition by displaying a range of British talent. The main dining room, for example, is dominated by a mural from Glaswegian artist France Lise McGurn.
What to order?
The menu has a strong French accent as you would expect. For starters, spinach soufflé is a Langan’s staple – and what a souffle it is, the creamy warmth spreading over your taste buds like a rising tide. If you fancy the full experience, get the snails in garlic butter. Good enough to make you don a beret and sing La Marseillaise.
Mains? The Lobster Bucatini is very good and manages the rare achievement of getting even better the more you eat, as the lobster further flavours the sauce. The Filet of Beef Rossini is something else, a handsome hunk of dark meat served with seared foie gras and black truffle, so gorgeously rich even Creosus would approve.And while we didn’t order the Fish Pie, Langan’s Fish Pie is very celebrated. Two of you will be required to have at it.
Sommelier Guillem Kerambrun has created a wine menu so chunky it could serve as holiday reading. If you’re unsure, surrender yourself to the staff who will expertly pair a glass with your chosen food. Bit of an oenophile? Ask for the secret wine list, which contains some big beasts and rare attractions. We can’t tell you more – it’s a secret, after all.
What’s the damage?
Langan’s Brasserie is not a place to visit on a budget. The snails and souffle are among the cheaper of the starters at £12.5 and £15 respectively, while seared Lyme Bar scallops will set you back £24. Main courses range from £24 (Artichoke Risotto) to £108 for 650g of Boneless Ribeye from the grill. Several dishes are designed for sharing: the Fish Pie is £66 between two.
Shun booze and the bill might sneak under £200. But visiting Langan’s and shunning booze is a waste – this is an evening of indulgence, a treat, and should be embraced as such. Tread carefully around the wine list by all means – use your imagination re. the stickier prices – but don’t exercise undue restraint. Peter Langan would be very disappointed.
Fancy a nightcap? Upstairs at Langan’s is a late-night lounge, um, upstairs, open from 6pm to 3am, Monday to Saturday. Booze, food, live music and a DJ to get the party going. However you can’t just waltz inside: attendance is invite only, although club members are allowed to bring three guests. Best get networking.
Stratton St, London W1J 8LB; Langan’s Brasserie