The Square is one of the most special restaurants I have had the privilege of visiting. The food is exquisitely executed and beautifully presented and the restaurant is a light and lovely place to dine. Phil Howard founded this renowned establishment in 1991 and it continues to thrill regular and first-time customers. After 21 years of culinary brilliance and critical success, no-one can dispute that this is an eatery worthy of its two star accolade. With the publication of his first book The Square, Phil Howard continues to inspire, now you can have a go at recreating his masterpieces in your own home.
The a la carte menu is full of seasonal British ingredients, and it is a real treat selecting from such an extensive selection. I chose the intriguing sounding Hand Rolled Macaroni with Sticky Chicken Wings, new season’s Mousserons, Cauliflower and Vacherin. My friend ordered the Saute of Scottish Langoustine Tails with Parmesan Gnocchi and an Emulsion of Potato and Truffle, this is the dish Phil told me was his current favourite, so I was delighted to try it. It was as exceptional as expected, subtle and delicious with the freshest plump langoustine. Our food was enhanced by perfectly matched wine.
Our main courses were so spectacular they provoked quite a reaction from the neighbouring table, an enthusiastic couple who desperately enquired about which dishes we had chosen; tourists in London I asked them how they had discovered the Square – apparently the concierge at their hotel had recommended it as a London foodie must. I couldn’t resist trying the Breast of Grouse with Turnip and Celery, Pearl Barley, Pancetta and Blackberries: a gamey delicacy only found on menus for a very short period each year. My guest chose Roast Loin of Pata Negra Pork with Baked Quince, Lardo Wrapped Prunes, Croquettes and Sherry. I was surprised by the unusually large portions, perhaps because I usually opt for the lighter lunch menu. Both dishes were prepared immaculately with genius flavour pairings and careful consideration of the meat’s qualities.
We didn’t rush our meal, I wanted to savour every moment… our cheese and dessert courses were spent alone in the restaurant as the final guests meandered merrily out. The puddings at The Square are blissfully simple but effective… Plum Souffle with Almond Ice-cream and the famous Chocolate Bar, both indulgent and very tasty which is all I desire from a dessert.
The cookbook is a magnificent bible from a master of flavour and simplicity. It proves that Michelin star cooking is achievable at home. This is the first book of two, the Savoury edition before the Sweet. It is clear that Phil has poured his passion and expertise into every page of this epic publication with detailed analysis of the recipes, useful tips and stunning photographs. This glorious book is a classic and deserves a place on every kitchen shelf.
Speaking to Phil about his journey with The Square restaurant, it was immediately very clear to me why this restaurant has enjoyed continuous success in a city which has changed its culinary taste so dramatically over the last 20 years. Phil admitted it is sometimes scary to stand still while everyone around you is moving on with such speed. But if anything, this book cements the belief that the best British food doesn’t have to involve scientific experiments and molecular concepts to excite – the best food is still, and will always be created from a love of good ingredients, inventive combinations and an ambition to create food that tastes sublime.
To complement the new book Phil stars in a newly launched, specially commissioned six part digital mini series and podcast. Entitled “Kitchen Foundation”, the films feature Phil demonstrating how to establish the foundations of a successful kitchen. Phil’s cookbook represents the culmination of more than twenty years spent at the helm of one of the UK’s finest 2 Michelin Star restaurants.
See all the films here: http://www.squarerestaurant.com/Cookbook/Videos.aspx