The Square opened its doors in 1991 and has held its two Michelin stars since 1998 (almost 15 years!). One would be definitely be surprised to know that Phil Howard, the chef and co-owner, has had no formal culinary training. He started his culinary career as an apprentice at Roux Restaurants and worked under Marco Pierre White at Harvey’s as well as under Simon Hopkinson at Bibendum before opening the Square with Nigel Platts-Martin. The food at this Mayfair eatery has been described by Phil as “modern French”, and after having a meal at the restaurant, I completely agree. The deco of the restaurant is sleek and simple. And every dish is unique and carefully crafted by Phil and head chef, Robert Weston.
The amuse bouche was a little cup of game consommé with bacon foam and bacon pieces. I don’t normally take bacon because well…I don’t really like it. Yes, I normally leave the bacon of my full english breakfast to the side, or give it to someone else at the table who likes bacon. Anyway, back to the amuse bouche. Like I said, I do not normally eat bacon, but this dish was tasty, and not bacon-y at all. I wished there was more consommé and less foam though…
I loved loved loved the walnut raisin bread that they served but unfortunately I was only given one piece. After I was done with it, none of the wait staff asked if I wanted another and I could not get anyone’s attention to ask for another. Seemed like they went to the other tables asking if anyone else wanted more but conveniently forgot about me! I was so frustrated.
My first dish was a Slow Cooked Duck Egg with Crushed Pumpkin, Cepes, Trompettes de la Mort Red Wine and Toasted Sour Dough
This dish was delicious. The crushed pumpkin was naturally sweet and fresh. The yolk of the duck egg was not too overwhelming and despite the richness of the sauce, the dish did not feel heavy over all. I loved the toasted sour dough on the top. It added to the texture of the dish, kind of like coutons in a bowl of warm soup.
My second starter was a Warm Salad of Winter Vegetables with Crisp Belly of Iron Age Pig, Apple and Roasting Juices
The presentation here was impeccable. It was so beautifully plated that I did not want to start eating it. The winter vegetables were sweet and crunch. The pork was very tender, and the meat melts in your mouth. The skin was crispy and fatty, which is what crackled pork belly should be. However, I found the dish too oily and rich after a while despite the side of vegetables. Maybe it’s because the first starter was on the “heavy” side as well.
My a la carte dessert was the Rice Pudding and Prune Soufflé with Black Velvet Ice Cream and Chocolate Macaroons
The waiter pierced my soufflé and inserted two scoops of black velvet ice cream in the centre. The black velvet ice cream contains both brandy and champagne, however the alcohol taste was not overwhelming at all. The soufflé was delicious, fluffy, eggy and it rised very nicely in the oven. The black velvet ice cream went very well with the soufflé. I enjoyed it very very much. However, chocolate macarons on the side were not good at all. It was crispy and hard. I am a huge fan of macarons and was very disappointed when I took at bite into these. I didn’t finish the macarons and made a mental reminder to myself to go to Selfridges for a box of Pierre Hermes after my meal. I think I would pick another dessert the next time round…
To finish, I was given 4 pieces of home made nougat, which was very very good.
Overall, The Square is definitely worthy of it’s 2 Michelin stars. The dishes were unique, creative and combination of flavours and textures were fantastic. The ingredients were fresh, and well…from what I hear, The Square serves consistently good food. However, something was lacking. I can’t quite put my finger on it. Maybe it was the dishes that I chose and that they were too rich for me after a while. Maybe I should have had a starter and a main course instead of 2 starters…
The service at The Square could have been better. I felt that some of the wait staff were a little…snotty and well, when it got crowded (it was a full house that day) the staff seemed a bit overwhelmed.
I’m still rather bitter about the walnut raisin bread. Oh, and I found my coat lying on the sofa when I came out of the ladies room. Imagine if someone walked out of the restaurant with my coat!
I think I will make a trip down to The Square again, maybe for the tasting menu. Hopefully Phil Howard will be in as well. I’d love to meet him. I hear that he runs the kitchen himself pretty often.
P.S. Phil Howard has a new cookbook out called The Square: Savoury (I know this because there were little cards everywhere telling us that we could buy them at the restaurant for £40). I may buy it for my mother for Christmas, since it’s only retailing for £26 on Amazon…
Ambience: 3/5 Forks
Service: 2/5 Forks
Food: 3.5/5 Forks
6-10 Bruton Street,
Tel: +44 (0) 20 7495 7100