The swish Mayfair haunt comes with Michelin-high expectations. Here and there, it matches them, writes Christopher Jackson
With Mayfair prices through the roof, there’s now such a thing as a restaurant too well located. The Square is ridiculously central. Few live here any more, and most visitors have retreated by dinnertime from their shopping back to the semi-affordable parts of the city.
At least, when I went there they had. A pack of waiters circled a dining area, like butlers with nothing to ‘butle’. A Russian lady came in and toured the pictures as if she’d painted them herself, then took 20 admirers into a private anteroom: their whoops would populate the mostly empty restaurant throughout.
My guest and I opted for the tasting menu – the work now of new chef Clément Leroy, who formerly worked under Guy Savoy. After some bread and stubborn butter, we were presented with two tough boats of Cornish mackerel, shipwrecked in a pink sauce which had something to do with radish and chive.
I put my scepticism on hold. The next course turned out to be a splendid lurch towards excellence in the shape of the seared Orkney scallop marsala, hazelnut, and green coffee bean. The scallop was chopped into eight segments, and upturned like a flower. It did all that the earlier course had promised to do: it surprised and delighted.
The pan-fried foie gras, apple, mango and ginger was visually alarming – the sauce darkly pooled, as if the animal in question was still brooding on its death in liquid terms. And I wasn’t sold on the crisp red mullet, slumped on an ebony plate nursing some grudge about its neighbouring shiitake.
The pan-fried Yorkshire roe deer with Jerusalem artichoke, mushroom praline and bergamot cream was a fine dish, all succulence and juxtaposed earthiness. We were sent on our way with a sweet white potato confit and a chocolate grand cru.
We emerged into the night, wondering if the bright spots made up for the strange quiet of the place, and its occasional disappointments.
Christopher Jackson is Deputy Editor at Spear's