Saturday 25 May 2013

The Square: exactly what you would expect

Sometimes a restaurant can be ruined by expectation - Heston's Dinner is a prime example, nothing wrong, just not all that! But sometimes it can go the other way - when the Fashionista first dragged me to Honest Burger in Brixton back before it became the sensation it now is (they are even tying up with television shows these days!), little did I expect that I was about to eat my all time favourite burger. So what was I expecting from The Square - technically excellent cooking, a little flair (but not too much, we were in Mayfair after all), and faultless service. And what did I get? Exactly that - not much to excite, but everything just so.

Phil Howard has been round the block - he knows how to run a restaurant. You don't keep two Michelin Stars for as long as he has if you don't. On the Wednesday night we visited, most guests were brandishing their company cards come payment time. That is not a bad thing, but it is a reality. And it has an impact on the atmosphere of the place - just a little sedate.

But enough of that, on to the food. We started with a wafer cone filled with foie gras and some rice crackers and taramasalata - all spot on. Then another pre-course of "scrambled egg" - I have no idea what was in this, but my it was tasty.
The "scrambled egg"

While others went for the signature crab lasagne with champagne and shellfish foam, I was drawn to the trotters. I always am. There is something about the gelatinous, sticky, loveliness that I keep coming back to.  Served wrapped in Pata Negra ham with peas and a light broth it was excellent.

The trotter
To follow I opted for the Pot au Feu of pigeon with asparagus, morels and barley and hazelnut dumplings.  The pigeon melted, the dumplings like the best ever gnocchi, the morels rich - heavy umami - the broth was just too salty for me though. I ended up battling valiantly to avoid the liquor - I should have been wanting to swim in the stuff.

Moving on to sweeter things, the chocolate souffle looked suitably impressive and was consumed in silence, but for the odd mmm and ahh - the sign of a good dish. Being not much of a desert man I opted for the closest thing to their (very impressive looking) cheese trolley - cheesecake with sheep's milk ice cream. The cheesecake was fine, the sheep's milk ice cream good, but not a patch on Isaac McHale's at The Clove Club. But the dessert had a secret super ninja trick up its sleeve - a small dark blue blob that, when pressed, revealed all - dark blackberry, sweet, delicious, like a Rowentrees' Fruit Pastille (come on, none of us would go for any flavour other than blackberry if we had a choice!), but better - that good! And with that, the dish was pulled to another level - delicious.

There followed many sweets, jellied and choclatey, all very nice (some were struck silent mid sentence by the salted caramel chocolates!) and a good selection of Plantation rums - it would have been rude not to.

So back to that expectation thing. I got what I expected. That is not to say I didn't like it - the place has two stars for goodness sake - I was expecting a lot.  Would I go back?  With a group, with work, unequivocally yes. The food was, in the main, delicious. For a meal for two?  No, it just doesn't strike me as that kind of place.

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