The Square is not achingly hip or in any way the latest thing, having opened in 1991; 21 years ago, it’s almost approaching institution status. With two Michelin stars and Head chef Phil Howard having been integral in both the career of star protégé, Brett Graham and the founding of his restaurant, which many consider to be London’s best, The Ledbury (Howard is a partner) . To say there’s an aura of excellence surrounding the place would be something of a frigging understatement.
I was due to be back in London for a day last week and I was fishing around for lunch recommendations, I always try and squeeze in a meal somewhere nice, wherever I can and The Square was mentioned once again. A chef friend of mine described it as the best meal he’d had recently and that was that. I didn’t need telling again. Booked!
Seeing as it was also my Dad’s birthday, and the old man is notoriously difficult to buy for, I thought I’d take him along, by way of a present. Strictly set lunch only, mind. What do you think I am, made of money?
So, striding down Bruton Street on a brisk, yet bright October lunchtime, the old man and I arrived at The Square, for a bit of posh grub. I don’t think we’ve ever been to a good restaurant together, at least not just the two of us, and I was looking forward to this immensely.
Not that this actually bothered me one bit, I’m well used to dining situations like this by now.
My Dad, just retired from a lifetime of working in London, constructing every kind of building imaginable, but mainly exclusive high-end, luxury type pads is a fount of arcane building industry knowledge. I realised he was out to shock me.
“Errrr a couple of thousand, maybe? What is it, polished concrete, marble?”
…Taking a moment to appraise the exact dimensions of the wall with a professional eye…a dramatic pause, a casual intake of breath before delivering the good news…
“That’d cost you at least eight grand”.
The conversation then proceeded with a surprisingly amusing armourcoat based anecdote from a building job he’d worked on years ago. I looked around the elegant dining room again and thought it unlikely that anyone else had ever had the same discussion here. Ever.