The Square is definitely one of my favourite places in London for ticking almost all of the boxes. Whether for the (absolutely bargain value) lunch menu, or for a more leisurely dinner, The Square is the best. So it was with great pleasure (having found out that Pied a Terre is closed on Sundays) that I rang up and reserved a table for two for Sunday.
Sunday evening eating in London’s great restaurants is kind of hit-and-miss. Your maitre d’ is usually at home watching television. The A-Team of servers has taken an easy jet flight to Nice. And who knows what is going on in the kitchen. Last week’s Angela Hartnett service debacle was a clear sign of this.
Despite The Square’s Jacques Carlino not being on the floor on Sunday night, this team has been trained to perfection. And this meant coping, and coping well, with the demands put upon them, as you shall soon read.
Having arrived at The Square, we settled in the little reception/bar area for a glass of champagne and a gin and tonic. While the gin selection is limited, full marks for the champagne list, particularly, as The Square carries Jacquesson which is always a pleasure. A quick review of the menu settled it fairly quickly for both of us, having decided on the “Truffle and Seasonal Mushroom” menu of 8 or 9 courses.
I won’t bore you with the blow-by-blow of the truffle and mushroom event, but it started with a veloute of cepes with langoustine, continued on to a scallop and truffle gnocchi, passed through a poached egg with white truffles, included a fish course with turbot and truffles, and through to a tourneados of venison and bone marrow with half a roasted cepe. And then the obligatory cheese course (the muenster was ‘tres coulant’ yesterday), followed by a poached pear with a caramel truffle infusion.
During all of this, the service was exceptional, with a sommelier who really knew her stuff despite being put through her paces by my colleague – “why do you recommend the bordeaux instead of the burgundy with the venison? Why pauillac and not pomerol? Are there any good Australian or South American wines…” it became more existential as it went on.
And the staff were at one point dispatched by my colleague to the kitchen to ask “what sort of chicken did this egg come from?” I’m not sure they were enjoying this as much as he was, but, well, they managed to keep up and I say they deserve serious congratulations. In addition, there were his repeated requests for new napkins and clean glasses and throughout it all they remained good humoured. Well done to the staff at the Square.
So, how does it all stack up?
Dinner at the Square for 2: Truffle and Mushroom tasting menu: £90 each, plus lots and lots of wine, including the 1998 Ch. Lagrage (a Pomerol) which was stunning.
Food: 9.5 out of 10 – Almost perfection (and perfection is hard to attain)
Service: 9 out of 10 – I can’t say enough how well the staff at The Square have been trained. I have full confidence of being able to go to The Square with clients and colleagues and not be made to look bad by inadequate service. No, The Square has it covered.
Atmosphere: 7.5 out of 10 – This is always where The Square falls down – I know it, and so do you. So, that’s why when you book you ask for a table near the window so that you can look out towards Bruton street rather than in towards nothing.
Sexy Factor: 8 out of 10 – You can usually spot some sexy people at The Square (my favourite co-diner was Jean Reno, but that was last time)
Return?: Yes, definitely. The Square is one of my favourites and standards. It is the “you-cannot-go-wrong” restuarant of London.Advertisements