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Tasting Menu @ The Square**, London [Restaurant Review]

Monday, 9 February 2009

Reviewed by The Wild Boar.

Me and the fiancee went to a 2 Michelin starred restaurant, The Square for her birthday meal (it was also partly to celebrate Valentine’s as well since it was so near, 2 for 1 haha). We had actually gone past the restaurant quite a few times before and I had parked just outside it without ever noticing the place. It’s just off New Bond Street so pretty well located in Central London. To be honest, prior to the Pig Pig choosing this place for dinner (my first choice was Marcus Wareing but no availability), I hadn’t heard of this place before.

Our dinner was for 7pm and we were only the third table to be seated upon arrival. Dress code was smart casual but the other diners present – 1 table was of 5 Japanese businessman, doubtless ex-Nomura executives enjoying their bonuses with continuous glasses of wine and champagne – were all in jackets. The interior was nothing fancy but had an overall atmosphere of generalised posh-ness. I felt a bit out of place in my wrinkled shirt and jeans.

Luckily the waiters didn’t outwardly care about how I look and were very attentive, polite and smiling throughout the dinner. Once we chose the tasting menu and ordered a bottle of still water and a glass of wine (I had to drive so minimal alcohol intake only, sadly), the complimentary canapés quickly came out. It was laid out on a wooden block (presumably custom made?) and it consisted of a cheese cracker, foie gras mousse in a cornetto, beetroot wrapped around goat’s cheese, roulade of smoked salmon, cheese ball, anchovy breadstick. They also brought round some breads, of which they had 3 kinds for our munching pleasure – plain white mini French baguettes, brown mini loaves and a walnut and raisin bread which was very nice to eat when warm.

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Complimentary canapés

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Walnut and raisin bread

The first course of “A Tasting of Quail” came quite quickly (and so did the rest at a nice good pace). There were 3 bits to this, the first being a quail tortellini in a quail consommé with a very generous splash of truffle oil. It’s a pity you can’t see the consommé in the little cup/bowl/beaker because the surface was literally rippling with oil – very nice and fragrant to breathe in and drink. There was a quail version of scotch egg which I wasn’t too excited on, but the Pig Pig waxed lyrical on the half cooked nature of the egg. Lastly there was a toasted sandwich with quail breast, foie gras and sliced cucumber within. The fois gras was lovely to eat but I didn’t get to taste much of the quail within – if only other places could make club sandwiches like this…

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A Tasting of Quail

We followed on with “Saute of Langoustine Tail with Parmesan Gnocchi and an Emulsion of Potato and Truffle”. The langoustine tail was juicy, just nicely cooked, springy in texture, and absolutely delicious with the truffle sauce. The gnocchi had just enough parmesan to give it taste but not make me gag and was quite firm. I personally preferred it slightly softer.

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Saute of Langoustine Tail with Parmesan Gnocchi and an Emulsion of Potato and Truffle

The last of appetiser courses was “Roast Foie Gras with a Sweet and Sour Eiswein Glaze, Blood Orange and Rhubarb”. You really need a zoomed in picture to appreciate just how fatty and soft the foie gras was. The darker streak is a mousse made from blood oranges which was quite earthy and sour for me, while the little pinky orange blob was a quite sweet rhubarb jelly. The foie gras was sitting on a bed of rhubarb bits which were tongue curlingly sour and topped with some honey coated bits. The foie gras was lovely but I though the oranges were too sour.

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Roast Foie Gras with a Sweet and Sour Eiswein Glaze, Blood Orange and Rhubarb

First of the two mains was “Fillet of Turbot with Celeriac Puree, Savoy Cabbage, Caramelised Trotter and Lentils”. The turbot was nice, quite light but still springy in texture with a slightly crispy surface. You can try to look for the trotter, but you won’t find it in the pictures, finding it in the dish was hard enough. But every now and then when biting into the lentils there was a spongy piece of fat to savour. Overall very nice but a little on the salty side.

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Fillet of Turbot with Celeriac Puree, Savoy Cabbage, Caramelised Trotter and Lentils

Next up was a “Loin of West Country Venison with a Caramelised Root Vegetable Croustillant, Beetroot Puree and Pear”. I’m not particularly sure what a “croustillant” is, but the mix of vegetables with shreds of venison meat in a puff pastry was amazing. The venison itself was nicely pink and rare and went very well with the beetroot puree which highlights the gameyness of the meat. The pear mousse was a sweeter alternative to the beetroot which I personally liked to pair with the pastry.

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Loin of West Country Venison with a Caramelised Root Vegetable Croustillant, Beetroot Puree and Pear

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Although we didn’t have a selection of cheese in the tasting menu (although we noticed a waiter going around with a quite well stocked cheese trolley), we had a course of cheesey offerings. In the bowl was “Celery and Apple Jelly with Celeriac Puree and Vacherin Foam”. I’m not a big fan of cheese so I took one whiff of it and decided I wouldn’t like it. To be fair, I still tried it but my earlier prediction proved accurate enough.

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Celery and Apple Jelly with Celeriac Puree and Vacherin Foam

Along with the jelly was a little saucer of cheese, and a selection of crackers, home made biscuits and slices of a loaf of walnut and raisin bread. I didn’t expect to like the cheese in the saucer, but it gave me a good few minutes of confusion as I both loved and hated it at the same time. The cheese was quite mild in flavour, but still very rich and smooth and absolutely just coated the tongue. I asked the waiter for the name of it but he had a pretty thick French accent. I think we made it out to be a Vacherin Mont d’Or from North East France along the French-Swiss border for those who are interested.

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Vacherin Mont d’Or (maybe?)

Lastly for the desserts we had “Brillat-Savarin Cheesecake with Passion Fruit and Mango” and “Date Soufflé with Caramelised Orange and Almond Ice Cream”. A quick search on Google found an entry of Brillat-Savarin on Wikipedia as a soft cow’s milk cheese with approximately 40% overall fat content and resembles rich cream cheese. I’m not too sure how much fat most cheese have, but this was the most dense, rich, luscious cheesecake I ever tasted. The only possible complaint I have is that there wasn’t enough.

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Brillat-Savarin Cheesecake with Passion Fruit and Mango

After that, the soufflé was light as a feather and the almond ice cream was top notch. The waitress did a funny thing with the ice cream, dumping a spoonful of it right into the middle of the soufflé, which wasn’t to my liking since it melted far too quickly. The Pig Pig said it was a tad too sweet, and I have to agree with her. But honestly, my mind was still on the cheesecake.

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Date Soufflé with Caramelised Orange and Almond Ice Cream

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Some complimentary caramel truffles and petit fours were given to finish the meal. We had some fun guessing what the petit fours were made of – apple in jelly, pineapple in jelly, orange, blood orange and chocolate swiss roll.

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Caramel truffles

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Petit fours

Whilst I had a pretty good cup of filtered coffee, the maître d' offered to ask the chef, Philip Howard to autograph our copy of the tasting menu. Overall for two sets of tasting menus, a glass of wine, a bottle of still and a cup of coffee, the meal came up to £240 including gratuity and excellent attentive service throughout. Well worth it for me. I think my fiancée also enjoyed her birthday dinner too.

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Food - 8.5
Service - 8.0
Atmosphere - 8.0
Value - 6.0

The Square
6-10 Bruton Street
Tel: +44 (0) 20 7495 7100
Fax: +44 (0) 20 7495 7150
Official website

Square on Urbanspoon

37 oink oinks...:

Food For Tots said...

What a romantic dinner! The dessert esp date soufflé with caramelised orange and almond ice creamthe looks fantastic! Happy Birthday PigPig!

Hayley said...

What an experience, I'm so jealous. Happy Birthday, it looks like you had a wonderful one!

Bob said...

Happy birthday! What a fancy meal, I wouldn't even know how to eat it properly! ;)

Natashya said...

What a treat! I have never had food like that before, what exquisite presentation!
(you do still owe her another present though - there is no such thing as two for one when it comes to women and presents!)

jesse said...

What a gorgeous meal! Happy birthday!!

Lorraine @NotQuiteNigella said...

Happy Birthday to pig pig! *sigh* this meal makes me miss London food. You guys have brilliant food over there. I like the presentation of the canapes with the anchovy breadstick sticking out too!

Peter M said...

A most posh for a pig-pig indeed!

Reeni♥ said...

Happy Birthday Pig Pig!! What a special meal. Everything is so wonderful to gaze at and dream of how it tastes from the Wild Boar's great descriptions. I think I like the desserts the best!

5 Star Foodie said...

Sounds like a very nice meal. i would love to taste some of that venison! Happy birthday!

Selba said...

Happy birthday, Pig Pig! Sounds that you had a wonderful b'day dinner :)

Little Inbox said...

What a fine dining. Happy belated birthday!

The Caked Crusader said...

Looks like a lovely experience. I love the way they served the petit fours

Margaret said...

Beautifully executed and presented meal. All sounds amazing to me!

Jo said...

Oh wow, looks like you guys really went all out. The food looks fantastic and the presentation is beautifully done.

Grace said...

what elegant food! i'm quite sure that i'd stick out like a sore thumb in this place. :)

mycookinghut said...

I think the food at The Square is good and not pretentious. We went there last year for my birthday and chose tasting menu too. I personally think that it's far better than Pied à Terre, which has got 2 Michelin Star. But, shame on the size of the restaurant - too small. And the food is alright.
Next time, if you don't want to spend so much for Michelin star meal, try The Capital. 2 courses at £27.50 and 3 courses at £33.00 (excl. wine)
Club Gascon is great too. 1 Michelin star, great food and great service - less expensive of course compared to The Square. But, well worth the experience!

Katherine Aucoin said...

Happy birthday and what an exquisite feast!

SusanQ said...

Happy Birthday, Pig Pig and what a beautiful pictoral review of a wonderful celebration meal, Wild Boar! Everything was so beautifully presented.

Olga said...

How on Earth did you manage to take such marvelous photos inside a restaurant?

The desserts look incredible!

once in a blue moon... said...

heck of a feast and gorgeous pics!

luckytastebuds said...

wow I can't even imagine how tasty that souffle must have tasted. I think that would have been my favorite dish. :P Oh tasting menu's. How I love, yet despise them. (i.e. wanna try them, but can't afford to) GRRRRR

Pam said...

I am so jealous - What a feast! Excellent photos.

Sylvie said...

Happy Birthady. What a treat you had, the menu looks amazing.

veggie belly said...

What a great looking meal! Love the photos!

biz319 said...

I just finished my lunch and my mouth is watering!

Sadly, my husband cannot do tasting menus, as its not enough food for him!

The first time we had a 7 course meal, with wine pairings - cost us $125 PER PERSON and we had to stop at Burger King on the way home so he could get something to eat!

And at that price, good idea to combine birthday with Valentine's Day!

Mo Diva said...

I would KILL for the chance to do that! Those dishes look AMAZING!

Indonesia-Eats said...

Happy birthday, Pig Pig!
What a wonderful dinner, and for sure lovely pictures

Mallory Elise said...

holy shit that's like 350$ !!!!! i wanna be friends with you guys :P hehe

great photos, for inside, i hate taking shots in a restaurant. bravo~

Marc @ NoRecipes said...

Wow that looks fantastic and quite a bargain for what you got. We're planning on doing v-day at home this year since we're living of 1 income, but I'm trying not to skimp too much with foie gras and lobster on the menu:-) said...

help me...............
I am Hungry...................................

Soma said...

Lovely Elegant food. Wish I could have some... Beautifully presented & lovely pics!

Chitra said...

hi pig pig,First time in ur belated bday wishes:)OH WAT a romantic dinner u had:)Gorgeous pics:)never heard and tasted these recipes..want to try some:)Do visit my blog to get yummy indian especially south indian recipes:)

Vera said...

Happy Birthday to your fiancee! What a wonderful way to celebrate! Food looks exquisite.

Sam said...

Wow, looks like an amazing experience. The food is absolutely beautiful.

Wild Boar said...

Yeah I bought some perfume she wanted for her Valentine's gift. But now no more obligatory presents until Christmas haha!

Lorraine @NotQuiteNigella:
Are you kidding? Sydney has some great food too :-) Yeah when I saw the canapes, I had a good feeling for the rest of the meal.

I'm glad you also had a good experience at The Square. I quite liked the fact that it wasn't very big. I feel that the chef will have better control over the dishes. I'll try to remember The Capital for a future meal.

Believe you me, we had some weird looks from the other diners in the restaurant with Pig Pig snapping away with her d-SLR.

I understand your husband's feelings. Having a course where you get a huge dish but only one gnocchi and one langoustine tail with some sauce splattered on the side can be a bit depressing for a big eater. Still, undeniably tasty.

Marc @ NoRecipes:
Yeah we had some bad experiences before in restaurants on Valentine's since they can be quite rushed and harried sometimes so we usually dine in. But we went to the Square a week before Valentine's and the staff were all very professional.

pigpigscorner said...

Thanks everyone for your birthday wishes! We had a great time and the food was scrumptious!

bittersweetblog said...

Oh, those desserts- So elegant! So beautiful! Those are the sorts of things I wish I could do. Looks like an incredible meal altogether.

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