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The Square

6-10 Bruton Street, London, England, W1J 6LB, United Kingdom

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Chef interview

Phil Howard is chef and owner of The Square, which has long been one of London's top restaurants, holding two Michelin stars in 2009.

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The Square these days is part of the group of restaurants run by Marlon Abela, who also owns Umu, The Greenhouse and Morton’s in Berkeley Square.  The dining room these days is dominated by a central statue of a female form that looks to me rather worryingly like a ghostly figure from a Japanese horror film, but is doubtless at the cutting edge of interior design. In charge of the kitchen is Clement Leroy, who worked for ten years at Guy Savoy. His wife Aya Tamura is the pastry chef. There was a tasting menu at £110 as well as a full a la carte selection, with four courses at £95. There was also a cheap lunch menu at £37.50. I have written previously about the wine list here, which is extensive and has some very good growers, especially in Burgundy. It is priced quite aggressively in places, though is not the worst in Mayfair by any means.

In the place of canapés was a trolley with charcuterie, which is an interesting idea. There was rabbit rillette, salmon, fennel and pork sausage and pate en croute made with guinea fowl. This was all very pleasant (15/20), though for example the pate en croute did not compare well to a place that specialises in it, for example the superb version at La Rotonde near Lyon.

Sourdough bread was bought in from the Abela bakery, and was fine. An Orkney scallop was served raw with a citrus dressing and with wild berries and nettles. A dish this simple relies heavily on the quality of the scallop, and while this was certainly good (14/20), it didn’t have the natural sweetness of a really top-notch specimen.  

Better was monkfish, cooked on the bone and served with a mildly spiced sauce. Monkfish is a fine fish but can get overcooked if you as much as look it at harshly, but here the cooking was spot on. The flesh was lovely and the fish had good flavour, enhanced nicely by the accompanying sauce (easily 17/20).

The cheese board had a mix of English and French cheeses, including Ticklemore and Mrs Montgomery Cheddar. These were in good condition but I was rather surprised that the staff had no idea which particular Stilton was being served. A cherry tart at the end of the meal was enjoyable (16/20). Coffee was a choice of capsules from either Nespresso or three of the higher quality (but pricier) ones from The Difference coffee. 

The service was very good, though at this quiet Tuesday lunch they were not exactly stretched dealing with just two tables including ours. The bill came to £215 per person including a nice bottle of red Burgundy and some other drinks, plus coffee. If you shared a modest bottle of wine and ordered a la carte then a typical cost per person might come to around £140 a head. The standard of the food here was, on average, about the same as my previous visit here, though the monkfish at least was excellent. Given Clement Leroy’s background I imagine that there is potential for the food here to be better than this, but in that case greater consistency is also required, whether or not he happens to be in the kitchen at a given service. On this occasion I would agree with Michelin’s current one star assessment.

Further reviews: 20th Dec 2017 | 28th Jan 2017 | 09th Mar 2014 | 11th Nov 2013 | 07th Jul 2011

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  • Alan Spedding (cumbriafoodie)

    `Two` tables occupied at lunchtime at an iconic restaurant right in the middle of peak tourist season....wow. Looks like they should be reviewing their game plan. I would have expected more from Chef after working at such a grand restaurant for 10 years but overall the food looks ok. The Monkfish was presented beautifully , looks so good. I`ve had a couple of very memorable experiences from the square in the past but have to say it isn`t on my list for the future,