The Square is a no nonsense name for a two Michelin star restaurant and indicative of the restaurant’s approach. From the moment you walk into the unadorned dining room featuring various shades of beige, it is clear that the emphasis here is on the food.
MTV boyfriend and I head to The Square on a Saturday night and the atmosphere is hushed and almost reverent. We decide to put ourselves in the hands of the Head chef, Philip Howard, and order the degustation menu with matched wines at an eye watering £150 each. For this price you get the best service that I have ever experienced at a restaurant. We have our own sommelier who discusses each of the seven wines that we are served with us while an army of waiters ensure that each of our copious courses is presented perfectly.
The wine is a real highlight, but interestingly in a French restaurant there is not a single French wine on the degustation menu, rather the wines hail from wineries in rather less well known wine regions such as Santorini in Greece and Batthyany Hungary. Our sommelier tells us that the aim is to showcase a variety of wines.
First off the rank is the amuse bouche featuring a selection of delights including anchovy and Parmesan crisps and the a small pastry cornetto filled with foie gras that is so decadently rich that it almost tastes like a creamy dessert rather than a savoury appetiser. Then the menu proper begins with a gutsy game consommé which is served in a fluted white pot. It is accompanied by the most elegant scotch egg that you have ever seen along with a piece of toast topped with bacon mousseline.
Next up, crisp Scottish langoustine tails with fluffy parmesan gnocchi and just a hint of truffle. Then there is more foie gras, this time roasted and served with endive confit and semi dried pineapple. This was probably the only course that disappointed me as the bitterness of the endive confit overpowered the sweet pineapple and rich foie gras.
The flavours are milder in the turbot fillet which is a case of white on white as the fish is served with a creamy truffled cauliflower puree. It is the next course of grouse which is the most memorable of the evening. A breast of grouse is served with crushed root vegetables and sweet elderberries. The flavours are vibrant and robust and with one bite you almost feel like you have been transported to a Scottish moor.
In the French style the cheese course is served before desserts so a “tasting of Barkham blue cheese” arrives next. It is fabulously stinky but I must admit to some slight disappointment that we do not get to sample more from the legendary cheese trolley at The Square. I suppose if we had done that we would not have been able to squeeze in the quivering block of red currant cheesecake which is cut through with a sharp blackcurrant sorbet.
To finish, we enjoy the theatre of the peach melba souffle where our waiter pours a jug of hot berry puree and creme anglais into the towering, fluffy souffle. It is all I can do to squeeze in a bite of the petit fours served in a hedgehog style arrangement. I am incredibly full but that is beside the point as eating at The Square is as much a feast for your eyes and an exercise for your brain as it is a way to fill your stomach.
Head chef, Phillip Howard was featured on Masterchef last week where he stressed that, to him, flavour is more important than presentation. Still, there is no denying that this is beautiful food served with style. The degustation menu at The Square is an expensive undertaking but you are left in no doubt as to what the money has been spent on.
Details: 6-10 Bruton Street, Mayfair W1J 6PU (Ph 020 7495 7100) Tube: Bond Street
Damage: Budget breaking
If you liked this you might be interested in Michelin star French dining at a less astronomical price from The Ledbury or for French food on a tight budget try Bloody French.