There’s a sense of confidence, calm and absolute professionalism about this reboot of The Square with its spacious layout and extraordinary collection of modern art. Tables are well-spaced (no earwigging here), and every detail chimes with the restaurant’s reputation – beautiful glassware and cutlery, fragile handmade crockery, clever lighting, comfortable chairs.
With chef Clément Leroy at the helm, there’s no denying that the cooking is more than a match for the upper-crust setting. Using classic techniques and the finest ingredients, dinner starts with a culinary tour around Britain – from a tiny tartlet of Cornish haddock to the lightest tuile wrapped around Scottish shellfish. Just go easy on the moreish cheese bread with goat’s butter if you’re planning to sample the full works.
Leroy’s repertoire is sophisticated and complex – as in Lincolnshire eel served with smoked sabayon, sweet onion purée, sweet apple jelly and caviar or a huge scallop, seared and partnered by fried hazelnuts, aubergine and buckwheat, just two starters from an ever-changing line-up.
Moving on, there might be crispy sizzled red mullet accompanied by a deep-flavoured bisque or an awesomely rich dish of sweetbreads atop a bed of raw black squid. After that, a dessert of sweet potato, grapefruit and St John’s Wood honey not only appears to defy the laws of physics, but also tastes so much better than it sounds.
Prices are painful, although budget-conscious diners can get a lunchtime sampler for under £40 for three courses. Likewise, the monumental wine list is unerringly expensive, although its Franco-Italian selections are more than a match for the food. While some reckon The Square is “all-round perfection”, when all’s said and done, we can’t help feeling it’s also a bit dreary.