6-10 Bruton Street
Tel. 020 7495 7100
Food type: French
Nearest tube: Bond Street
Website: The Square
Note: Phil Howard has sold the Square to MARC. Phil is now cooking at Elystan Street while Gary is now helming Angler. As such these reviews of the Square are now of historical interest. The Square were demoted both stars in the 2017 Michelin Guide.
I have a significant backlog of meals that are in the blog queue. My last visit to the Square was late in January which I had yet to write about. Yet, when browsing through the news on twitter today, I was hit by the bombshell that this was the last week for Gary Foulkes. Say what?!? I so happened to be around the vicinity, attending a course at the Royal Society of Medicine and after confirming that the rumours were indeed true, decided to drop by the Square to have one last meal with Gary in charge.
As much as the Square is about Phil Howard’s food (he of course has the final say of what goes on the menu), since Gary returned as head chef at the Square the cooking here has taken on a lighter touch. This is a huge departure from the Rob Weston’s style which was big, bold and rich. As much as I enjoy rich cooking with lashings of butter, I felt that I needed to lie down afterwards.
After a couple of canapés (which I have covered previously), I began my meal with a dish of oysters. Todays oysters come from Jersey (on a previous visit, they were using Porthilly oysters) which were gently poached and served with some rhubarb and tokyo turnip. The natural tartness of the rhubarb was a great foil for the oyster and the turnip added an interesting bitter-sweet note. There was also a generous spoonful of golden oscietra caviar, its briny notes an interesting juxtaposition to the salinity of the oyster. For this course, the sommelier suggested a glass of Riesling Kanta by Egon Muller which was a fantastic match – the wine picked up plenty of the floral notes from the herb oil and stood up well to the tartness of the rhubarb.
Next was a singular scallop, served whole with seasonal morels and a cauliflower puree. It is indeed rare to find scallops the size of my fist in England and I was pleased that it was kept whole. In France, it is common to be served scallops whole but in England, restaurants tend to slice them up as it gives the customer the illusion they are getting more value for their money. A large scallop sliced into 3 pieces looks more generous on the plate. I also suspect it makes cooking a tad easier. The scallop here was cooked with some hazelnut butter which gave it a beautiful nutty note. By keeping it whole, the diner gets to experience a wide range of textures from the crisp, caramelised exterior to the interior which is just barely set. A thin veil of lardo di colonnata is draped over the scallops and morels giving a beautiful rich mouthfeel to the dish.
This was followed by an old Square classic of fish and pigs trotters given a major facelift. In this case a fillet of brill was served with a cromesqui of pigs trotters and ham hock on a bed of lentils mixed with more trotters and ham hock. The piece of brill, cut from a sizeable fish, was perfectly timed with a crisp exterior which is a difficult technique to perfect. Trust me I have tried. Many times. The fish either is overcooked and falls apart or the exterior is insipid and flabby. I particularly enjoyed the hot, oozing filling from the cromesqui which had a slightly sweet, almost Hoisin-like flavour to it.
The final savoury course was a saddle of lamb with just in-season Jersey royals. Gary and I have a running joke about a very raw lamb dish I had at Michelin starred restaurant. The lamb here had been slow cooked but still had a nice hue of pink to it and as you would expect of new season lamb, it was bursting with flavour. The accompaniments on the plate – morels, wild garlic and jersey royals all screamed of spring.
Finally to desserts, and I tried one of the newer items on the menu – caramelised pear and puff pastry. I had actually had this dessert as well on my previous visit, but for some reason, the dish tasted a lot better today. I wonder if they have tweaked the sweetness around a bit. The dish had a nice combination of savoury and sweet which is how I like my desserts. The whole burnt honey idea is very interesting giving a slightly nutty and molasses-like flavour to the dish.
This was yet again another excellent meal at the Square. After ordering some tea, I managed to catch up with Gary. He informs me that he will be heading off to Asia for a month before taking up an executive chef position in another Michelin starred restaurant in London. This will give him more creative control with writing his own menu and incorporating more Asian flavours. I look forward to visiting the restaurant when he has settled in nicely into his new kitchen. The Square will of course carry on although it will be interesting to see who will replace Gary as their head chef and how their cuisine will evolve as a result.