Carole Hamilton joins the in-crowd in a select corner of Chelsea where Phil Howard is, once again, doing what he does best
Phil Howard is something of a culinary legend. I remember going to one of my first ever ‘posh’ lunches at The Square in Mayfair where he previously held two Michelin stars. It was all pretty intimidating – beautiful food but frankly not somewhere I would rush to revisit. Since selling The Square last year, Mr. Howard has made a welcome return with a new restaurant in the heart of Chelsea, close to Brompton Cross. And I’m happy to say the food is still as wonderful but the ambience is a whole lot more relaxed.
On the site of what used to be a Tom Aikens establishment, Elystan Street is a light, airy and quietly classy space. In her review, Evening Standard critic Fay Maschler said that she missed the table cloths, but I like the informality. The front of house team are full of smiles and happy to make recommendations. Phil pops out of his kitchen on several occasions to chat to his customers, including his mum is sitting at the very next table.
The food and drink
I best start by saying that, for all its laid-back charm, dinner at Elystan Street is pretty pricey. The set lunch menu gets my recommendation at £35 for two courses or £43.50 for three, offering lots of options and excellent value for cooking of this calibre. The food is modern British, and the menu is one of those where you’re spoilt for choice; it all sounds so good, with ingredients that you just know will work well together.
We start with some deliciously soft black figs teamed with burrata, prosciutto, a scattering of pine nuts and a nice slug of balsamic. The filet of sea bream is complemented perfectly with spicy aubergine and cumin. I have food envy at my companion’s mouthwatering grouse breast, delicately pink with a rich sauce of wonderfully flavourful elderberries.
For dessert, the rice pudding soufflé with plum and the Rocky Road ice-cream both hit the sweet spot. A friend who has visited Elystan Street on several occasions for dinner reckons the lemon tart is the best to be had anywhere in London, so definitely one for my future wish list.
Elystan Street is currently wowing punters and critics alike with chefs Tom Sellers, Richard Corrigan and Chris Galvin choosing it as their favourite new restaurant opening of the past year – praise indeed. Welcome back Phil!
Phil Howard is one of London’s great chefs so get yourself on the reservation list and we don’t think you’ll be disappointed.
43 Elystan Street, London SW3 3NT, 020 7628 5005, elystanstreet.com