The Square is one of our best-selling fine dining experiences. Holder of two Michelin stars, its doors first opened over two decades ago, and it has held onto its Michelin rating for more than fifteen years. That’s no easy feat, and so expectations were high as I set foot inside the restaurant.
After a warm greeting, we were showed to our table. The restaurant is dimly lit, with large pieces of art adorning the walls and a vast space in the centre of the room, which allows the waiting staff to move from table to table with ease. The atmosphere is formal, but relaxed.
Our first offering consisted of a selection of freshly-baked bread with two slabs of butter: one salted, one unsalted. This was followed by the sommelier presenting us with a small encyclopaedia of wine. There was so much choice, we could have been there all evening, if left to decide for ourselves. Luckily the sommelier was extremely helpful – and knowledgeable – and offered us a delicious bottle of white that paired delicately with my vegetarian tasting menu, and my dining partner’s non-vegetarian tasting menu.
To begin our meals we were presented with a light amuse bouche, followed by nine courses; my favourites included ‘rosemary smoked perlina aubergine with violet artichokes and basil dressing’. The aubergine was soft and the dressing sharp; it paired together perfectly. Other highlights included ‘ratte potatoes with charred gem lettuce and lord of the hundreds fondue’. Again, the flavours and textures blended very well together. James’ highlights included ‘lasagne of Dorset crab with a cappuccino of shellfish and champagne foam’ and ‘slow cooked saddle of herdwick lamb with new season’s coco beans, charred gem lettuce and datterini tomato’. Each course was followed by us both marvelling at the delicious flavours and cooking techniques presented to us on each plate.
Towards the end of our meal, we were invited into the kitchen for a behind-the-scenes tour. Having never stepped foot inside a restaurant kitchen, I was intrigued to see the mad, crazy rush of service taking place. Instead, everything seemed very calm and organised! We met the head chef, who gave us a quick run-through of each of his team’s role, before being led around a corner to the dessert section, where the pastry chef introduced himself, and told us a little about how the desserts are made. It was a fun glimpse into the workings of a Michelin-starred kitchen, and a definite highlight of our visit.
The evening followed with desserts. Here, both the vegetarian and non-vegetarian tasting menus included the same dishes, and so James and I were able to compare notes. Firstly, we were presented with ‘liquorice crisp with assam tea cream and English raspberries’. The tea cream was delicately flavoured, and the liquorice crisp and raspberries created a sharp and refreshing contrast. The following dish was called ‘charred flat peach with homemade yoghurt, peruvian marigold and blackened meringue’. Again, the flavour combination was delightful. This was followed by nyangbo chocolate and stout to finish. Our wine bottle empty, we settled the bill and made our way to the exit, where we were presented with a small bag, containing copies of our menus and a box of chocolate truffles. We ate them as we walked along Bruton Street; the truffles were dark and rich, but with a light texture: like everything about our meal at The Square, the balance was as close to perfect as you can get.