20 August 2015

Social Wine & Tapas

There are many many opinion pieces on whether the whole no reservations scene works in London and there doesn't seem to be a definitive answer. It works both ways and can be a bit like the two second rule in a car park, sometimes it's totally in your favour and other times you're left seething in anger.

But it seemed the former a couple of weeks ago when Jason Atherton's newest London opening Social Wine & Tapas opened up its books and we snapped up a late Saturday lunch. Bar, restaurant and wine shop all in one, there's a pretty laidback feel here which was great for a mother-daughter catch up and perfect for sharing. We sat on one of the corner tables in the upstairs Tapas Bar; there's more seating downstairs but it was pretty quiet, and also nine stools at the open kitchen to pique your curiosity. All dark woods, gold features (including walls) and green tiles, this is a far cry from the bright and airy Pollen Street Social.

There are over 100 wines to choose from, and several by the 125ml glass thanks to the Coravin wine system. We opted for a bottle of the Costiere de Nimes but if you were feeling particularly flash, there's a Jeroboam of Chateau Latour for a snip at £6,500. 

Food kicked off with the szechuan fried chiperones - tiny bites of squid in a spicy togarashi batter with squid ink aioli to dip them into. Decently salty and garlicky, the small mound quickly disappeared to be replaced by a glorious heirloom tomato salad with truffled burrata. This was my 'died and gone to heaven' dish of the day (nothing to do with my burrata obsession, of course) as the sweet red and yellow fruits mixed with the tart bite of the gazpacho vinagrette and the earthy yet creamy cheese. I would have ordered this again and again had my mum not been the sensible party at the table.

And then on to the jamon and cheese selection because who can choose just one? Meat wise, you get a slice or two of the Iberico bellota, Teruel Lomo, Chorizo Magno, Salchichon, Teruel Serrano and Cecina and then a glorious nose of the five cheeses: a creamy Bosworth Ash goat's cheese, a gooey Sharpham, a tangy Cornish Yarg, reeking Stinking Bishop and a sharp Beauvale. As I'm the kind of person who could exist on this fare alone, I was pretty content, although I would have liked a few more crackers and more of the quince jam but I am a bit of a loader.

Staff were friendly, greeting us by name at the door and attentive until it came to pay the bill. The only disappointing thing was seeing a kitchen porter take several trips across the restaurant to stock up supplies and carry out rubbish, but let's hope that was just a one off.

Evidently, it's another great string to Atherton's bow. I'm now three into his outposts and each are charming. Check out what I made of Pollen Street Social and Social Eating House.

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