Marlon Abela's Michelin-starred restaurant reopens following a food and decor makeover
To keep pace with London’s flourishing restaurant scene, The Square on Bruton Street, owned by the Marlon Abela Restaurant Group, underwent a renovation during the summer. London-based interior design company Virgile + Partners, which also worked on the group’s sister venues Morton’s and The Greenhouse, removed the somewhat dated shades of beige and brown that used to cover the chairs and walls and replaced them with a modern palette of cold grey.
Inspired by neighbouring art galleries, the stark, blank walls display abstract paintings, and a ghostly sculpture of three figures acts as the centrepiece in the restaurant. While the new design doesn’t create the most comforting of atmospheres for an evening meal, it is the food I am here for, not the decor, and I am quite blown away by it.
My reaction is unsurprising, really, considering that the modern French cuisine is Michelin-starred. My guest and I start proceedings with champagne served in paper-thin flutes, followed by four courses à la carte (a tasting menu is also available). I start with hand-picked Devon crab accompanied by minuscule beetroot cubes and dark crab meat ice cream, while my companion opts for artichoke and quail egg with a powerful parmesan ice cream.
While we both sit in silence, savouring every last morsel of the small, fragile arrangements, we sneak a peek at the other diners. There’s one particularly glamorous couple who take a few bites of some dishes and send them back. “How could they possibly send them back?” I think in disbelief. Each forkful is an explosion of flavours, going off like a perfectly balanced firework on the tongue.
The new chef here, Clément Leroy, helped earn the Parisian restaurant Guy Savoy its third Michelin star, and his light flavours and complex textures are sure to do the same here. The next serving of Orkney scallop dissolves in my mouth, while the veal sweetbread has an understated but powerful taste. Medium-rare slices of roe deer and the lamb saddle with razor clams are just as impressive, and yet the couple across the room still take only a few mouthfuls. When dessert arrives, the gentleman has actually waltzed into the kitchen to have a look for himself.
By this point I am too distracted to care. Leroy’s wife, chef Aya Tamura, creates the puddings, and they are equally complex creations. The sweet white potato confit has a malleable, grainy texture that is balanced with sharp notes of grapefruit. But it is the ‘Trinket Box’ that has us both intrigued. A shell of charcoal meringue appears on a pristine white plate; crack it open and underneath is a dessert made of quince and beer.
We finish with coffee and petits fours from a trolley that is rolled past the tables. As I pick a pistachio chocolate, the gentleman has reappeared from the kitchen and exits the restaurant waving to guests. Does this man think he owns the place? “Well, actually,” replies a waiter to my huffy enquiry, “he does. That was Mr Marlon Abela.”