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AA Restaurant of the Year (London) 2017–18

Elystan Street

Award sponsored by Food and Travel Magazine

Thumb food and travel 

About the award

Each year the AA independently inspects hundreds of restaurants across the British Isles. This award, introduced in 2000, recognises restaurants that provide cuisine of a truly excellent standard, as well as demonstrating innovation and ambience and providing a high standard of hospitality.

Elystan Street

Rich text roty london elystan street

When Phil Howard announced the final service at The Square in 2016, the capital’s gastronomes awaited his next move with bated breath. With his long-running reputation as an A-list chef, he could have taken the cash and gone the empire-building route, but thankfully Howard just can’t stay away from the stoves. And here he is in a discreetly posh Chelsea neighbourhood (in Tom Aikens’s former premises, as it happens) at the helm of a more easygoing, yet still stylish gaff, where he seems truly at home, turning out high-flying cooking that doesn’t aim for the level of complexity achieved at The Square. The setting has an almost Scandinavian allure – bare tables, pale wood floors and curvy, pastel-hued seats – that chimes well with the more relaxed culinary approach, and the mood is of unbuttoned diners actually enjoying themselves rather than worshipping at a hushed temple of gastronomy.

Howard’s technical abilities are beyond question, and now he has shaken off the fussy shackles of high-end fine dining, the results speak for themselves, and the kitchen delivers brilliance at every turn – witness a starter that packs a large raviolo with an ingenious combo of partridge and pear, and serves it with sprouts, butternut squash, bacon and gamey juices, or another partnering deep-fried and poached mussels with a ‘salad’ of new potatoes, leek hearts, lovage purée and monk’s beard.

Next up, precision-timed John Dory fillet with roasted octopus, scorched onions, cep purée, parsley oil and garlic is a delight in conception and delivery, while meat dishes – perhaps loin of fallow deer with mustard fruits, green peppercorns and a tarte fine of celeriac and quince – show off peerless materials and flawless technique. And then there are the exquisite desserts – a benchmark lemon tart displaying consummate pastry skills, packed with intense lemon curd and served with lemon sorbet.

Read more about Elystan Street

 

Previous winners

2016 – Sosharu
2015 – Tredwells
2014 – Berners Tavern
2013 – Medlar
2012 – Dinner by Heston Blumenthal
2011 – Terroirs
2010 – Galvin La Chapelle
2009 – Corrigan’s Mayfair
2008 – Scott’s