VIP Treatment at The Square, Mayfair

Dining with the Husband, Michelin Star Restaurant, Two Michelin Star

My husband and I had the luxury of going out for dinner.  Our kids were staying at their grandparents for two nights over the half term so we decided to take full advantage of this and go to dinner after work.

My husband chose the two Michelin star restaurant The Square, Mayfair.  My husband and I are fans of the TV programme Great British Menu, it’s a cookery show in which Britain’s most incredible chefs compete against each other to cook in a themed banquet.  We had watched Phil Howard, chef and co owner of The Square, go from being a contestant to a judge.  So we were already fans of the Chef, and wanted to taste his food.
We arrived at The Square and were shown to our table.   The restaurant was far smaller than it looked from the outside and from what I had imagined.

We chose champagne as an apéritif and enjoyed some canapés.   There was foie gras in a cone, pork cheek and some (squid ink?) crackers.  I really need to start listening when they explain what’s been put on the table, but I’m so desperate to eat it!

IMG_4103
All the canapés were delicious but the pork cheek was an absolute show stopper! Wow! A tiny little morsel packed so much punch.  Amazing flavour.  The standard of canapés I’ve eaten lately is so high, it’s amazing how delicious just one purposely made mouthful of food can taste.  Hooray for canapés!

IMG_4104
So while sipping and nibbling and reading through the menus we decided to go for the tasting menu.  To be honest we always go for the tasting menus, because they showcase the best of what the restaurants have to offer.  We went for the paired wines too, we don’t know a great deal about wine, or pretend to, but an enjoyable part of our dining experience is engaging with the sommelier.  We like hearing the descriptions of where the wine has come from and what smells and tastes the sommelier suggests.

When asked if we were happy with the menu I expressed my dislike for Mackerel, unfortunately for me this was one of the first courses.  I cheekily suggested crab lasagne as a substitution.  Well if you don’t ask you don’t get!  Our server said he’d speak with the kitchen and see what he could do.

After a few moments we were given individual menus, to remind us of our dishes.  I took a sneak peak and to my delight my wish was their command, the makeral had disappeared and the crab lasagne had been added to my menu!

Our first courses arrived, for me smoked beetroot, and for my husband mackerel.  The sommelier brought out two separate wines.  As I had a different course in a different order to my husband this had been reflected in the wine pairings.

What a great start, cheese, pear and beetroot are always a winning combination I loved the smokiness too.

IMG_4105Salad of smoked white beetroot and salsify with organic curd, hazelnut praline, white balsamic and pear 

My next course for me was a signature dish of Dorset crab lasagne, my husband had the smoked beetroot.

IMG_4110Lasagne of Dorset crab with a cappuccino of shellfish and champagne foam

Oh My Goodness, this dish was sooooooo good!  The crab was layered in a tiny lasagne and foamy gorgeousness was poured over the top.  Although he would never admit it there was serious food envy going on.

My husband and I were both in receipt of the same dishes now and next up were langoustine tails.
One of my favourite foods is langoustine.  This dish was incredible as anticipated.  I loved the tiny little deep fried shallot rings delicately balanced on top. The langoustines were so plump and juicy and a lovely shaving of truffle just made it perfection.

IMG_4114Sauté of Scottish Langoustine tails with parmesan gnocchi and an emulsion of potato and truffle

The next course was chicken wings, and no they were absolutely not how I had envisaged.  The bone was removed and it had been stuffed and served on top of pasta.  I eat a lot of dry pasta at home, it’s very quick and easy when you have a family, so eating fresh pasta is a dream.  Another delicious dish, such a fantastic and diverse menu so far.

IMG_4118Stuffed and glazed black foot chicken wings with egg yolk Campanelle, chanterelles and cauliflower

Now I don’t usually get excited over a fish dish but this was beautiful perfectly flaky soft cod, I loved all the components and presentation.

IMG_4121Roast Cornish cod with celeriac milk, Savoy cabbage, salsify and roasting juices

Onto the main event, 55 day aged rare breed pork.  It was served pink!  I know some people would be alarmed by the colour.  It was perfectly fine.  I was taking about it when my husband had left the table and it was explained that some breeds of pork, the higher quality ones, are fine to eat pink as the pigs are feed on a special diets which make a huge difference to the meat.  I was never concerned, I trust the restaurant and will always eat the meat the way the chef recommends anyway.  It was really tender, the tea smoked sausage was lovely and the pork crackling was fantastic, great crunch.  Fabulous dish and a first for me eating pink pork, I didn’t hesitate for a second.

IMG_4127Roast 55 day aged rare breed pork with creamed potato, Tokyo turnips, tea smoked sausage, apple, earl grey and prune

As our plates were cleared we were offered a tour of the kitchen.  My husband and I are very passionate and love to engage with the staff, so we accepted.  Unfortunately Phil Howard was not in the kitchen that night, its amazing how small restaurant kitchens are and how cool and calm the staff appear.  We were then shown the wine cellar which was also really small but very well organised.  Truly fascinating!

When we arrived back to our table our cheese course was ready and waiting.  I like it when a actual cheese course is created, and it was quite simply a  piece of cheese and some chutney.  There was a cheese trolley, but my husband and I tend to get a bit greedy so we stuck to the menu.

This was served with port, I find this drink very strong, it’s not a drink I enjoy.  So the sommelier adjusted my wine pairings.  He made his own judgement and I really appreciated this.

IMG_4129Winter Beaufort with pickled walnut and honeycomb

The first of the desserts was a rhubarb and vanilla fool served with a tiny little warm doughnut on the side, which reminded me of being at the seaside and eating a bag of hot sugared doughnuts, obviously this one was a lot less greasy!

IMG_4132Yorkshire rhubarb and vanilla fool

Time for the ultimate dessert, souffle.  I do love a souffle and you have to admire restaurants who are confident enough to have these on their menu.  The chef had nailed the souffle, text book perfection.  Light and airy with a great crunch from the salted toffee.

IMG_4135Medjool date soufflé with salustiana orange ice cream and salted toffee 

We had our coffees and petit fours and thanked all the staff for their fantastic welcoming service, we had been made to feel like VIPs with such incredibly attentive service and food to match.

The Square Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Advertisements

Alyn Williams at The Westbury

Dining with the Husband, Michelin Star Restaurant, One Michelin Star

This was quite a spontaneous lunch, we had a G&T experience arranged in The Westbury’s Polo bar but we thought whilst were at The Westbury hotel we may as well take the opportunity to eat at their Michelin star restaurant Alyn Williams at The Westbury.

We had been privileged enough to actually meet Executive Chef Alyn Willams and have him cook for us at an exclusive event called Dinner in the sky, I have previously written about this in my diary. I was excited to try his food with my feet firmly on the dining room floor without the wind battling my hair.

The restaurant was beautiful. Very elegant and classic, it reminded me very much of Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester. Next to our table there was a private dining area, either side of the entrance doors were temperature controlled cabinets displaying wines. I found this a really attractive feature, what a great way to show the wines they have to offer.

IMG_2208

IMG_2210

As we knew we’d be drinking gin and tonics after lunch we asked if it was possible to share a wine pairing with our tasting menu. Although we felt a little embarrassed with our request it was not a problem. I had even substituted some of the dishes with the vegetation menu and the wine was still paired accordingly, what excellent service.

Shortly after we were seated we were presented little cheese profiteroles, Gougères. These are one of my favourites, so addictive, they definitely do the trick of leaving your mouth wanting more.

IMG_2212

First course was langoustine which was absolutely delicious, the langoustine was so succulent and the flavours worked so well. I sometimes find lemongrass a little over powering but these flavours were perfectly balanced. Gorgeous dish. I really liked the presentation too.

IMG_2213

Langoustine/lemongrass/chilli/coconut/cucumber

Next course was mackerel. This is a food I don’t think I could ever learn to love. So I substituted for the gnocchi from the vegetation tasting menu. Gnocchi is not something I’ve ordered before, I have made it at home but it was nothing like this. It was awesome, Alyn’s not mine. So crispy and fluffy, my four year old son would have adored these! Now I know what to aim for if I attempt to make gnocchi again.

IMG_2215

Gnocchi/heritage carrots/wild herbs/walnuts

IMG_2217

Mackerel/miso glaze/beach vegetables/truffle

Next course was Foie gras semi fredo. A signature dish. Semi fredo is Italian for half frozen and is typically a dessert. I was surprised by the temperature but as soon as it started to melt in my mouth I completely understood why it was half frozen. Foie gras has a creamy texture, so to add the melting element was very clever. This dish was also served with a really sweet dessert style wine which was unanticipated but made sense and really did compliment the dish.

IMG_2218

Foie gras semi fredo/sand carrot/liquorice

I diverted onto the veggie menu for the next course. I had dined in the sky with Chef Alyn Williams a few weeks prior and had a dish that I thought read quite similar so didn’t want to eat the same dish again. It was actually nothing like I ate before. I was still happy with my choice though. Its great that you can pick and choose from the different menus, another sign of great service.

IMG_2219

Belota Iberica/pickled damsons/parsley mousse/cob nuts

IMG_2221

Jerusalem artichoke royale/kohl rabi/orange/parmesan/truffle.

My husband’s plate of food was very pretty and colourful and not actually how I imagined. My dish was a fluffy, foamy custard and covered in grated truffle. It was lovely and light and the orange was very refreshing.

Ready for the mains, my husband went for the lamb and I went for the beef. Hubby’s lamb was incredible, well the tiny nibble I actually got to try! He devoured it!

IMG_2222

Welsh lamb/herb crust/onion/kale

IMG_2223

IMG_2224

Ruby Red Devon beef sirloin/braised cheek/turnip/croutons

My beef was also served with a side of mashed potato. Absolute perfection! The braised cheek was beautiful and I loved the croutons. This was a flawless course and the reason we avoid cooking beef and lamb at home as we can never do it justice. This is the standard of food you expect to receive when dining in Michelin star restaurants and that’s exactly why I have a tendency to choose Michelin star restaurants over restaurants without, guaranteed quality.

IMG_2227

Aerated white chocolate/candied fennel/lime

IMG_2226

Berries/cheesecake/granola

Desserts were really lovely. Very simple but they were fresh and light and were a great finish to a wonderful tasting menu.

We declined coffees but were presented petit fours in a little cardboard box, which we enjoyed the next day when I discovered them in my handbag. Don’t you just love it when that happens! 😉

This is a beautiful restaurant and service is fantastic.

We went through to the hotels Polo Bar. We sat up at the bar and worked our way through the entire Tanqueray No Ten Botanical Brew Experience menu. (Six varieties) The bar tender was great. He talked us through the exciting range of infusions and pairings, as he mixed them. We felt very comfortable in his company and were sharing lots of laughs. I must admit I was quite drunk after five glasses of wine and three Gin and tonics. We finished our drinks thanked the bartender for his hospitality and then we stumbled into a taxi.

IMG_2663

IMG_2664

IMG_2665

Blurry pictures taken at the Polo Bar on Husbands phone, I think the blur is due to him being drunk hehe!

Alyn Williams - The Westbury Hotel Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato