Two weeks ago, Jon and I celebrated our (seventh!) wedding anniversary at the Square. Because it was a weeknight and we were likely to order the tasting menu, Jon made our booking at the ungodly-early hour of 6:30 pm.
If there’s anything that makes me feel old, it’s dining out before 8 pm, and sure enough, we were the first ones to arrive – as in, first in the whole restaurant. I was mildly anxious that we’d spend the entire evening stared at by an army of waiters, but we shared a laugh about it with the staff, and from there on, the rest of the evening was a treat. If there’s any single thing that marked the Square as the sibling of the Ledbury (whose service I love), it was the restaurant’s attentive, friendly service. Despite the corporate-beige scheme of the dining room and the sea of jackets and ties among diners, the Square feels welcoming thanks to the professionalism of the Square’s staff.
Par for the course at a 2-Michelin-star resto, we started the evening with a series of amuses bouche. My faves were the foie gras mousse cornet and the squid ink crackers with taramasalata. When we ran out of squid ink crackers, we just dipped our oven-warm bread in the taramasalata’s salty-fishy goodness.
The tasting menu was a non-stop parade of beauty, textures and flavors. And the best part was the leisurely pace of our meal. For example, at Hibiscus, we stuffed down the tasting menu in just under two hours, and in contrast, at the Square, we savored our courses over four hours. Having all that time to enjoy your food makes a huge difference, and our time at the Square continues to confirm my belief that restaurants shouldn’t offer tasting menus to diners who show up after 8 pm unless they’re prepared to stay open until well after midnight.
The numerous photos above don’t capture all the food we sampled that evening, actually, and yet, seemingly in the blink of an eye, we were introduced to the Square’s cheese cart, which was a tour de force. Our server patiently and helpfully described all the choices to us and then served us a generous portion of six or seven of them.
I don’t have much of a sweet tooth, but the Square’s dessert courses could convert me. The rice pudding soufflé was textbook-perfect – airy but rich, sugary with a hint of tart.
Mignardises: a rainbow of jellied fruits and salted-caramel truffles, which were wrapped “to go” so that the next day, I could savor them on an emptier stomach and reflect back on a lovely dinner.
The Square’s tasting menu is £100 a person, so it wasn’t a cheap evening. But we had a magical time. For a restaurant that must see its share of anniversary celebrations, the Square managed to make ours feel like the only one that mattered. Our dinner at the Square stands head and shoulders above our relatively-recent meals at the Greenhouse and Hibiscus, both worthy competition.
The Square, 6-10 Bruton Street, London W1J 6PU, 0207 495 6519; closest tube station: Green Park