City Social: Atherton Strikes Again
It’s no secret that I love a Jason Atherton establishment, in particular Social Eating House, less so Berner’s Tavern, so it comes as no surprise that I was particularly wooed by newest member of the family; City Social. This long awaited opening has taken over the knackered Gary Rhodes site on the 24th floor of Tower 42.
We’re in the midst of a heatwave, so I opt for a leisurely stroll from the office, up the South Bank, over Blackfriars and then into the City. Hoards of smashed suited and booted folk spill out of various watering holes and onto the cobbled lanes. Whilst I am in no way tempted by this horseplay, I wouldn’t say no to a roof terrace and a Gin Tónica, but instead I am scaling up to the top of a building so fast my ears pop, and there’s not a terrace in sight. Upon entering the sizable bar in City Social, my desire for an al fresco moment swiftly subsides.
Initial impressions are that the fit out is first class, no expense has been spared. There is a rare feeling of space, none of this tables-on-top-of-each-other malarkey. Comfy circular banquettes make up the majority of window seating, and there are gorgeous tables of two for anyone on a hot date. Great Gatsby which saturated our screens and Christmas party themes comes up a few times in conversation, and I can see why; the room is opulent and luxurious. The vibe is stylish enough for an important meeting and sexy enough for a special occasion. Nailed it!
There are traces of The Blind Pig (Social Eating House) on the cocktail menu, but a cookie-cutter menu is it not, there’s just a comforting reassurance that the tipples are going to be top dog. Darty and I are dining with good friends Charlie and Lou, meaning double the sampling is in order; jackpot! L’amuse Goose (guess the vodka!?) and Kammadaderie (with… Kamm and Sons!) are served short and will be great for summer sipping, or in my case, guzzling. Ever the fan of pink drinks, Darty goes for smokey Rhu Scholarship with cheeky Cocchi Rosa and rhubarb bacon, OVZ. Predictable, as ever, I fall head over heels for Vermouth? You Can’t Handle Vermouth!’. It’s always wise to leave something to go back for, and in this case it’s the Herbal Effervesences; a heady-sounding mix of Altos Blancos tequila, roast pineapple, tarragon and Champagne. Hic.A bottle of Champagne arrives to help us navigate the menu, and rightly so. Craftily broken down into raw, cooked, pasta, mains and grill, it is one of those seductive stories of dishes, each of which, you would genuinely find a place for in your life. Not that I gained from this (damn you, gluten!), but having the pastas as a starter option is a nice touch; the warm fruits of the sea linguini with shellfish juices is promptly polished off at our table. More up my street is the yellow fin tuna tataki with avo and Ponzu dressing. Another celebration of green is the asparagus with Parmesan sable, hen’s egg and aged Pecorino; a very moreish thing indeed. On the subject of eating the rainbow, let’s talk about the heritage and heirloom (two of my favourite words, as you’ll know) tommi salad with the creamiest burrata, tommi consommé and frozen basil. Simple but superbly executed; standout starter of the quartet, for me. This is when a spanner is thrown in the works. We are told that Lou’s lobster is not in a good place, so much so that the kitchen won’t serve him. What could have been a major tits up scenario is expertly recovered by the Manager who sends us a middle course of cep risotto with sweetbreads and an indulgent truffle Madeira glaze. The adventurous gents share a cote de boeuf, which is obviously exceptional, but I would rather write about the two exciting fish dishes now. Braised Isle of Gigha halibut with squid and red pepper stew is hearty and rustic enough to remind me of Northern Spain but with ‘that’ Atherton something. My line-caught Bass with cauliflower and oyster velouté is a showstopper, magic with the bottle of Chablis we are rocking, and would be even better with a glass of Champagne, but we’re not going to remortgage the house, just yet. For me, any more food is out of the question, but the boys have other things in mind and fire in a tart tatin to share, the serving of which alone makes it worth ordering; it’s a trolley-to-table job; a lovely bit of showmanship. All I can manage is an espresso martini and a salted butter caramel before skipping off into the night, already eager to return to City Social again. I’ll just need to start saving now because it’s far from a cheap night out, but that’s the City for you, innit.
Five Very Kerri things about City Social
- Jason Atherton
- Bags of style
- Tongue-in-cheek tails
- Warm, perfect service
- Em, the view