What do you need to know about City Social?
It's the latest restaurant from one of London's busiest chefs/restaurateurs, Jason Atherton and the most recent to open from his "Social" group of restaurants (following on from Pollen Street Social, Social Eating House and Little Social).
If you're familiar with those restaurants, particularly Social Eating House, then you'll recognise many Atherton elements here - particularly the equal emphasis (and space) on both bar and restaurant. Albeit with a significantly enhanced view.
So - how about that view?
It's not the highest of the high rises we've been to recently, but it is slap bang in the middle of the city. We think the best views are actually from the bar and the private dining rooms which face west.
And who's it suitable for?
There's no doubt that this will be a very handy location for city-folk. It has a great mix of impressive views with a varied menu that is ideal for entertaining clients. However, the bar itself is going to be a real draw for anyone in the area once the word gets out.
So where should we meet for a drink first?
Definitely that bar. As with other high rise places in London, it's just easier to go up the lift and settle down with a drink rather than try to meet elsewhere. You might as well get used to the view if you're waiting and, as with all of Jason Atherton's restaurants, the cocktails are a must to kick off the evening with.
it is worth noting that City Social has its own entrance to the right of the main Tower 42 doors - so head for that rather than going into the main building when you arrive as you used to have to do.
Where should we sit?
The prime seats are the banquette seating set back from but still facing the windows in the restaurant. Given the effort put into the design of City Social, we think it's actually nicer to be able to take in some of the room as well as the view outside.
And what should we order?
There are a couple of things on the menu that you won't see at other Jason Atherton restaurants so it's worth making sure you order them - the pasta and the souffle. When we visited, particular highlights were:
- The pig's trotter and ham hock with crispy Mrs Brown's black pudding, apple and madeira and an excellent Cumbrian beef tartare were both fine starters.
- Both the pasta - warm fruits of the sea, linguini and shellfish cooking juices (£14/£26) - and the risotto of cèps, crispy veal sweetbread, and Madeira glaze (£12/£22) were absolutely excellent. Pasta isn't something Jason's focused on since leaving Maze but these dishes are more than a match for some of the better Italian dishes we've had in London and should definitely be on your list if you're coming here.
- Two of the mains came with little extra dishes which could be meals on their own. The Rack of Romney Marsh lamb (£32) was served along with a mini braised shoulder shepherd’s pie (you have to love a dish that comes with Shepherd's pie on the side) and a rabbit sausage cassoulet came with the rabbit saddle (£28). Both were excellent - although the cassoulet was so good that it ended up overshadowing the saddle.
- We also tried something else that Atherton hasn't had on his menus in a while - a strawberry soufflé, macerated strawberry salad and yoghurt sorbet (£8.50). Well worth the 20 minute wait and easily enough for two people.
It's always worth having a cocktail or two at any of Jason Atherton's restaurants and this is no exception. Prices are mid way between Social Eating House and Pollen Street - at the £11-£12 mark. As for wine - that starts at £7 a glass (175ml) and there's a bottle for £24 on the list which is a bit of a bargain for this type of restaurant.
Jason Atherton can seem to do no wrong and this will undoubtedly be another winner for him. Good food, a destination bar space and some very special private dining rooms mean this is ideally placed for City folk. The restaurant is on the expensive side - but that's to be expected for its location and that bar is pretty good value for the area.
City Social is at Tower 42, 25 Old Broad Street, London EC2N 1HQ. Find out more about City Social.
Hot Dinners were invited to City Social. Prices were correct at the time of writing.