Langan’s Brasserie, London


Langan's Brasserie,

Stratton Street, London W1J 8LB

020 7491 8822

Langans Interior

The Bill

A la carte

 Starters £13.00 - £935.00

 Mains £19.00 - £68.00 | Puddings £11.50 - £16.00

The Score

Cooking  6/10 | Service 3.5/5 

Flavour  3/5 | Value 2/5

TOTAL 14.5/25 

Well, there a few reasons.

I say this in response to your perfectly reasonable question, Why, with all of the zillions of places to eat in London, did you you choose this relic? I knew were going to be doing a lot of walking and it was close to our lodgings. That's excuse number one. But mostly, I was curious.

Langan's is legendary. When it was founded by wild Irishman Peter Langan in 1976, it was also mould breaking. An all day dining experience, predating The Wolseley by thirty years (a manager in the early years was Chris Corbin); an attempt to bring Parisian cafe society to London;  a trend setter in relaxing the stuffy dress codes which were then common place. Co-owned with Michael Caine, within a short time it became incredibly successful, as much for celebrity and excess as for the food. From 400 miles away we heard tales of 8 hour business lunches, and cleaners having to hoover round the comatose form of Langan himself.

It all changed, of course, when Langan drank himself into an early grave in 1988. Caine moved on, and chef Richard Shepherd took over. But Langans kept going, changing ownership a couple of times. It closed briefly in The Great Plague, but it's up and running again, and, on the evening of our visit, very busy.

Their website boasts sophisticated cuisine, stellar service and lavish parties.  There is a Wikipedia entry which is nearer the mark. It tells us that in 1977 Shepherd introduced a menu that has changed little since. Now you can't always believe everything you believe on Wikipedia, but...

Walking in here is time machine like. Glance out of the window and you expect to see DCI Gene Hunt firing up the Quattro. It wouldn't surprise you if Ziggy Stardust himself made an entrance, asking for his usual table. Staff are friendly, but they are clad in the bewildering array of coloured jackets which denote status. I never cracked the code in the 70s and 80s, and I'm not going to try now.

But nor am I going to criticise a menu just for being traditional/retro/old fashioned. If you like that sort of thing and want to be vulgarly extravagant, order 125g of Beluga caviar for £935. (30g is a much more affordable £225.) I did, however, chuckle at the other item under the Caviar heading. There is an offering of fish eggs and tuna tartare with avocado pear. Haven't heard it called that in years. You won't be surprised to learn that we passed on this section.

French onion soup (£12) was a great vat of a thing, made with excellent stock and topped with a lot of cheese. Actually quite impressive. Dressed crab (£21) on the other hand, was a fairly shallow layer on a fairly small bowl. I used to complain about Bentley's (£28.50), but Richard Corrigan is providing a whole beast. L reprised her asparagus risotto from Troon (see the review from a couple of weeks back). Not nearly as good, and nearly twice the price. A veal chop (£41) can be a very fine thing, as was this one, with a lovely sage scented gravy. But that's it. That's all you would get on your plate. Chips are a fiver, which isn't too bad, but a dish of peas adds £6.50. You're getting my drift. Something to drink? Well, you'll struggle to find anything under three figures.

Don't write in to tell me about central London rents. Yes, I am aware that in Mayfair you are likely to be paying in excess of £100 per square foot per annum. But Noble Rot is in Mayfair, and compare their pricing. So too is The Wolseley. I looked up their menu with a view to an unfavourable price comparison. But there's the thing: the prices there are actually very similar to those here. It goes to show how subjective is my scoring criterion of Value. In essence, I quite like The Wolseley.

You know how much I enjoy restaurants. At their best, they are places to savour, and in which to linger. With a 7.45 reservation we were fed and back in our hotel room in time for Have I Got News For You. At least that part of the evening went well.

Historical Postscript

I am hugely grateful to dear friend Ms Bette Dubois for providing me with a Langan's menu from sometime in the 1980s. She says that they all fought over the bubble and squeak. Count the number of puds - 28 in total. Crikey!



  1. Mark Baird on 8th July 2023 at 11:24 am

    Langan’s was my favourite London restaurant during the 10 years I travelled up and down to London most weeks. Favourite meal was Veal Holstein with spinach and hand cut chips. Happy memories of many a long business lunch.

    • Tom Johnston on 8th July 2023 at 2:11 pm

      I used to love the old school places. Wasn’t in London that often, though I loved Wheelers. In Edinburgh Cosmo’s was the place. It’s hard to survive the passage of time – though we are both managing! Time for a Tom Eats! lunch soon?

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