The year was 1976. The paparazzi were buzzing about Mayfair’s Stratton Street, cameras locked on the front door of Langan’s—the ultimate celebrity hangout masquerading as a brasserie. It was the place to be in London. On a given night anyone from the Sex Pistols to Elizabeth Taylor were seated on classical red chairs beneath an original David Hockney and a cloud of cigarette smoke. Glossed-up debauchery was served with a side of snails and the champagne was endless.
Then Langan’s grew up. One day it’s all casual sex at 2am and seeing Mick Jagger doing coke under a table, and the next it’s listening to slow jazz and offering everyone £5 ginger shots to go with their eggs royale. Langan’s is under different ownership and a lot has changed. It has calmed down to a near-horizontal level and the evening party crowd has moved on. The moody red upholstery has been replaced with plush ivy green velvets and late night starlet-spotting traded for early morning sips of chamomile tea. Once the ultimate place to procure a biblical hangover, Langan’s is now the perfect spot to soothe one with their sophisticated breakfast offerings. But come dinnertime, there’s a strict dress code and the feeling that you’re going to need to keep any laughter to a 40 decibel maximum, even if the laughter is brought on by the fact that they’re charging you £19 for a roasted cauliflower.
The Nostalgiaville menu is still littered with old-school classics. Think vegetable crudités, a delightful marie rose-smothered shellfish cocktail, and a mammoth scallop-loaded fish pie that will set you back a casual £66. That’s right, 66 Great British pounds. The sky-high prices are matched with a “HOW MUCH?!” wine list. Sometimes the dishes don’t live up to their price tag. Case in point, the signature spinach soufflé that lands somewhere between royal baby food and Prue Leith’s worst nightmare. Rest assured that there are some winners on the all-day menu, like the truffle glo-up bangers and mash and pretty much anything you can picture being on Oscar Wilde’s shopping list. Oysters, caviar, gloriously salty french fries are all no-brainer options given the fact that you’re in a room where if the walls could talk they’d probably say “it’s pronounced mo-wett darling”. But the best food here isn’t happening at dinner.
These days, the perfect time to come to Langan’s is first thing. Up and at ‘em everyone, there is streaky Tamworth bacon and caramelised banana french toast waiting. Between the béchamel Arnold Bennett omelette and the crisp white table cloths, this is a breakfast experience that has Impress Your Clients At 9am written all over it. Ditto for a birthday brunch that isn’t going to result in anyone getting unexpectedly barred from Superdrug. You can enjoy the silver-spoon service and hypothesise whether David Bowie sat on that table under the huge windows or opted for a dark corner at the back of the long dining room, but unlike dinnertime, you’re not going to have to invest £200 for the pleasure. The maple-syrup loaded pancakes are some of the best in London, and they’ll only set you back £13.
At a restaurant like Langan’s, everything comes with a history tax. Whether you’re here for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, you’re also getting a side of ’glitzy’ London restaurant history. Is it worth it? That entirely depends on the current state of your bank account and whether you’re in the market for a somewhat stuffy, expensive dinner that is primarily soundtracked by the tinkle of polite conversation. If you’re expecting a legendary party restaurant, 21st-century Langan’s isn’t it. But what do you do when the party’s over? Eat a big satisfying breakfast of course.
Poached Eggs & Avocado Toast
Not all avocado toasts are the same you know. This one has presentation and pumpkin seeds on its side and although it’s a not-so-casual £16.50, we’re not mad about it. The slap of chilli oil and the quality bread makes the price feel a-okay.
Nothing, absolutely nothing, will get us out of bed quicker than a little silver jug of maple syrup. Fluffy, chewy, and covered in zesty fresh fruit, these are some of the best pancakes in town.
Caramelised Banana French Toast
If you’re in the market for a serious sugar high before 11am, this one is for you. Less ‘toast’ and more a giant caramelised chunk of sticky carbohydrates, we approve of the epic portion size. At £12.50 it’s a good shout to get one for the table as a sharer.
The ’70s called and they want their crustacean poster child back. Sorry. We will not give it back because this is one of our favourite things here. Prawn, lobster, and—ding ding ding—a marie rose sauce with just enough tabasco.
Eating oysters at Langan’s just makes sense. It’s what Elizabeth Taylor would have wanted for you. Our personal preference is six of the Jersey oysters but know that whichever oyster you opt for the mignonette has a proper kick of vinegar and pepper.
½ Dozen Snails
Sure, why not? Pair with a bottle of white wine to really make all that garlic and herb butter pop.
Langan's Spinach Soufflé
Green, wet, and a general odeur d’oeuf. With all the trademarks of a BBC kids show gunge challenge, it’s a hard pass on this one.
Langan's Bangers & Mash
Big sausage energy. If we get fired for making that joke, then so be it. There is no better way to explain this tarted-up take on the ultimate comfort classic. We could merrily eat a whole bucket of the onion jam, the sausage has that whole bratwurst chew factor going on, and the on-point périgord sauce officially makes this dish The Fanciest Bangers in Town. A high accolade we know. This is easily our favourite dinner dish here.