When I visited: February 2011
Location: London, Mayfair
Team: Dan Fletcher (Head Chef), Charles Peto (maitre d’), Stephen Nisbet (Head Sommelier)
Rating in the Michelin Guide: 1 star (used to have 2 stars and then was recommended, so has bounced around a bit in the ratings)
What to wear: Men – shirt and jacket and nice trousers and shoes; women – a smart dress and/or smart trousers and a top
Ambience: Formal, perhaps a little charmless
Course of the meal: Lasagne of Dorset crab with a cappucino of shellfish and champagne foam
If I could change one thing: More charm and atmosphere
This was one of the first two-star restaurants I visited (in the 2017 Michelin Guide it fell to simply being a Michelin ‘selection’, i.e. recommended in the Guide but without any stars), as a treat for my partner Owl. My overall impression is that it is very posh and fun, but it perhaps lacks a bit of personality in the service; the restaurant was quite deserted for some of our meal, despite it being a Saturday evening, which didn’t help. As for the food, however, it is genuinely innovative and beautiful to look at and taste.
We had the dinner tasting menu which began with a roulade of octopus with blood orange, fennel and salt and pepper squid; I do enjoy mixing seafood with fruit and blood oranges are one of those fruits that high-end restaurants deploy well. Next came a lasagne of Dorset crab with a cappuccino of shellfish and Champagne foam. In terms of memorable dishes, this one ticks every single box and I can remember it clearly even four and a half years later.
The delicious seafood continued with a saute of Scottish langoustine tails with parmesan gnocchi and an emulsion of potato and truffle butter (YUM), followed by roast foie gras with a tarte fine of endive, ice wine glaze, Seville orange puree and honeycomb. The combination of the fatty foie gras with the sharp orange puree and ice wine glaze was pretty inspired. Turbot and celeriac preceded a loin of venison with salt baked beetroot, stuffed celeriac, a port glazed pear and green peppercorns. Beetroot is another ingredient that high-end restaurants are great at transforming into something amazing (I talk about this more in my review of Texture).
Cheese came in the form of Vacherin Mont D’Or and a tasting of Perl Las, followed by two strong desserts: Brillat-Savarin cheesecake with passionfruit and banana sorbet, and rice pudding souffle with stick toffee sauce, dates and pecan. As much as I love chocolate desserts, it’s sometimes gratifying to see a restaurant attempt to do other things and the Square’s desserts were more than satisfactory.
Overall, the Square provides a very consistent, solidly pleasing tasting menu with some touches of true inspiration, such as the crab lasagne. It just falls short of getting 4 hoots due to a slight lack of personality, but as I haven’t been back since 2011 it’s very possible that this aspect has improved (although its fall in status in the 2017 Michelin Guide suggests it may not be at its best right now).