Elystan Street, London
Phil Howard is known as being one of the most hardworking chefs in the UK, and it came as a shock to many when he sold his acclaimed two-Michelin-starred restaurant The Square in 2016. Rather than taking a break from the kitchen, however, he opened Elystan Street, on the former site of Restaurant Tom Aikens, in Chelsea.
While Phil describes the food at Elystan Street as being relaxed and casual, the quality and care that goes into the Michelin-starred menu is still of the absolute highest calibre. The menu is made up of seasonal, ingredient-led dishes which allow the pure flavours of the produce to shine through, and there’s a lean towards lighter, cleaner food. Vegetables, grains and ferments play an important role, with rich meats and sauces often playing second fiddle to something more wholesome. It’s the food Phil likes to cook, doing away with the incredible complexity of his past dishes and instead offering something from the heart.
The restaurant itself does away with white tablecloths and grandiose décor, instead favouring plain wooden and polished concrete tables, smart contemporary furniture and a large, open dining room. Phil enlisted the help of Nelson Design to create the interior, giving it the feel of a welcoming neighbourhood restaurant.
There is no tasting menu; instead, diners can choose à la carte for lunch or dinner. Roasts are available on a Sunday, although they are far from what the average pub offers, with dishes such as lamb rump with sweet roasted tomatoes, garlic, fried courgettes and olives. Lunch is a little lighter, with plates of sea bream ceviche with avocado, lime and coriander, or hand-cut squid ink bucatini with sardine vinaigrette, orange zest and toasted crumbs.
Elystan Street was opened by Phil because he wanted to cook the food he enjoyed. With the relaxed atmosphere, light, playful dishes and simple menus it’s clear he’s having a fun time in the kitchen – just don’t think that the flavours and cuisine he creates is anything less than world-class.