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The Square: Savoury

The Square: Savoury

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The Square: Savoury

5/5 (1 valutazione)
959 pagine
9 ore
Oct 12, 2017


There are some books we publish which, from the outset, you know are going to be special. This was true of this exciting book from Philip Howard: a collection of recipes from his restaurant, The Square. We knew we wouldn't be able do the recipes justice in one volume, so it became two - a first volume, Savoury, followed by Sweet. We knew we couldn't limit it to the conventional two pages per recipe and food photo, so they each became either 4 or 6 pages. We knew we couldn't illustrate anything less than every one of those recipes, so one of the world's finest food photographers, Jean Cazals, did just that. And yet these measures are only a small part of why this book is so special. It is special because it represents a collection of recipes from 21 years of one of the country's finest and most consistently fine restaurants. Special because the chef who has been at the helm of that restaurant for all of those years is recognised as one of the very best of his generation. But most of all, it is special because that chef has that rare ability to translate a genius in the restaurant kitchen into the words of a book. This was evident from the day we received the first written recipe, and, with it, Phil's fiercely intelligent vision for how the book - and every recipe within it - should be structured. It is also manifest in the dozen or so essays that weave throughout, that show a profound consideration and passion for every aspect of his craft and industry. This is a landmark publication and has become a must-have book for every chef and for every serious foodie. It can't fail to impress and inspire anyone with a desire for cooking and a thirst for food knowledge. It is nothing less than an incredible achievement and a book of truly unbounded culinary ambition.
Oct 12, 2017

Informazioni sull'autore

Philip Howard has been chef and co-owner of The Square since its opening in 1991. Whilst the style of his cooking has evolved and progressed, receiving many awards and accolades along the way, the fundamental backbone of his dishes remains unchanged. Impeccable seasonal ingredients are accurately cooked and brought together on the plate in a harmonious, elegant, yet satisfying manner. He has held two Michelin stars since 1998.

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The Square - Philip Howard






Puff Pastry


Walnut and Raisin Bread


Cep Bavarois, Roast Chicken Jelly, Thyme Foam and Onion Tart

Foie Gras Bavarois, Raisin Purée, Fruit Bread Croûtons and Parmesan Foam

Fennel Bavarois, Red Mullet Jelly, Sardine Foam and Anchovy Straws

Pea Bavarois, Mint Jelly, Jersey Royal Foam and Parmesan Feuilleté


Roast Chicken Consomme with Stuffed Wings, Morels and Foie Gras

Chilled Tomato Consomme En Gelee with Gazpacho Vinaigrette, Guacamole and Soured Cream Ice Cream

Veloute of Celeriac and Pear with Smoked Partridge and Scotch Eggs

Oxtail Consomme with Warm Winter Canapes

Veloute of Asparagus with Jersey Royals and Flaked Wild Salmon

Summer Minestrone with Pesto-Dressed Cod Flakes, Octopus and Salt and Pepper Squid

Veloute of Oysters with Smoked Eel, Salt Cod, Lemon Oil and Caviar

Field Mushroom Veloute with Truffle Chantilly, Soft-Boiled Egg and a Wild Mushroom Cone


Saddle of Rabbit with Spring Vegetables, Pea Shoots and Tarragon

Salad of Roast Guinea Fowl, Morels, White Asparagus and Pea Shoots with Spring White Truffle and Parmesan

Salad Niçoise with Cornish Mackerel and Gull’s Eggs

Roulade of Octopus with a Citrus Vinaigrette, Mussel and Salt Cod Beignets and Whitebait

Warm Salad of Wild Duck and Caramelised Vegetables with Port-Dressed Currants, Elderberries and Foie Gras

Salad of Skate, Swiss Chard, Salsify and Sprouting Broccoli with Clam Beignets and a Red Wine, Anchovy and Garlic Dressing

Warm Salad of Smoked Haddock with a Soft Poached Egg, Sea Kale and a Light Curry Cream

Salad of Marinated Beetroot and Baked Root Vegetables with Balsamic Cream and Eiswein Vinegar

Salad of Spring Vegetables with Watercress Mousse, Goat’s Milk Puree, Hazelnut and Truffle


Terrine of Chicken, Foie Gras and Girolles with a Liver Cream and Grilled Leeks

Terrine of Caramelised Vegetables and Pig’s Trotter with Pata Negra, Pickled Beetroot and Dandelion

Ballotine of Salt-Cured Foie Gras with Golden Raisin Puree and Camomile, Apricot and Sauternes Jelly

Terrine of Venison, Mallard, Grouse and Prunes with Green Peppercorns and Spiced Pear and Elderberry Chutney

Tartare of Venison with Pickled Mushrooms, Chestnut, Celeriac and Radish

Cured Fillet of Aged Beef with Tete De Moine, Artichoke, Grilled Ceps, Spring Onions and Truffle

Terrine of Dover Sole with Pickled Cucumber, Smoked Eel, Oysters and Caviar

Rillettes of Smoked Mackerel with a Vinaigrette of Poole Prawns, Oysters and Caviar

Potted Salmon with Cucumber, Créme Fraîche and Watercress


Roast Foie Gras with a Tarte Fine of Caramelised Chicory, Sweet and Sour Eiswein Glaze and Burnt Orange

Pot-Au-Feu of Foie Gras and Morels with a Duck and Foie Gras Club Sandwich

Mousseline of Grouse with Pearl Barley, Savoy Cabbage, Pancetta and Red Wine

Scorched Onion with a Persillade of Snails and Girolles

Aubergine Caviar with Red Mullet, Squid, Basil and Lemon


Lasagne of Crab with a Cappuccino of Shellfish and a Champagne Foam

Squid Ink Linguine with Red Mullet, Tomato, Preserved Lemon, Bottarga and Fennel

Ravioli of Lobster with Melon, Lardo Di Colonnata and a Shellfish Bisque

Egg Yolk Ravioli with Calf’s Tail, a Fondue of Ceps and White Truffle

Hand-Rolled Macaroni with New Season’s Morels and Spring Truffle Pesto

Tagliatelle with White Truffle From Alba

Cannelloni of Pyrenean Lamb with Glazed Lettuce and Ewe’s Cheese

Hand-Rolled Linguine with Perigord Truffle and Parmesan

Stuffed and Glazed Chicken Wings with Vacherin Mont D’or, Macaroni and Fondue of Leeks and Chanterelles


Risotto of Celery, Walnuts, Chanterelles and Grapes with Truffled Brie

Risotto of Wild Salmon with Fennel, Oysters, Lemon and Watercress

Risotto of Freshwater Crayfish, Sweetcorn, Girolles and Almonds with Beurre Noisette and Tarragon

Risotto Bourguignon with a Soft Poached Egg and Red Wine

Risotto of Smoked Haddock, Leeks and Cauliflower with a Vadouvan Dressing


Saute of Scottish Langoustine Tails with Parmesan Gnocchi and An Emulsion of Potato and Truffle

Roast Scallops with Lightly Curried Cauliflower Puree and a Caper, Raisin and Pomegranate Dressing

Hot and Cold Oysters with Ink Pearls, Seawater Jellies and Caviar

Ragout of Mussels and Clams with Oyster Beignets, Champagne, Leeks and Chives

Grilled Lobster with Coral Farfalle, Rosemary Butter and Ceps

Carpaccio of Scallops with Gazpacho Dressing, Créme Fraiche and Coriander Jellies and Lemon Powder

Lightly Curried Gratin of Lobster with Hand-Rolled Macaroni, Cauliflower, Leeks and Apples

Steamed Courgette Flowers with a Mousseline of Lobster, Grilled King Crab and Lemon Verbena

Buttered Cambridgeshire Asparagus with Spring Onions, Crab and Lemon Verbena


Steamed Sea Bass with Razor Clams, Lardo Di Colonnata, Japanese Mushrooms and Soy

Fillet of Halibut with a Beaufort Crust, Jerusalem Artichoke Purée and a Fondue of Leeks and Chanterelles

Fillet of Brill with a Purée of Peas, Marinated New Potatoes, Garlic Leaves and Morels

Steamed Fillet of Turbot with Cauliflower Cheese and Black Truffle Butter

Steamed Turbot with Warm Potato Pancakes, Cucumber, Iceberg, Crab, Smoked Eel and Caviar

Fillet of Cod with Hazelnut and Summer Truffle Pesto, Grilled Potatoes and Cauliflower Purée

Escalope of Wild Salmon with Crushed Broad Beans, Asparagus, and Jersey Royal, Pea and Mint Ravioli

Steamed Fillet of Cod with Truffle Butter, Creamed Potato, Leek Hearts and Salsify

Fillet of Cod with Hand-Rolled Parsley Farfalle, Girolles, Tomato, Garlic and Thyme

Roast Loin of Monkfish with Glazed Trotter, Savoy Cabbage and Lentils

Fillet of Red Mullet with a Tarte Fine of Sardines and Ratatouille, Lemon Zest and Bottarga

Fillet of John Dory with Black Rice, Langoustine Claws, Sweetcorn and Tarragon

Roulade of Dover Sole and Lobster with Oysters, Sea Kale, Lemon Oil and Chives

Roast Dover Sole with Truffled Cauliflower Purée, Savoy Cabbage, Caramelised Root Vegetables and Red Wine

Fillet of Turbot with Smoked Celeriac Milk Puree, Buttered Cabbage and An Autumn Truffle, Hazelnut and Parmesan Pesto

Fillet of Pollock with a Sourdough Crust, Creamed Potato and Cockles, Winkles and Lemon

Ragout of Brill and Mussels with Leeks, New Potatoes, Lemon Oil and Chives

Fillet of Plaice with Parsley Creamed Potato and Buttered Summer Vegetables


Breast of Chicken with New Season’s Morels and a Crisp Onion and Thyme Tart

Thinly Sliced Breast of Fatted Duck with ‘Garnish Paysanne’ and Apricot

Roast Saddle and Ravioli of Suckling Pig with Sweet and Sour Grapefruit Puree, Crushed Turnip and Chicory

Herb-Crusted Saddle of New Season’s Lamb with Shallot Purée, Balsamic Vinegar and Olive Oil

Loin of Lamb with Pea Purée, Mint Jellies, Spring Vegetables and Jersey Royal Foam

Roasted Calf’s Sweetbreads with Pata Negra, Roasting Juices and Almonds and Girolles

Fillet of Aged Ayrshire Beef with a Croustillant of Oxtail, Bone Marrow, Ceps and Snails

Breast of Guinea Fowl with Buttered Vegetables, Herb Gnocchi and Spring Truffle Pesto

Braised Veal Cheek with Hand-Rolled Macaroni, Cauliflower and Truffle

Roast Rump of Veal with Truffled Spatzle, Calf’s Tongue, Grilled Leeks and Salsify

Rump of Spring Lamb with a Jersey Royal and Broad Bean Croquette, Grelot Onions, Peas and Mint

Breast of Chicken with a Savoury Baked Potato, Caramelised Onion, Lardons, Chanterelles and Red Wine


Roast Saddle of Hare with Green Peppercorns and a Tarte Fine of Celeriac and Pear

Breast of Mallard with Pumpkin and Chestnuts and a Pie of the Leg with Raisins and Livers

Loin of Smoked Fallow Deer with Chestnut Purée, Salt-Baked Beetroot, Creamed Cabbage and Parsley Root

Roast Breast and Croustillant of Grouse with Elderberries, Crushed Root Vegetables and Ceps

Pot-Roast Pheasant with Savoury Dumplings, Parsnips, Quince, Prunes and Bay

Game Pie

Roast Grey-Legged Partridge with Celeriac, Chanterelles and a Veloute of Lentils

Roast Pigeon From Bresse with a Confit of Root Vegetables and Livers and a Croustillant of the Leg with Cabbage

Breast of Pigeon From Bresse with Hot-Smoked Consomme, Buckwheat Gnocchi, Asparagus and Hazelnut Oil




With my Head Chef, Rob Weston.

If I had had any idea just how much would be entailed in writing this book, I have no doubt in my mind that I would not have written it. It begs the question why I wanted to write it in the first place. I guess the time came when I simply felt that The Square deserved a book. The truth is, over a 21-year period, this place has not only become an immense part of my life, but has played a part in the lives of so many guests who have walked through its doors and given the dining room its heartbeat. Without diners, for many of whom food is hopefully a great passion, a restaurant is nothing but a kitchen without a purpose. The kitchen at The Square has thundered along relentlessly throughout this time, producing food with one primary purpose – to give pleasure and sustenance. The Square represents the best part of half my life and has provided a vein so rich in experience and of such a rewarding nature, that the blood and sweat I have given it pale into insignificance in the light of what it has given me. This book is, of course, primarily written for you, the reader. It is a straightforward cookbook containing an extensive repertoire of dishes that have emerged from the kitchens over the years. Whether it graces a coffee table or a kitchen shelf, I can only hope that it provides a pleasing and possibly useful insight into the food and cooking at The Square. Rather indulgently it is also for me. A solid, tangible reward for 21 years’ service!

I have been a lucky man: both the women in my life have been fantastic cooks. One most certainly helped pave the way to my becoming a chef and the other has been instrumental in my journey as a chef. Not only have my Mum and my wife been key contributors, but they have been magnificent followers and supporters too.

To say that my culinary upbringing was a quaint, cultural gathering around the kitchen table would be far from the truth. There was no peeling of chestnuts by the fire, nor family trips to the market. We moved to London from my birthplace of South Africa when I was eight and, given the dire state of cooking there until relatively recently, that was possibly the first significant move for me. I remember little about eating in South Africa, heady food moments were few and far between. Koeksisters and biltong are perhaps what I remember most – the former a deep-fried twist of pastry steeped in syrup and glazed with enamel-stripping icing, and the latter strips, chunks, shavings or any other form of salted, spiced and air-dried meat. I could carry a bone-dry strip of meat around for hours, gnawing, chewing and sucking on it until it had a soft, gobby, frayed end. I also remember the bait my grandmother’s gardener used to cook for us – meali-meal – a stiff, polenta-style preparation that my brother and I would eat while waiting for fish to bite.

Things changed when we arrived in London. My mum did do some of her shopping at a market in Hammersmith and, with two hungry boys to feed, excelled at producing endless meals. A combination of her own ideas and foraged recipes gave rise to bowls of brains soaking by the kitchen sink, the likes of calf’s liver with garlic, and epic lemon surprise pudding. The fact is, my brother and I grew up on delicious, home-cooked food. It is only now, given the current state of home cooking, or lack of, that I can appreciate not only how much effort this must have taken but how important it was. I have no idea what exactly influences the development of one’s own palate, but of all the assets I possess as a chef, my palate is the one I value most, and it is fair to say that the flavours I appreciate and enjoy now must be deep rooted in these early years.

I have no recollection of cooking as a child. I passed through my years at boarding school eating institutional food, and developed an appetite for cereal that has stayed with me. I have never been too choosy about exactly what it is that I eat, I just like it to be delicious, and the truth is that a bowl of cereal seldom disappoints.

I set off to the University of Kent with not the slightest idea how to cook. My mother sent me packing with three recipes – clearly assuming that most students would be too poor to afford meat. Spinach soup, scrambled egg with courgettes and a forgotten third constituted my debut repertoire. But cook I did, and I recall it all in the glorious technicolour it deserves. As it happened, I lived with two vegetarians, both a decade older, wiser and craftier in the kitchen, and as much as they suffered through my early culinary output, they did, in the haze of student digs, leave me to assume the role of in-house cook. The novelty of mulching overcooked spinach through a rusty sieve wore off quickly. Stir-fries took centre stage. Brief skirmishes into the arena of desserts bore shocking results. Cookies, legal and illegal, were more plentiful and successful.

It was also while in Canterbury that I ate at my first Michelin-starred restaurant: Restaurant 74, owned by the outstanding chef, Ian McAndrew. It opened my eyes to the dazzling world of haute cuisine. I will never forget that meal, although I didn’t appreciate its significance at the time. Another restaurant that had a great impact on me was a tiny place in the South of France called La Farigoulette. Tucked away on the side of a hill village, it was run by a man who often wore little more than an apron and over whom all women seemed to swoon. A typical meal might have consisted of tarte au thon, tagliatelle au pistou and gigot d’agneau aux cèpes. Pasta was rolled to order and it was this that seemed to strike such a chord with me. All these years down the line, the rolling of pasta has lost none of its appeal. The restaurant still thrives, the proprietor, Jean Claude, still rolls, the women still flock and, in many ways, it was one of the early contributors to my progress as a chef.

Three years later, with a degree tucked in my back pocket, I knew one thing for sure: my love of cooking far exceeded my abilities as a microbiologist. Although I genuinely found the world of modern science fascinating, I was neither bright enough to pursue research nor focused enough to envisage a fulfilling career. Thanks to some nifty work by my parents, I immediately travelled to the Dordogne with the agenda of testing this newfound passion as a genuine career contender. The venue was a château run as a language school for those who wanted to combine a swift but complete immersion in learning French with an abundance of bourgeois French food. A tyrant of a patron and a witch of a food and beverage manageress rattled me to the core, but against their better efforts this experience saw the seeds of my future career fall on mighty fertile soil. I wrangled with my future that summer. A self-imposed conscience pressed me to reward my privileged education with a more conformist journey into business. Challenging this was a calling from within to pursue what was fast becoming a passion, the like of which I had not experienced before.

Confused, I returned to the UK and set off on a long-planned trip with my greatest schoolmate, Jonny. Truth be told, the focus of our friendship was more on liquids than on solids, and we had a year of wild adventure. I worked for a while as a waiter in a small Italian restaurant in Sydney to muster the funds to venture further afield. Zia Pina Pizzeria was also run by a tyrant – this time in the form of a small, wiry Italian rather than a large, overweight Frenchman. I worked like a dog for this man and it seemed to me that the harder I worked, the more he disliked me – it was only ever me scrubbing the ductwork on a Saturday morning. There was little scope for revenge, but the scales of fairness swung back to my side at least once a day. The waiters had to descend into the cellar to decant and plate the filthy desserts – frozen, hollowed-out lemons filled with industrial-tasting lemon sorbet and the like. The profiteroles, however, were very edible and in the two or so minutes of subterranean activity I would consume as many as I could fit down the chute and, re-emerging with freshly wiped lips, would smirk my way past this miserable man and serve them to his endless stream of customers. I can’t say I aspired to much that took place in that restaurant, but I certainly enjoyed it. Restaurants are many things but they aren’t boring.

By the time I left Sydney the internal voice was getting louder. It seemed to coincide with a waning sense of duty in relation to my education and a feeling that, should I break away and follow this profession, the thousands of miles between me and my parents would serve as a useful defence if they met the news with disapproval. We travelled from Sydney due north in a 1969 VW Kombi. I think I cooked every meal over this two-month period and by the time we arrived in Cairns the English breakfasts were long gone. Prawns with chilli and garlic had become the norm and my relationship with cooking was set in stone.

I duly informed my parents that I wanted to be a chef and no finer display of parental support could have been shown. The truth was that this whole issue was entirely my own creation. My father had given me endless career advice but, being a businessman, this was naturally the direction that the majority of it took. I had watched him work tirelessly throughout my childhood and was now concerned he would have reservations about the demands of life as a chef and, I dare say, the improbability of earning a decent crust. This was new territory for the Howard family, and food for much thought. I continued on my trip through Thailand and Indonesia and eventually arrived back in the UK chomping at the bit.

I bought copies of the Michelin, Egon Ronay and Good Food guides and compiled a list of the top London restaurants. Given that I had no experience whatsoever and that I was set on starting in a top kitchen, I spent my first week back composing a letter with a precarious balance of charm, desire, pleading and, dare I say, arrogance. Nico Ladenis seemed to find it quietly insulting that I should even dare apply to work in his stately three-star mothership, Chez Nico; Sally Clarke was charming, but was not in a position to take on a novice; most did not respond, but Roux Restaurants Ltd, that empire towering over Albert and Michel Roux’s two three-star restaurants, offered me a job as an apprentice in their contract catering division. It was shortly after accepting this exciting opportunity that I first crossed paths with Simon Hopkinson, the chef-proprietor of Bibendum. If I recall correctly, it was the nature of my handwriting in my application letter that he responded to, rather than what it said. His interest in my letter left a mark that would play a part later in my career.

I spent the next year immersing myself in work. The main kitchen of the staff canteen at Kleinwort Benson, my first post, was closed for refurbishment and I found myself making sandwiches for 800 people a day for months on end. This, of course, was not what I had joined the legendary Roux brothers for and, through a combination of working hard and inappropriate demands and threats, I managed to pester my way to promotion to the management restaurant on the twenty-third floor of the building. Ill-equipped in every possible way, I was left in charge of the cold buffet. What I lacked in experience I made up for in enthusiasm, and I worked tirelessly to improve day after day. Some of the very same directors who used to look down their noses at the buffet chef at Kleinwort Benson I now, rather smugly, observe emptying their wallets at The Square. Full circle, I say. It was while I was mastering the art of the buffet that I got a Sunday job at a restaurant in Fulham called The Left Bank. Owned by the legendary Fernando Peire and managed by my best mate Jonny, this was my first venture into running a kitchen – albeit for one day a week. The poor resident chef who worked Monday to Saturday never understood how I managed to use all his stocks in one day – those glossy little Roux sauces didn’t come cheap.

Back at Kleinwort Benson, I had been paroled from the cold buffet and spent several months cooking for the directors’ private dining rooms. It was here that I first saw really special food. Turned vegetables, veal stocks, mousselines, lobster, plus equipment I’d never set eyes on before: super-fine sieves, pasta machines, mandolines and terrines. I will never forget the excitement of those early days. It was also here that I first tasted foie gras, and I can remember clearly how completely blow away I was by the experience. How could anything not only be so delicious but simultaneously overwhelm so many other senses? I learned how to make the Roux speciality of papillote de saumon fumé – a rich and indulgent parcel of smoked salmon mousse wrapped in a perfect slice of smoked salmon. This required a specific technique and I derived huge pleasure from taking a whole, untrimmed side of smoked salmon and transforming it into 20 perfect parcels – the trick was not only to trim the salmon immaculately, but to generate just enough trimmings to make just enough mousse to fill the 20 parcels – a perfect run left nothing but a string of bare bones, a line up of identical papillotes and a large smile.

To begin with, I worked, thought about work, slept to recover from work and got up to go back to work. I was living at home and in many ways shared the experience with no one but my Mum and Dad. I had found something so all consuming and fulfilling that I had lost the desire to do anything else. Until, that is, the younger sister of my brother Greg’s girlfriend walked into my life. Greg had met Sarah during my university days, but the younger sister had remained undiscovered for some years. In Jen, I found someone to share my passion for all things, including food and restaurants. Quite how we financed all our fine dining remains a mystery to me to this day, but eat we did, from top to bottom of London’s finest restaurants. I find it impossible to put into words the enormity of those experiences. Indulgent though they were, there was a sense of excitement and purity, a true voyage of discovery coupled with a constant unveiling of new and tantalising things. We had a thirst, a thrill-seeking search for the ultimate experience. That thirst took us inevitably to Harveys – the Wandsworth outpost of Marco Pierre White. In 1989 Marco had well and truly arrived on the scene and was on the launchpad of his meteoric rise to superstardom.

It took only the first mouthful of his infamous tagliatelle of oysters with caviar to see why. I remember the entire meal to this day. These were dishes of such spectacular beauty and finesse that I knew right then and there that I had to find my way into that kitchen. We met The Man that night and, with a follow-up call the next day, I secured the opportunity of a lifetime and one that would have an impact on the rest of my career. Yet nine months later, I found myself on the phone to Marco venting my anger that he’d sacked me the night before. During those nine months, the most exhilarating of my life to date, I’d given everything I had to that kitchen. This was work the like of which I’d never endured before and it was here, in the so-called SAS of kitchens, that I worked alongside a young Gordon Ramsay. In the very same way that there can never be another Rolling Stones or Beatles, there can never be another Harveys. So much ground was broken so fast and in such startling fashion that an equal is out of the question. Marco’s kitchen was as much a way of life, as it was a life-changing experience for me. The misconduct for which I was sacked was ‘boiling’ his then-famous creamed potato. I remember the night well – a string of events had launched the volatile Boss into one of his tirades that left anyone likely to get a red card. I may well have contributed to the catastrophic outcome for me that night, but the injustice I felt, rather pathetically, prevented me returning after a ‘recall’ during our phone conversation the following day.

Instead I turned to the missed opportunity of Simon Hopkinson’s at Bibendum. Upon starting a job in his also groundbreaking kitchen, I embarked on another steep learning curve. Here was a man whose entire focus was the ingredient – in terms of quality and, of course, flavour. My previous employers had also placed huge emphasis on the size, colour and shape of the ingredient and I struggled initially to grasp the enormity of this lesson in purity. I heard the mention of seasons for the first time and a whole new vocabulary of kitchen terminology revealed itself, all concerned with maximising flavour and general deliciousness. My days at Bibendum were full of learning and I made many great friends – none more so than Bruce Poole, then embarking on his own cooking career, now chef and owner, in partnership, of the iconic Chez Bruce (coincidentally, the reincarnation of Harveys after Marco’s move to the West End) and two of London’s other neighbourhood gems, La Trompette and The Glasshouse.

The food at Bibendum was magnificent, but it was so different from all that had gone before that I too felt as if I was starting all over again. Bruce and I sank like lead weights in more services than we conquered. My eagerness to learn and improve led me to cook for endless dinner parties for paying clients – mostly unsuspecting friends of my parents. Dramas from this particular sideline could fill a small book. Hit and miss though they were, they did enable me to acknowledge and see my own progress – albeit at the expense of others.

The cornerstones of the Bibendum kitchen were the Harris brothers. Matthew is still there, now in charge, and Henry has his own restaurant, Racine, in Knightsbridge. The brigade at Bibendum at that time was a special group of chefs and the brilliance of Simon’s cooking has helped us all to go on to achieve. Jeremy Lee had many years of phenomenal success at the Blueprint Café and is now standing proud over Quo Vadis, in Soho; Ian Bates has given pleasure to many in the West Country at The Old Spot in Wells; and the talented Matt Jones, rather anonymously, provides more people than know it with bread from his wonderful bakery, Bread Ahead. The Bibendum days were as inspirational as they were enjoyable and it was during my time there that Jen and I got married. It was also perhaps here that my confidence as a cook began to grow. By now I had amassed a bit of experience in all areas of the kitchen. Little did I know that this bit of experience was all I was going to amass before I opened The Square.

Rather surprisingly I found myself back at Harveys in 1990. Marco and his partner, Nigel Platts-Martin, had set their sights on a second property in the West End and I was recruited back to the stable to be groomed for the job. It appeared to me that I had missed out on about a decade of experience, but an opportunity presented itself and it was not one I was going to turn down. As it happens, this second site became a solo venture for Nigel, and – I assume without many options – he turned to me! And so a partnership was born. I had not met Nigel prior to this and the rather fragile and bizarre nature of our coming together was to have no bearing on our partnership’s ability to endure.

The Square opened its doors for the first time rather ominously on 13 December 1991, in King Street, St James’s. Those first intrepid customers accessed the dining room and Nigel’s welcoming smile via a wooden plank spanning a lobby of wet cement. I think this was the only aspect of the restaurant that Nigel’s long-time soulmate and builder, Arvind Vadgama, had not managed to complete. There was no reason for anyone to know who Nigel was at that point. His legal background had not fulfilled him, but had given him the opportunity to eat well, and his extensive travels round the vineyards and restaurants of France had resulted in a desire to open one himself. Harvey’s was his first venture and, with Marco Pierre White in the kitchen, one hell of an experience. The Square was to be different.

While I focused my attention on the cooking, Nigel and Arvind had spent a year in real terms, a few more in mental terms, putting together a vision of what a contemporary restaurant should be. Their coalition with the then unknown, now superstar of the restaurant design world, David Collins, bore comfortable, yet funky results. In recession-gripped London, The Square was a quietly groundbreaking restaurant. It is fair to say that Nigel and I were both grossly lacking in restaurant experience at the coalface. Nigel had amassed razor-sharp views on restaurants, mostly by frequenting them, and, of course, his ownership of Harveys had given him an insight into the colourful world behind the scenes. I had a little knowledge of fragments of the French repertoire in my armoury, but a complete lack of experience in any aspect of kitchen management. The Square was a fantastic career opportunity for me but for Nigel it represented far more than that, and failure was out of the question.

I cannot recall the opening night in any great detail but suffice to say that those opening weeks exposed many chinks in our armour. Most importantly, however, there was a steady and ever-increasing footfall to our door. These were tough times, recession was biting but, through the sheer hard work of Nigel on reception, forging relationships with hotel concierges and driving deals with the theatres, we stayed afloat. Many fine receptionists have come and gone at The Square, but none has ever matched his ability to maximise a dining room’s potential. For him, a reservation page is a mathematical game, a giant Sudoku and one where anything less than logarithmic perfection is simply unacceptable. After all, reception’s ability to harness demand and distribute it intelligently is one of the most important aspects of the restaurant business.

With Nigel’s focus completely set on creating demand and mine on catering to it, precious little time was set aside to ensure we had a profitable business. To assume that bums on seats equates to bulging bottom line is an easy mistake to make but, with my employee status upgraded to partnership with Nigel, he helped me in his inimitable way to see that the profit margins in the kitchen are vital to a restaurant’s financial success. The problem here is that chefs are creative people, and endless judgement makes us very self-seeking in our motivation. We are, by default, far more concerned about the quality of our dishes than what it costs to put them on the plate, yet it’s crucial to be aware that nurturing a bit of profit from every customer is of paramount importance. With this in mind, we focused on overheads and eventually found ourselves with a stable business. Furthermore, The Square had steadily forged itself a fine reputation as one of London’s top new restaurants – indeed, our first, and much treasured, bit of recognition came in the form of Time Out’s Best New Restaurant award in 1992.

In the early years the menu was updated and reprinted for every service. It was a constantly changing collection of dishes based on what was in season, what was affordable, what I had remembered to order and what I was in the mood to cook. Spontaneity played a part in its creation and, despite being a relentless and exhausting way to operate, it kept us all on our toes. It was the enthusiastic and quick-fire response to market availability that made the cooking full of vitality. Constant change, however, breeds inconsistency and although I genuinely believed that we were cooking some of the finest and most vibrant food in London, I also knew that we were making life hard for ourselves. With a full dining room and a chaotic kitchen, I made the decision to write menus that would roughly span the seasons. These seasonal menus enabled progress and allowed the brigade to focus on detail, with the result that the consistency of the cooking improved enormously. And with that in December 1994, out of the blue, came our first Michelin star. My brief career prior to The Square had left me relatively naive about the world of judgement and I had not given a moment’s thought to what we might or might not achieve. This award, however, sparked an ambition to take The Square onwards and upwards.

The Square moved to its current location on Bruton Street in Mayfair in 1997. The relocation gave us a vastly improved kitchen, which enabled us to make quantum leaps with the quality of the food. Our philosophy remained the same: to cook delicious seasonal dishes to the best of our ability. With a larger brigade of chefs and a more rehearsed approach to the cooking in general, we started to produce dishes that were notably more consistent and slightly more elaborate. My right-hand man at the time, Anthony Ely, was not only a fantastic cook, but infinitely more organised than I was. Systems, procedures and operational streamlining all began to play a part.

We had set our sights on gaining a second Michelin star but we were absolutely aware that looking after our customers was as much a priority as any formal recognition. In the kitchen, all emphasis was placed on delivering dishes that were not only consistently pleasing to eat, but ultimately nourished the soul too. The very best cooking can come in myriad different styles, but above all else it must be satisfying to eat. It is this that will bring customers back. With a new, highly ambitious manager, Jacques Carlino, running the dining room, looking after diners and making friends and Nigel, in collaboration with our outstanding sommelier, Christopher Delalonde, compiling a world-class wine list, The Square was quietly maturing into a restaurant of some standing.

Michelin rewarded our progress in the kitchen with a second star in 1998. An increased, albeit self-imposed, sense of responsibility settled on our shoulders and my attention turned to recruiting some highly able and ambitious talents into the fold.

Rob Weston had first walked into the kitchen the week before we opened in 1991. The friend of another chef, Andy Thomson, who I had recruited for the opening of The Square, he was relatively fresh from a long spell of cooking and sunning himself in Australia. The opening kitchen brigade, all six of us, contained several able chefs, but none more so than Rob. As much as we worked as a team, his contribution was immense and he played a significant role in helping to forge our early reputation. Two years down the line, fuelled by ambition, he moved on. Stints at three world-class restaurants in London and Paris transformed Rob from a talented young lad into an outstanding chef. He had become a great mate and had kept in touch while he worked at Restaurant Guy Savoy in Paris. The Square, too, had progressed enormously in his absence and to have him back in Bruton Street was, I hope, as rewarding for him as it was beneficial to me. Since then, Rob has been the head chef and cornerstone of the kitchen. He is one of the most gifted cooks in the country, yet our friendship, amongst other things, has fortunately kept him happily at The Square. His time will come.

What I have learned above all else in the last decade at The Square is the importance of strong partnerships, be they formalised or not. During the first decade, through a combination of constructive criticism and honest self-assessment, I became very aware of my strengths and weaknesses – as a human being, as a chef and as a restaurateur. On a professional level, it has been liberating to acknowledge that I am either ineffective at, or have limited desire to excel at, various aspects of the business of running restaurants. While I like to think that I am, hopefully, the most important, or central, piece of the jigsaw that is The Square, the awareness that I am just a piece of the jigsaw is key. The restaurant is all about teamwork. It is not the extraordinary work and vision of one man or woman, as is sometimes the case; it is the combined efforts and contributions of many talented people being consistently led by one. Through good old-fashioned luck and wise decision making, I have managed to work and live alongside some truly great people. I say work and live, for success in the workplace best stems from stability at home. Nigel and I are very different people, yet as a partnership we make an absolute whole. Very little escapes us. He is no chef, but has taught me as much about food as anyone. He has the rare ability to see food from both a chef’s and a diner’s perspective, and he understand what contributes to a dish’s enjoyability. Most importantly, he sees through the cheffiness of us cooks. We tend to derive huge satisfaction from the process of cooking and, while there is, of course, nothing wrong with that, it is only the end product of this process that is of interest to the consumer. Nigel taught me to strip away the superficial aspects of a dish, to see it for what it is and not how it came to be.

Rob and I could not be more different in our approach to running the kitchen. On a day-to-day basis we share the same goals and ultimately need to orchestrate a team. I pick up his slack and he picks up mine; it is a partnership that has become so fine-tuned as to need minimal communication.

It is to the restaurant managers, sommeliers and reception team that one must delegate responsibility and work with and listen to, as well as instruct. It is the long-term relationships nurtured with suppliers that guarantee us the best ingredients. The longevity of The Square has only been possible off the back of such partnerships. Personally, I have also had the benefit of an understanding, supportive and wonderful wife. In the twenty years of The Square she has brought up two fine children, Millie and Ali, mostly singlehandedly. We are a phenomenal unit that has managed to coexist with a career in the catering trade. My sense of worldly security is also due to having two magnificent parents, who have been a critical part of the journey in their support of both their son and the restaurant.

Another noteworthy partnership is that with Brett Graham. Brett arrived at the back door of The Square in 2000. Fresh faced and bursting with energy, he was one of many young cooks who travelled to London to learn their trade. The Square had developed quite a reputation in Australia, thanks to several chefs who had achieved success here and then returned home. Brett worked his way around the kitchen and plainly had extraordinary talent. He was as demanding as he was able – always wanting to run specials in the evening and requesting time and headspace to discuss options. Ambition took him on from The Square, but a relationship had been struck that would in time bear extraordinary fruit. The Ledbury, which I co-own with Nigel and Brett, opened in April 2005 and has gone on to achieve great things. There are many highly successful restaurants, but none has a chef with the ability to unite a deep-rooted understanding of what makes food delicious to eat with great finesse, quiet innovation and flair in quite the way Brett does. He is also a great mate.

On 13 December 2012 The Square celebrates its twenty-first birthday. It thunders along with the momentum that only a mature restaurant has. We always get there, we always make it to service, we are not perfect, but I hope we will continue to cook and serve delicious food for many years to come. If I think back to the early days, it feels like an awfully long journey, but I believe we have, above all, delivered great hospitality to a great number of people. The food at The Square has retained its integrity through the passage of time. It is perhaps lucky that I have little desire to reinvent or innovate. I love to eat, and it is with my eating hat on that I still create new menus. That is not to say the food stands still. On the contrary, we are constantly on the move, driven by two inescapable forces: nature and the seasons, and the need to progress and remain motivated, enthusiastic and inspired. The goal remains, as always, to cook wonderful food. Currently we have come full circle on a quest to cook perfect meat. We have tried the multitude of techniques out there but have come to the conclusion that meat cooked on the bone, roasted in butter, is the only way. The resting rack on the meat section looks extraordinary, considering the appearance and style of the food that guests actually receive. Whole best ends of lamb, ribs of beef, rumps of veal and ducks all sit, flavourful and succulent, waiting to be carved and served. The combination of traditional, flavour-focused techniques with low roasting temperatures yields truly outstanding results. That’s progress!

What is really amazing is that I have found the time to write a book and fill it with recipes that I truly believe in. Cooking has changed enormously over the last two decades for a variety of reasons, but none more so than in the professional chef’s relentless search for the new. The Square has progressed, our cooking has progressed and the dishes in this book genuinely reflect this. However, every dish, without exception, is conceived with one overriding focus – what will it be like to eat? It is so very important that this does not get lost in the quest for change, because ingredients that are beautifully prepared and cooked with understanding can come together to deliver pleasure in a way that nothing else can. I guess it is this that keeps me heading back to the kitchen after all these years. I only hope this book gives a few more people the opportunity to indulge in the satisfaction that cooking can bring.

With my business partner and co-owner of The Square, Nigel Platts-Martin.


The one thing that has struck me about glossy, high-end and, for the most part, ‘fine-dining’ cookbooks over the years is that the information given in a recipe is generally insufficient to achieve results even remotely close to those depicted – that is, if you are lucky enough to have a picture to look at. It is hard enough, given that the reader is probably lacking the resources a professional chef has to hand. I therefore decided that if I was to write such a book I would be as thorough and comprehensive as possible. To this end, the recipes may appear longwinded and rather laborious, but hidden in their detail is enough guidance for success, I hope.

Prior to the ingredients list and method for each recipe is a section of four short introductions. These are intended to give a clearer understanding of what the dish is about, what to focus on, what difficulties lie ahead (if any!) and how to tackle them chronologically.


This gives a sense of what is required to cook the dish. It outlines its contents and how they will be cooked.

Focus on

In every dish there are inevitably ingredients that require careful selection or methods that require careful execution. These are highlighted here, with tips given to ensure success.

Key components

This is simply a list of the key assemblies that constitute the dish. It gives an indication of how many elements require attention.


Cooking long, sometimes complex, dishes can seem daunting, but all these recipes can be broken down to enable the cook to make intelligent use of their time. Guidance for this is given here.

Most importantly, read the whole recipe first. Each dish has a photograph and it is worth studying it carefully, as a picture can provide an awful lot more insight and help than any amount of words. Don’t embark on the recipe until you have a genuine understanding of what you are required to do, and ensure you have everything to hand, in terms of both ingredients and equipment. Not all the procedures require hours on end to be spent in the kitchen, but if you want to enjoy what you are doing and achieve success, make sure you give yourself sufficient time to cook. Use the timing guidelines to break the cooking down into manageable workloads and re-read each section before you start on it. Make space, keep clean, work tidily and clear away constantly. Keeping things manageable is of utmost importance – especially when you do not have an army of chefs and kitchen porters to help. You cannot cook with refinement and finesse if you are out of control and in a mess!


The fact of the matter is that not only do stated temperatures vary from oven to oven but an oven’s ability to return to its set temperature when the door is opened is a significant variable too. Whilst the first issue can be simply remedied with the use of an oven thermometer (available at most kitchen shops), the second is more difficult to account for, as the problem, if it exists at all, is very much oven specific. The thermometer will certainly help and will guarantee that the oven at least starts off at the right temperature. Large, solid and powerful professional ovens are built to perform consistently even with constant opening and closing of the oven door. The temperature of most domestic ovens will inevitably drop to some extent and this must be taken into account when judging the cooking time of a dish. It will not have a drastic effect, and my intention here is not to add confusion, but it is important to understand that things may take a little longer to cook than stated recipe times and that, as always, some personal judgment will be required. It is also worth mentioning that the length of time that a piece of protein takes to cook will also depend on its temperature when it goes into the oven. It will take longer for a chicken to roast if taken straight from the fridge, for example, than one that has been brought to room temperature beforehand.

The timings in this book are, unless otherwise stated, for meat that has been allowed to come to room temperature before cooking. This is actually a better way to cook meat, as the cooking time will be reduced overall and the exterior surface will be exposed to less heat (and overcooking) in order to achieve the correct core temperature or ‘doneness’.


It is a fact of kitchen life that if you want to achieve sharp results you need to have the correct equipment at your disposal. Having said that, I can confidently state that the cooking at The Square, while very particular in its process, is not overwhelmingly baffling or technical. You will not, on the whole, be constructing things, measuring things or worrying whether a technique will work.

Casting an eye back over the recipes, I would say that there are several items of equipment that are truly indispensable if you wish to achieve consistently professional results.

A set of heavy-based, preferably ovenproof, saucepans

A pan’s ability not only to distribute its heat evenly, but to maintain it when ingredients are added is of paramount importance. The raw energy of the flame must be captured and harnessed in a thick layer of heat-conducting metal on the one side and redelivered as a constant, controlled and consistent source of heat on the other. Every process from the gentle sweating of an onion to the caramelisation of meat is severely compromised with poor pans. Quite often, cooking over a flame is followed by a period of time in the oven. Ovenproof pans are therefore invaluable and, whilst the entire range does not need to be so, if I had to invest in new pans, top-quality, stainless steel, ovenproof ones would be top of my list.


I am not a knife fanatic, but if the simple task of chopping an onion becomes a hair-pulling chore, then you might as well call off the whole show. It is so important to execute knife work effectively that to have anything other than sharp knives is disastrous. Simple maintenance will achieve 80 per cent sharpness and this alone will transform not only the cooking results you achieve but the results the cooking will achieve on you! At the very least, you should have a sharp paring knife, two sizes of cook’s knife – the general chopping knives – a carving knife and a boning knife. A steel, sharpening stone or the user-friendly Chantry knife sharpener is then a must.

A fine-gauged, spindle-style vegetable peeler

Invest in two or three spindle-style peelers – the ones with the swivelling blade. They vary in terms of the thickness of peel they remove, so try to get a brand that peels off as fine a layer as possible. Once you have found a good brand, buy

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