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Elystan Street in London

Rating: 86.
Rating index:
Extraordinary (96-100)
Outstanding (93-95)
Very good to Excellent (89-92)
Above average to Good (86-88)
Below Average to Average (80-85)
Avoid (below 80)
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Last year London's Mayfair saw two veteran chefs leaving this very prestigious area: Phil Howard of the much-loved and celebrated The Square on Bruton Street, the longest running two Michelin-starred restaurant in London after Le Gavroche, and Claude Bosi of the equally loved and celebrated Hibiscus, also two Michelin stars, on Maddox Street. The Square is still open for business and has a new executive chef, Yu Sugimoto, but sadly Hibiscus has closed its doors for good. But don't worry, both chefs are making a fresh start in the London dining scene with more casual ventures. Claude Bosi will open a new restaurant this spring called Claude Bosi at Bibendum, and Phil Howard has already made a comeback with the opening of Elystan Street in London's Chelsea in September 2016. Co-owner of Elystan Street is London restaurateur Rebecca Mascarenhas and the kitchen team is led by Toby Burrowes, who previously worked alongside Howard at The Square.

(courtesy of Elystan Street)

Elystan Street is open daily for lunch and dinner. There's a set lunch menu (2 courses £35, 3 courses £42.50) with a broad choice of dishes and at dinnertime there's an à la carte menu (starters £10 - £30, mains £22 - £39, desserts £12 - £15). On Sundays the restaurant offers a special "Sunday Lunch" menu (3 courses £50). I had dinner with my husband at Elystan Street on Friday 18 November 2016 on we both ordered a starter and a main from the a la carte menu, plus an extra course and dessert to share.

My starter was a hearty and creamy cep velouté spiked with a thyme-flavoured chantilly cream, and accompanied by some truffled toast with finely grated Parmesan cheese. An enjoyable velouté - ceps and thyme make for a classic and lovely flavour marriage, but in the end the velouté was lacking flavour substance and the cream took over.

Next we shared a well-made partridge and pear raviolo served with crunchy deep-fried brussels sprouts, game juices and crisp bacon bits. A lovely dish that delivered on the partridge flavour, which was elegantly gamey, but the pear flavour was too subtle. The deep-fried brussels sprouts were a nice and creative touch, their mild bitters balancing the dish nicely.

My main course was John Dory, served with roasted octopus, scorched blooming onion, wilted spinach, parsley oil, ceps and a garlic sauce. A busy plate with nicely cooked John Dory, but also a suprisingly heavy dish, with hefty seasoning, and the garlic sauce tasted a bit musty. Altogether it didn't work completely as a dish.

But there was lemon tart to save the day. A brilliant lemon tart (simply served with some yoghurt ice cream) that delivered everything you want a lemon tart to deliver. Creamy, every so slightly wobbly, sharp and zesty, beautiful lemon flavours that linger on the palate, and equally important, buttery and even pastry. Perfection.

When a chef of the caliber of Philip Howard says "it's time to move on" and opens a shiny new restaurant offering "less crafted and more casual" food, you enter the restaurant with high hopes. I had a pleasant evening; the staff was friendly and professional. The food on the other hand was nice enough, but simply didn't live up to expectation and prices. Three courses at Elystan Street, including 12.5% service charge set you back upwards of £70. The lemon tart was absolutely superb, but the refinement level of some of the other dishes could be turned up a notch or two, without becoming too crafted. In my book, a restaurant like this should easily score 89 or more, but for now, partly thanks to the lemon tart, I'm at 86.


Posted 19-01-2017

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