The Resident takes a trip to Chelsea to dine at Phil Howard’s new restaurant Elystan Street. It’s far from cheap, but is the price tag worth it?
The arrival of Phil Howard, who won two Michelin stars at Mayfair’s The Square, in Chelsea has been cause of numerous articles proclaiming the area ‘the next fashionable hotspot’. Certainly, Howard is one of the major London chefs, and any restaurant that he’s involved in is a big, big deal.
Yet early reports indicated that he’s abandoned many of the fine dining traditions (no white tablecloths, amuse bouches or tasting menus) in favour of a well-chosen, seasonal menu of gutsy ingredients with big flavours.
When we arrive early on a Tuesday evening, it seems suspiciously quiet for half an hour or so, but soon fills up. The Howard brand is, it would seem, still an extremely potent one. The dinner menu is perused with great interest.
It is far from cheap – starters hover around the £20 mark, mains often exceed £30 – but one would expect the cooking to be of such a superlative standard that a three-course meal without wine for two coming in at £150 including service is worth it. Thankfully, it very much is.
It is far from cheap – starters hover around the £20 mark, mains often exceed £30 – but one would expect the cooking to be of such a superlative standard that a three-course meal without wine in at £150 including service is worth it
Starters of partridge and pear ravioli and beetroot cured halibut with eel are sensationally presented and taste delicious. Every morsel has the calm perfection that comes with the confidence of a chef who knows precisely what he’s doing.
Our main courses are even better; pluma and cheek of pata negra pork makes one realise just how wonderful this dish can be with the right chef in charge, and aged fillet and short rib of beef comes complete with bone marrow, wild mushroom and numerous other little touches that make this a delight. The only slightly jarring note was the grapefruit accompanying the pork; slightly too sharp, it offered just the faintest incongruity.
The wine list offers a decent variety at most price points, and a 2012 bottle of Pomerol did a more than decent job of accompanying the mains. We were whisked in and out in less than two hours for three courses, but did not feel at all rushed or hurried. Early reviews have been glowing; on the evidence of our visit, this one will run and run for years. It deserves to.
Dinner for two around £200
A great chef letting his hair down in deliciously satisfying fashion
What to eat…
Anything you try will be good, though we were intrigued by the presence of a chicken Caesar salad on the lunch menu
What to know…
The restaurant was, for a long time, operated by Tom Aikens as his Michelin-starred flagship
43 Elystan Street SW3 3NT; 020 7628 5005; elystanstreet.com