As a freshly minted Chef early in my career I had a penchant for the cinema. Enamoured with Quentin Tarantino's masterful work "Pulp Fiction" I attended the cinema many times just to enjoy the superb dialogue and characterisations. John Travolta's, Vincent Vega, really struck a chord. Sometimes boyish, nerdish and suburban, yet vile and slapstick, the portrayal of the philosophical hitman was quite mesmerising. With much anticipation I looked forward to the following years release of the adptly titled "Get Shorty". Once again featuring Mr Travolta playing the same suburban mobster type character, the loan shark, Chilli Palmer. Expectation being the mother of disappointment, the film failed to entice, with the exception of the wardrobe worn by Chilli Palmer. To my folly, I spent a months pay on similar tailoring believing that I was as hip and cool as the character that had watched on the big screen. Sadly, rather than looking as I thought I did, I was in fact a jester-ish version of a twenty year old boy trying to dress like a fifty year old a mobster. What I hadn't realised, at my tender age, is that wearing clothes is more than just putting them on, it is an attitude and a mindset. What I didn't posess was confidence, which is the product of experience. You can't fake it and it can't be hidden. It comes though with every well considered word, every gesture, and in the quite and attention grabbing subtley of movement and phrase. That is The Square, experience and confidence resulting in cuisine displaying impeccable technique, superb flavours, excellent service and attention to detail.
We certainly presented as an antipodean motley crew as we entered for a Monday lunch booking in the Bruton Street dining room. We began our meal with a cornucopia of complimentary starters. Crunchy and intense Foie Gras Cone, salty eel and squid ink crackers and a crumbed and crunchy cube of pigs head with apple puree. Good start, all the aperitif boxes ticked. Acidic, creamy, crunchy and salty, served with a delicate, dryish yet zingy glass of Champagne, NV Chartogne-Taillet Brut Cuvee Sainte-Anne from the village of Merfy, Reims, France. (£13)
Next came a pre starter of "Tartare of milk fed veal with burratina, white peach, artichoke and fennel pollen" A dish that has altered my perspective on the meat and fruit combination. The perfection of each ingredient was on show, with the delicate acidity of the peach contrasting the creaminess of the cheese and the subtleties and gentle meatiness of the veal. The fennel pollen added a purfumed aniseed note that broke it all up and then brought it back together.
From the staggering good value lunch menu (£35/2 course, £40/3course) my entree of "Trombetta Courgette and flowers, smoked ricotta and Iberian ham" was placed before me. Once again I was impressed at the expert technique employed on each individual ingredient, but more so that the ingredients are brought together into such a delicate and subtle experience on the palate. Sweet, smokey, crunchy, hot, cold, firm and creamy all in one dish. Accompanying this, and with a complete disregard once again for wine and food matching, I moved on to the excellent 2009 Brunello di Montalcino, Mastroianni, Tuscany (£30 175ml). One of the best vintages from this producer, the 2009, made from 100% sangiovese, was ruby red, complex and yet inviting and utterly moorish. In a strange way matching the food, which exhibited the same moorish qualities.
To finish the savoury , once again from the special lunch menu, was a dish of Fillet of Cornish Cod, hand rolled farfalle, cepes and monks beard. The fish was excellently caramelised and perfectly cooked being just a touch past translucent. The pasta was firm and aldente whilst the mushrooms gave a real meatiness. Each component was superbly cooked, a dish where the sum of the parts added up to an excellent whole. Matching this, my third wine, yet another red, was a 2006 Chambolle Musigny, Domaine Drouhin-Laroze, Burgundy, France (£27 175ml). This was my favourite wine of the day, albeit probably due to my Pinot Noir addiction. This wine was deep in flavour had a smooth mouthfeel, finishing with delicate acidity and flavour notes. A surprising good match to the meaty notes in the cod.
To finish a modern version of a traditional English dessert a Mirabelle Fool. Sweet and tart, crunchy and creamy all at once. A double short black with petit fours and we were done, back out into the coolish and somewhat damp London afternoon.
This was my second meal to the Square and on reflection I feel the experience was somewhat better than last. As I sat at our table in the Zen like calm of the dining room, my eye was drawn to the loan diner sitting at the table next to us. The longer I sat and watched I realised that the Square restaurant was a lot like this lone diner, impeccably dressed, well mannered but more importantly filled with a type of mature confidence that only come with time and application. Quite simply, classic French technique excuted with the best ingredients, served on the best tableware by excellent floor staff in an immaculate dining room. Superb.