Newly re-opened Square under head chef Clement Leroy after Phil Howard departed in 2017
Editor's note: closed Feb 2020 owing to Marlon Abela Restaurant Corporation (MARC) falling into bankruptcy
This is the first re-opening of The Square since Phil Howard left and started his own Elystan Street in Chelsea and the Square is now in the hands of Clement Leroy. Clement Leroy has spent the majority of his cooking years at 3 Michelin starred Guy Savoy and therefore expectations were raised for the new opening. The Square has since gained a Michelin star however I found it was a fair opening meal had on this occasion. Don’t be vexed by the strange-looking centrepiece figure in the room that looks a little haunting, I have been assured that there is no meaning to it other than being art for the restaurant with no further symbolism. The meal was good to have however, I look forward to another opportunity to have an elevated experience.
Snacks at the table included mini seafood cornet with salmon roe, a coconut and carrot tartlet and deep-fried bonbon of corn. These were elaborate but slightly unusual flavours to have. The amuse bouche of parsnip panna cotta, nori pear jelly liquorice foam and parsnip crisps was fair. Rye and honey bread came with a soft goat milk butter with thyme which was ok but in all honesty, I prefer normal butter that is good to other variants – might as well stick to winning formulas.
The first course was mackerel in brine smoked cream, leaks and radish snow & a mackerel tart. This was followed by langoustine hibiscus foam, cauliflower semolina and cream and crispy head of langoustine. Sweet breads marinated suede spinach purée and grapefruit were followed by duck foie gras, apple mango and ginger which was a decent combination.
Mullet was cooked with hot oil and served with aubergine, sea herb selection and onion gel. Fillet from Cumbria was served with Swiss chard, beef cheeks and marinated stout beer. Shallot foam came with the beef cheeks. Coriander and mango sorbet came with mango chunks and lemongrass foam to make a pretty picture. The main dessert was an elaborate decoration of raspberry & vanilla, coffee and pear, pistachio and grapefruit. Petit fours were nibbles of biscuits and mini sponges comprising of chocolate, lemon, hazelnut, blackcurrant and chestnut.
The bottom line for this meal is that for all of the artwork, careful presentation and work gone into it, I don’t think I will remember a single course regrettably as nothing stood out as so enjoyable or memorable. This is not to say it was a bad meal, please do not misinterpret, but it was like a conveyer belt of carefully crafted anticlimaxes and in some cases left me a little confused. I believe another visit is in order to see how the menu evolves in a year or so.
As this is a new regime, the overall food grade is not the average of all scores up until this point but taken from the first experience of chef Leroy.
Food Grade: 73%
Food-wise even better than last time. At a slight advantage, I had to try Phil Howard’s Great British Menu victory starter of mackerel which was the best soup, tartare and smoked versions of mackerel I have ever had in my life – worth the reassuringly obscene price of the tasting menu just to have that dish. The entire meal was again superb and there wasn’t a thing I didn’t like on the whole menu. Shame he had to leave so soon in the evening without being able to say hello to the diners, but a milestone meal.
Food Rating: 93%
Phil Howard simply knows how to keep things classical in his approach to all dishes and never forgets substance and the point of having the meal – to really enjoy the flavours! The dishes he makes are stylish and undeniably impressive and I never had any issues with any of his dishes – a difficult level of consistency to maintain, which he does. The only thing I didn’t like is the fact that as a special place with special prices, the décor feels more suited for business lunches and unless you are a foodie I can imagine most struggling with how utterly drab the feel and design of restaurant is. However, wonderful food guaranteed.
Food Grade: 91%
Location (Click google logo for directions)