Interviews

Phil Howard

We talk to the chef of Elystan Street who has rebooted his career after quarter of a century at The Square

After 25 years at The Square, how did it feel starting over in a new kitchen?
Exciting, of course, and such a blast to get a fresh team together to open a new restaurant.

For those who have loved dining with you at The Square, what can they expect at Elystan Street? 
Elystan Street does have a very different feel in general, with emphasis on giving guests a great time with an all round, pared back and simpler experience. The food itself is simpler and, happily, it has the same soul, given that it is born from the same mind.

Which dish on the menu are you most proud of? 
A current favourite is the Ajo Blanco. It has all the finesse of The Square and delivered simply, as we like to do at Elystan Street.

What is the strangest request you have had from a diner?
In all honesty we have a menu strewn with vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free dishes so virtually all dietary issues are dealt with through choice. Food aside, we seem to have wonderfully straightforward guests.

How do you start developing a new recipe for a dish?
I lock myself away for a few hours, think of the season and think of what I’d like to eat. Simple.

You’ve a lot of experience, what would you say is the vital ingredient for a successful kitchen?
To cook for the diner, not one’s own creative ego.

What is your favourite time of year for food and why?
I have no clear favourite. If one cooks seasonally there is always an exciting ingredient just around the culinary corner.

What's been your favourite new restaurant opening of the past year?
Perilla.

After a long day in the kitchen, what do you like to eat when you get home?
A bowl of cereal.

You have a degree in microbiology, what prompted you to take up cooking instead?
A passion for cooking – and greed!

And finally… tell us something about yourself that will surprise your diners
I like to start every service hungry – cooking with a rampant appetite ensures you are cooking for flavour and deliciousness, rather than style.

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