Phil Howard has had quite a career to date; his time running Mayfair stalwart The Square gained him 2 Michelin stars, neighbourhood favourite Kitchen W8 is always busy and he’s regularly a judge on BBC’s Great British Menu.
He’s now opened Elystan Street in Chelsea on the former Tom Aikens site. Gone is the dark dining room with quote ridden walls. Instead it’s a bright and airy affair and on our visit, it’s filled with ladies who lunch. It’s all very serene.
During lunch it’s a set menu; 2 courses for £35 or 3 for £42.50. We start with a burratina, which is a baby burrata, with late season tomatoes, green olives and “aromatic crunch” – not convinced by that description myself. Creamy burrata, sweet tomatoes and some peppery rocket – dreamy stuff. Simple plates of food where the quality of the produce does the talking seem to be my preferred dishes these days.
Hand rolled linguine with an emulsion of ceps and parmesan was so good it gave Padella in Borough Market a run for its money. It was the sort of thing you didn’t want to finish as the sauce was so lovely.
A fillet of John Dory came atop some black rice which, surprisingly, didn’t overpower the delicate fish. Some butternut squash and crispy sage leaves gave it an Autumnal feel. Rump of lamb came with a chunk of pesto roasted aubergine, layers of crisp potato and cloves of squishy, sticky garlic. As far as flavour combinations go, it was the d’s b’s.
For pud, blackberry jelly was a celebration of the fruit. Blackberry jelly, blackberry sorbet, blackberry compote, blackberries – if you like blackberries you’re in for a treat. A little more indulgent was the pistachio and almond tart; fit to bursting with nuts and a slightly chewy exterior which was heavenly. An accompanying goats milk ice cream was just the ticket.
Sometimes restaurants open and get it right from the beginning and Elystan Street is one of them. We visited on their first official day yet it felt like they’d been doing it for years. It’s a smooth operation and one that I don’t doubt the people of Chelsea will be making the most of.
Would we go back? Yes.
We dined as guests of the restaurant