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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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Editor's note. In March 2016 it was announced that Phil Howard was to leave The Square (to set up Ellystan Place) and that the restaurant had been sold to Marlon Abela, who runs a group of restaurants including The Greenhouse and Umu. As of Septemner 2016 the new head chef was Yu Sugimoto, formerly of Meurice in paris. 

At this meal I decided to go back to some tried and tested dishes that have become fixtures on the menu over the years. Lasagne of Dorset crab rested in a fluffed-up foamy “cappuccino” of shellfish and champagne. The crab had good flavour and the shellfish foam worked well as the accompaniment (easily 17/20). 

A trio of langoustine tails with Parmesan gnocchi came with an emulsion of potato and truffle. This is a classic dish at The Square and for me one of their best dishes. The langoustines were carefully cooked with a hint of inherent sweetness, the earthy taste of the emulsion is an excellent foil to the shellfish (18/20).

Morels with gnocchi were served with garlic leaves and a broth that was far too salty, even to my taste. Me complaining about a dish being too salty is like Jeremy Clarkson complaining about a car being too fast: it is an unusual occurrence. The morels had good flavour but they were overwhelmed by the salt (hard to score but at best 13/20). 

Roast turbot came with smoked celeriac milk puree, salsify, finely shredded buttered cabbage and a Parmesan, truffle and hazelnut pesto crust. This was excellent, the fish precisely cooked, the cabbage working well with the fish, and the crust an interesting touch that lifted the dish (18/20).

Bresse pigeon came with sarladaise potato, root vegetable chutney, watermelon radish and foie gras. This is another Square stalwart, the bird having very good flavour, the foie gras adding further luxury and richness that is balanced by the potato and chutney (17/20).

Panna cotta of apple jelly with apple beignet was lovely, the beignet’s richness nicely balanced by the sharpness of the apple; Homer Simpson would certainly have approved of the doughnut (18/20). Brillat Savarin cheesecake came with Yorkshire rhubarb, blood orange and cardamom ice cream. The rhubarb is a nice way to balance the richness of the cheesecake, which had very good texture (17/20).

Strawberries came with a white chocolate cigar with white chocolate mouse and strawberry sorbet. Although white chocolate is something of an imposter of an ingredient (it is not technically chocolate at all), this was certainly a very pleasant dish, and the acidity of the strawberries (albeit this was early March) went well with the chocolate (16/20).

Warm chocolate soufflé came with what was supposed to be peppermint ice cream, yet tasted of spearmint. The texture of the soufflé was odd, more fondant than soufflé, so although it was rich and pleasant to eat it did not really match its description (14/20).

Service was very good, attentive and efficient. Our bill was actually pretty high, but this was due to choosing some quite expensive wine from the excellent list here. Three courses here are £90 (though some dishes have supplements), so if you ordered a modest bottle of wine to share then with water, coffee and service a realistic bill would weigh in at around £140 a head.

Further reviews: 23rd Jul 2019 | 20th Dec 2017 | 28th Jan 2017 | 11th Nov 2013 | 07th Jul 2011

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