If somebody was to take the ‘fine’ out of fine dining and keep the incredible standard of food, I’d be there quicker than you can say ’emulsion.’
When I eat at a two-Michelin-starred restaurant, I expect near perfection. After all, there are only twenty or so places in the country that have attained this status. They are undoubtedly the best of the best. But I increasingly find myself wondering, ‘why is fine dining not more fun?’
The Square has built up a reputation for being one of the finest restaurants in the country. I wouldn’t dispute that for a second. Yet, despite the brilliant food, we left wondering if it’s really worth the hefty price tag.
Our plan was to order from the three course menu (£90pp) to keep costs down a little, but in the end we settled on the 9-course tasting menu (£115pp). Everything on there just sounded too good to resist.
First up was a spring vegetable salad. The vegetables were fresh and crunchy and the cheese sauce added great flavour. I could detect truffle oil too, which gave it a pleasant earthiness (but this wasn’t mentioned on the menu). If every salad was like this, the world would be a better place.
The tartare of fruits de mer was so good it laughed in the face of most other raw fish dishes. The salt and vinegar scraps were a fun addition and seasoned the fish perfectly. I could have happily eaten a giant bowlful.
Langoustine was so delightful that I cut it into the tiniest slivers to make it last as long as possible. Quite how they got it so plump and round, I’ll never know. The Parmesan gnocchi was fantastic on its own, but together with the truffle emulsion, it was a touch overpowering for the delicate langoustine.
The slow cooked brill tasted as though it had been cooked sous-vide or perhaps just gently poached. The fish was moist and flaky, the broth was light and flavoursome but I’d have liked some texture with it.
I was delighted to see the humble chicken wing on the menu. It’s always impressive to see unheralded cuts of meat being elevated by great cooking. I’m sure it’s also a big plus for the restaurant’s profit margin.
The quality of the roast rib of beef really stood out. Soft, perfectly cooked meat with a slight hint of gaminess from the ageing process, a rich jus and freshness from the leaves. I couldn’t detect any smoked bone marrow though. When I asked the waiter, he said it was in the jus but you’d never know it.
Desserts were more of a mixed bag. While the strawberry cheesecake didn’t really wow us, the soufflé was the best I’ve ever eaten. Standing tall and proud, it was soft and silky inside with a good crust and topped with a rocher (sounds better than scoop) of lovely Sauternes ice cream.
I understand that many top restaurants are selling an overall experience, rather than just a bit of posh grub. My niggle is that overly fussy service lessens the experience for me. Having someone push my chair in by 5mm when I return from the toilet makes me cringe.
If somebody was to take the ‘fine’ out of fine dining and keep the incredible standard of food, I’d be there quicker than you can say ’emulsion’. It seems a shame that if you want to experience this level of cooking, you can’t avoid hushed dining rooms, professional napkin folders and enforced formality.
Many people would balk at spending in excess of £300 on a meal for two. Quite frankly we did too. At these prices, you’re almost halfway to a good weekend away or a budget holiday. Don’t get me wrong, when a friend asked, ‘Was the food good?’. My answer was of course a resounding ‘yes.’ The Square is well deserving of its two stars and its massive reputation. But is it really worth the money? That’s perhaps a more pertinent question.
Perhaps the best way to experience this place would be as The Critical Couple suggested, on a weekday lunchtime. Take the day off work, enjoy yourself and pay a fraction of what we did.
The quality of the food is not in dispute. I’m sure you’ll never eat a bad meal here. However, for us, it’s hard to argue that this meal offered value for money. If I were a millionaire, of course it would be worth every penny, but sadly I’m not.
Meal for two with a few glasses of wine and service: £340Visit Site
Address: 6-10 Bruton St, London W1J 6PU
Tel: 020 7495 7100