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Philip Howard gained immense acclaim (including two Michelin stars) during his 25 years at The Square, but now that stellar establishment has been sold, he’s embarking on this propitious new venture with restaurateur Rebecca Mascarenhas. Elystan Street aims to forge a path in the new world of loosened-up luxury. The old Tom Aikens site is virtually unrecognisable as a light-filled space where sunshine floods through huge windows by day, and flattering lighting bathes diners by night. Different menus are offered at lunch and dinner: three courses for £42.50 in the daytime and some stiffly priced à la carte dishes at night. We’ve tried both, and while lunch was rather subdued, evenings buzz to full houses of appreciative diners. From the lunch menu, smoked mackerel velouté with Porthilly oysters, leek hearts and smoked eel toast met with coos of approval for the deep flavours elicited from every ingredient. But if you’re after unapologetic richness, come for dinner and order breast of duck for its sweetly sticky side order of caramelised onion and endive tart. Star billing however must go to langoustine ravioli: a single fat parcel of pasta in which the sweetness of the langoustine is amplified by a barbecue sauce. Howard has said Elystan Street will be his last hurrah. We take our hats off to a chef who, at 50, is embarking on a promising new chapter, and give Howard’s last hurrah three cheers – along with our BMW award for the best new restaurant of the past six months.
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