London Larder was devised in 2012 to bring you the ultimate eating and drinking guide to London. It was borne out of a need for up-to-date, quantitative and whole-heartedly recommended places to eat and drink.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Square


London has always been a global centre of culinary excellence. Since the dawn of our civilisation, many of the best chefs in the world have migrated to London to cook for the capital's more discerning diners and this is truer now than ever before. Sometimes however, our home-grown chefs can be overlooked, and it's high time that they receive the recognition they deserve.

One such chef is Phil Howard, who for the last two decades has been the driving force behind Mayfair institution, The Square. If the name sounds familiar, you may recognise him as a winning finalist from the BBC's Great British Menu where he impressed the judges with a velouté and tartare of mackerel, oyster beignets and sea water jelly. Howard’s restaurant is critically acclaimed too, having been awarded two Michelin stars and being recently voted as the 7th best restaurant in the UK by the National Restaurant Awards. Howard is now in the midst of launching his debut cookbook is the star of a new six-part digital mini-series where he demonstrates the foundation of a successful kitchen. We went along to find out what all the fuss was about.

The Square, located just off Bond Street, exudes elegance and luxury. This is the epitome of fine dining, but without the stuffiness and formality of some top notch establishments. Phil Howard and his team have created a welcoming and relaxing atmosphere, but have retained the sophistication one expects from a Michelin starred establishment.

Our meal started with a wide variety of starters; a warm and hearty minestrone soup hiding within it a slow cooked quail egg and garnished with a savoury onion tart; a rich, heavy slice of roast foie gras; and a rustic chunky terrine of smoked mackerel garnished with prawns, oysters and sea water jelly, reminiscent of his winning menu from the Great British Menu.

The mains which followed were equally exceptional. A strong and gamey breast of grouse accompanied with pearl barley, pancetta and blackberries providing a delightful range of textures; a light and subtly flavoured fillet of turbot, enhanced with bay leaf milk sauce, and the highlight, a sauté of langoustines with Parmesan gnocchi and potato emulsion. The thick meaty tails were bursting with flavour, and would be the first thing we would order if we were to return to The Square.

Maintaining the high standards, the desserts impressed us too: a fluffy and silky plum soufflé which was light as air and hid a sweet fruity centre, and a raspberry cheesecake made with Brillat-Savarin cheese (which disappeared in about a second and was deliciously moreish). If sweet isn't your thing, then we'd certainly recommend the cheese. We sampled the Perl Las and Barkham Blue, which is perfect if you like it strong and mature.

Throughout the entire meal, each course was faultless. Rarely have we tasted food of such outstanding quality and it is clear why they have been awarded two Michelin stars. The front of house staff were equally as delightful and were friendly, attentive and knowledgeable. Phil Howard has built a remarkable empire over the last two decades, and we certainly hope to be visiting The Square regularly over the next 20 years.

6-10 Bruton Street, W1J 6PU

Average price for a main course: £50
Average price for a bottle of wine: £60
Food/drink: 5/5
Service: 5/5
Value: 4/5


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