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Restaurants & Bars

The Square, Mayfair, London

limster | Aug 18, 201001:32 PM     9

Bunch of things tasted at my table:

A savoury foie gras mousse in a very thin and crisp cone. Crunchy very slightly nutty black rice crackers contrast in colour, taste and texture with a very smooth taramasalata. A crisp, medium bodied (and very very faintly greasy) batter encases tiny bit of sweet crustacean (prawns?) like a very crispy shell. A gougere, coloured black with squid ink (but not much of the marine flavour), fresh and given to a fine dry crumb, covered with curls of dry hard cheese.

Variegated textures with familiar flavour combinations: a dry and slightly fluffy powdered lemon oil, a foam of oilve oil and artichoke (mostly background flavour next to the rest of the ingredients), a dense and slightly wobbly and concentrated red pepper jelly, soft creamy mozzarella, a very fruity tomato (intensified by a bit of drying). Comes together cleanly and pleasantly.

My favourite dish -- a disc with layers of sweet crab, perfect lasagne with just the right thickness and bite the punctuate the soft crab, a foam of champagne (mostly air), beneath a well concentrated broth of the shell, savoury sweet and maybe the finest shadow of heat, rounded off with a tangy creamy flavour. Impeccable balance, deep but not excessive flavour, intricate texturing.

The langoustine tail was nice, but a notch beneath perfect, firm but without the rapid ripping texture of the most delicately cooked examples, and slightly less sweet than some. But the gnocchi beneath it was fantastic, perfectly balancing softness and a moist density, with just the right amount of crisp, browned on its surface and exuding an even nutty flavour of cheese and potato - or perhaps the potato flavour coming from the smooth potato and summer truffle (or was it mushroom?) emulsion. Smoothness is universal quality of many of their sauces, and even more technically impressive to have done so with a potato base. Topped with a tiny golden mushroom (girolle?) and beautiful rings of crispy shallots (puffed perfectly, excellent deep frying) aromatic if very so slightly too powerful in its flavour against the langoustine.

I liked the very smooth fruit sauces and flavours a lot -- a bright bracing citrus (quite a bit of lime I think, maybe something like yuzu too, not sure?); nicely structured blackberry with good balance of sweet and sour; and apple as well, but perhaps the flavour was mostly emanating from the fine sliver of apple tart, with elegantly and evenly layered paper-thin slices of apple. All that to counter the richness of a generous piece of foie gras, with moderate savoury smokiness, oozing an unctuous oil, a pool that surrounded it.

Exemplary turbot, moist, flavoursome, and gorgeous crisped on the surface. A pleasant broth beneath, with white coco beans (not cacao, I don't think), threads of emerald samphire, and golden girolles.

An excellent slab of lamb, encrusted with finely minced parsley, set against tomatoes slightly dried and wrinkled in with a mellow intense fruitiness, light green olives, pan juices, a soft but firm tangy sheep's curd gnocchi, and a fine savoury and slightly sweet garlic sauce -- thick and creamy. Also one of the best pieces of artichoke I've had in a long while, just magnificent in the clarity of its sustained light to medium bodied flavour, an adagio from a vegetable that is cooked just right, browned properly while retaining its core flavour.

A semi-soft, nutty chevrotin, a cheese of medium pungency, the tanginess mostly cut by the accompaniments -- a dense fruit jelly, a chutney with toasted pumpkin seeds, the sweet core of a fig (gracefully skinned), and reinforced by a chevrotin cream to replay the flavour in a different texture.

Textbook creme brulee -- creamy and stiff, good caramelised surface -- with perfect cherries, topped with a small quenelle of (cherry ripple?) ice cream.

A puffy and light ripple souffle, intense berry flavours and perhaps a touch too sweet for my taste, even with the tangy yogurt ice cream. But the texture of the souffle was excellent, the sides coated at intervals with a red berry-based (I assume) sauce to give it red and white stripes as it rose.

Pleasant mignardises, mostly candied fruit on sticks, the pineapple probably the most notable in flavour complexity. Not bad chocolate truffles with salted caramel, but not necessarily the best of its kind.

A good Vouvrey by the glass, firm backbone, a good dry-sweet balance, very food friendly in its acidity. A taste of the glass of Rhone was pretty good -- leathery and earthy at the beginning, with a brief olivey middle, and transitioning quickly to a rather soft and light finish; went nicely with the lamb.

On the whole a very pleasant meal with lots of finery and attention to details, carefully prepared food with finessed technique and excellent ingredients. Excellent waitstaff. Not life-changing by any means, but there were high points in nearly every or every other dish. I've had meals that I enjoyed more at this price (>£100/person) but it's good for what it is, and perhaps a matter of individual taste at this level.

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