I am a sucker for a well-written menu. And boy does Philip Howard know how to write them. His dish descriptions are neither long nor short, neither exhaustive nor aloof; the reader is given a fair hint of what will happen on the plate, whilst allowing enough flexibility for a surprise or two. Both sempiternal and seasonal signature items, whose quality can always be relied upon, litter every course; not to mention the ever-present ‘Fish of the Day’ that adds a mizzle of mystery into the equation. As you may be able to tell, I am not one to suffer from menu ennui; I can read (and talk/write about) good ones all day. The corollary to this, of course, is that I cannot stand cartes that promise so much, but deliver so little.
The Square, after my August bank holiday dinner with W, came very close to falling into this contemptible category. There were mitigating circumstances, however, which I have, from that day forward, clung to in heartfelt hope that that meal was a one-off, freak misfire. As it was a holiday, Chef Howard and sous-chef, Robert Westin, were both, unsurprising, on holiday themselves and on this fact I blame everything that went wrong that day.
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