Restaurants & Bars

Birthday meal 1/2 - Report of lunch at Square, dinner at Terroirs

lecker | Nov 19, 201405:13 AM     5

Warning-this is rather long...
Saturday lunch, seating at 12:30.
We started off with glasses of Champagne in lovely thin glasses. As we sipped our drinks, we reviewed the menu and because neither their lunch nor tasting menu appealed to us, we opted for a la carte options.

I started with Cornish Mackerel with Loch Ryan Oysters, Pickled cucumbers, Fennel Pollen and Toasted English Muffin. The vivid green color of the dish reminded me of Spring, and the flavors conjured up memories of ceviche. My husband started with Saute of Sottish Langoustine Tails with Parmesan Gnocchi finished with an emulsion of Potato and Truffle. His starter was the Fall to my Spring, and I preferred his.

Crisp Berkshire Pork Jowl with House Made Sausage, Carrot and Swede, Granny Smith Apple and Vacherin Mont d’Or is what I chose for my main. The pork was served separately from the sausages and mash, which came in a little Staub enamel pot. I wasn’t crazy about the house-made sausage, but the rest of the dish was fine. The mash with Vacherin Mont d’Or was addictive.

I can’t remember too much of my husband’s fillet of cod with chestnut Spaetzle, Cauliflower, sprout tops and grey leg Chanterelles, but he must have enjoyed it; it disappeared quickly from his plate. Or else he was just very hungry.

We washed our meal down with an excellent bottle of 1973 Mersault Rougeots Domaine Potinet Ampeau.

None of their desserts appealed to me so I chose four cheeses, Morbid, Mothais Sur Feuille, Ossau Iraty and Roquefort from their cheese cart for my dessert and my husband dove into the Provence Quince Souffle with Darjeeling Tea and Bergamot Ice Cream. Again, his dessert quickly disappeared and he helped me with the cheeses. My favorite cheese was the Morbier, which I don't eat as often as the Ossau Iraty and the Roquefort. I need to add Morbier to my weekly cheese shopping list.

As we enjoyed the last courses, we chatted with our Sommelier about wines and Calvados and found out that he comes from Normandy. As my husband and I have been contemplating a quick trip over there this winter, the Sommelier gave us his recommendations for places that we should try when we're there. Now we're even more motivated to take a ferry over. By this point, we had moved onto several glasses of Calvados and, unfortunately, my note taking took a backseat to my drinking and I didn’t write down which Calvados we tried. Sorry.

What we liked about Square was the excellent service and presentation of the food. Although the food was delicious, I wasn’t ‘wow-ed’ by it. Would I make an effort to go back? Probably not, especially given that there are so many other restaurants I want to try in London. Comparing it to one-star Story, I prefer Story because I thought the food at Story was ‘wow' worthy. The other reason I did not care for Square is its large, cafeteria-style room and the non-inviting decor; I prefer the smaller, intimate size of Story to Square. Everything from Square's parquet flooring to the unappealing art on the wall made me think of an outdated cafeteria or senior-citizen’s center. Charm was definitely missing, for me. And the food was just okay, nothing special. However, the Square presented us with a bag of truffles as we left. We enjoyed them the next day and they were excellent. I wouldn’t mind going back there just for those truffles.

After our indulgent lunch, we walked around Mayfair and Soho and through the throngs of Leicester Square and Chinatown before we started getting a bit peckish again. Terroirs wine bar was not too far from where we were so we decided to check it out for a glass of wine. When we entered, the place was packed and it wasn't even dinner time yet. We usually prefer to sit at the bar and chat with the servers but there was no bar seat availabe, just a few small tables. The hostess offered us a small table, but said that it was reserved for 8:00. We answered that we would be gone by then. I immediately loved the cozy atmosphere of Terroirs and the hustle/bustle of the servers, diners, drinkers, etc. It definitely has a bistro-style atmosphere: a casual place that has a mix of interesting people. I was intrigued by a well-coiffed lady probably in her late 60's or early 70's sitting alone at the bar sipping a glass of wine, sandwiched in between two couples in their 30's or 40's. She looked like she had just popped in for a fortifying drink in between her appointments. The couples on either side were eating and drinking and in no rush to get back outside. All the food going by looked wonderful.

We started off with bubbles and duck rillettes. As we tucked into the duck rillettes, we reminisced about Le Bistrot du Sommelier in Singapore, our favorite place to dine when we were craving homemade duck rillettes, terrine and delicious French fare. We commented on how lucky we were to be back living in Europe again. After the duck rillettes, which I could probably eat every day, we moved onto Gilt Head Bream with Fennel and Shrimps, and Bone Marrow with pickled walnuts and parsley salad. I usually love Bone Marrow but, either I was still stuffed from lunch or the Bone Marrow was just missing something. We tried couple of their interesting wines by the glass and finished up with some Calvados. Terroirs is definitely more wine than food bar.

After a Michelin meal for lunch, everything will pale in comparison unless it's another M meal. However, there is just so much food coma I can experience in one day. I like having a luxe meal for lunch and finishing with something more down to earth for dinner. For that, Terroir was perfect for us for that evening. We got to try a new place and it was great value. I would definitely try Terroir again if I were in the area and looking for some wine, small bites of duck rillettes, and other some nibbles. It's also a good place to pop in if you are dining/drinking alone. You can sit at the L-shaped bar and not feel like you're out of place or taking up a large table by yourself. Square, on the other hand, is definitely not a place that I would feel comfortable dining by myself.


We also ate at Fera and Barrafina. I will post that in a separate post.

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