With a celebrated chef and countless award wins, Elystan’s star is firmly on the ascent
Words Hannah Hopkins
Despite London’s innumerable restaurants, it’s still hard to find a place to eat where every single dish hits the spot. Enter Elystan Street. Since opening in September last year, it’s become a favourite of local denizens and far-flung foodies, who return time and again for the plate-lickable cooking.
Co-owners chef Phil Howard and restaurateur Rebecca Mascarenhas have created a modern space with a European menu that perfectly balances exceptional food with a relaxed atmosphere. Having spent the last 25 years as chef-patron of The Square in Mayfair, Howard was keen to eschew the stiff atmosphere and white tablecloths of many high-end restaurants and create a place where service is knowledgeable but approachable and the food is flawless. It seems to be working…this April he was awarded GQ Magazine’s ‘Best Chef’ award and Elystan Street is full-up on the regular. Now the duo’s plan is to launch casual lunches, served in the restaurant’s private dining room and catering to locals, shoppers and business-types who want to drop-in for a quick bite.
Go in the evening though, and you’ll want to settle in for hours. The light-filled space of the main dining room is home to super-comfy teal leather banquettes and chairs in candy-coloured shades of salmon and baby blue. Howard brought 25-year-old Toby Burrowes from The Square and made him Elystan’s head chef, where he and the team transform humble ingredients into something ethereal.
A starter of cool almond soup with grapes, garlic, melon, cucumber and olive oil is a revelation, even for those you think they don’t like cold soup (trust us, you will be swayed). Cool and refreshing, with sweet and spicy notes, as soon as we started eating we fell silent, save only for occasional ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’. We are treated to hand cut squid ink bucatini with sardine vinaigrette, orange zest and toasted crumbs. Its unusual combination of saltiness and freshness from the orange meant it was inhaled. A main of roast cod with a purée of peas, crushed potatoes, lardo di colonnata and roasting juices was succulent, salty and rich, with welcome sweet notes of pea.
To finish off we had the berry pavlova, but it was the white peach with lemon verbena and almonds that stole the show. Beautiful to look at and to eat, it’s a serious contender for ‘best of the year’…a sentiment that extends to Elystan Street itself.