Phil Howard’s super-smart, possibly perfect neighbourhood restaurant
When Phil Howard called time at Mayfair restaurant The Square after 25 years, having gained and presided over two Michelin stars for almost two decades, he would have been excused for putting his feet up. Instead, he dived straight back into the kitchen to open Elystan Street in Chelsea, claiming he had “unfinished business”.
The food is more relaxed at Elystan Street than at the Mayfair restaurant to which he dedicated so much time, the portions are heartier and the service less fussy, but the talent of Howard and his right-hand man head chef Toby Burrowes, who spent four years with him at The Square before following him to Chelsea, shines through in every dish.
Thus, Elystan Street is a smart and classy neighbourhood restaurant par excellence, with Howard’s cooking all the better for him having been unshackled from the sometimes suffocating trappings of a two-star kitchen and its amuse bouches and pre-desserts.
Dishes are cheffy without being overwrought and use standout seasonal ingredients to great effect. With starters topping out at £22 and mains at £37, Elystan Street’s à la carte menu might be out of reach for all but those that dwell within the posh postcode, but at £30 its three-course set lunch menu gives the restaurant broader appeal. We’re not talking a tepid limited offer either, but a good selection of dishes picked from the à la carte that have been tweaked (only slightly) for the purpose.
Is Elystan Street the perfect neighbourhood restaurant? It just might be.