In 2013 Jason Atherton was an extremely busy man opening two new ventures in 2013 – the Little Social on March the 18th and also Social Eating House which opened on the same date the following month. (My review can be seen here). Little social is exactly what you want from a French style bistro, red leather banquets, period framed posters, lots of dark wood and a cocktail bar to boot. Head Chef Cary Docherty from British Columbia has been in London for over 10 years now and made his name in Gordon Ramsey’s Maze as Senior Chef de Partie where he met with Jason Atherton. He has also had stints in Zuma (2007) and Junior sous Chef under Clare Smyth at the 3 Michelin-starred Gordon Ramsey, so he knows his way around the kitchen!
Southern Ginger £12.50. Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva rum, Grand Marnier, lime, elderflower & ginger beer. This drink intrigued me as a love Diplomatico and ginger beer but it was way too sweet for my tastes, it’s a palate thing. But they were kind enough to chalk this one off the bill.
First impressions are crucial – it always starts with the bread and it’s good with the house butter (with sea salt), olive oil and balsamic. We doubled up on the brown salvador bread and white french baguette.
Chinon Cuvée Terrois £45. (Charles Joguet). It tasted young and refreshing, a good choice with all the rich food.
Raw hand dived Isle of Mull scallops, dashi jelly, apple, shiso wasabi & avocado purée £15.50. This is a skilled piece of cooking which kept the sweet integrity of the scallop – perhaps a little high end for a bistro? I’m not complaining!
Warm cooked eel, beetroot, horseradish cream, watercress £14.50. Piped beets and little melon balled peach coloured beets to go with the smoked meaty eel – it was a good harmonious plate.
Aged Scottish beef burger, bacon & cheese, caramelised onions, pickles cheese £17. I can imagine this burger has featured in many a burger debate/war as it’s a thing of how burgers should really be. Cooked medium using the chunk flank & neck of the animal but enough so you get the caramelisation crust on the patty and smothered in sweet onions, cheese and salt cured bacon. It’s an accomplished burger. The fries were quality too.
Braised ox cheeks, roasted bone marrow, sour dough crumb, carrot, horse radish mash £27.50. Ox cheek marinated for 24 hours with port, then cooked with butter, seat salt, a pinch of curry powder, onion and peppercorns. It changes the game with the deep umami flavour, unctuousness and lip-smacking richness. Comfort food personified. That carrot was so tender and sweet too.
Hand rolled pistachio chocolate truffles and petit canelés £4.50. They look and taste stunning, I particularly adore the canelés as they encapsulated everything you want in a pastry – sweet crispy caramelised shell with soft custardy centre.
Macallan Rare Cask – we managed to pinch a little drop and it was wonderfully oaky and prominent in vanilla. At £45 a go though we opted for the Nikka from the Barrel £11.
When did I go? March 2016
The damage: Expect to pay £70-£85 per head with drinks.
The good: Atherton hits the high notes with his homage to the Parisian bistro, the ox cheek was a flavour riot with the roasted bone marrow scoop and mustard mustard mash. The burger compelling but not as memorable but the canelé were impeccable. I love the booths and our waitress ‘Anais’ was warm, charming and very knowledgeable about all the ingredients.
The bad: Shouldn’t a bistro be more fairly priced?
Address: 5 Pollen Street, Mayfair, London W1S 1NE Tel: 020 7870 3730.
Phone: 020 7870 3730
Closest tube: Oxford Circus/Piccadilly