I’m on a quest to try all of Jason Atherton’s London based restaurants as so far, they’ve all been fabulous. It’s a personal mission after eating in Berner’s Tavern as pretentious as it sounds. But I’m ok with that, as long as good food is involved. He’s got an awesome gig going on with restaurants all over Hong Kong, Singapore, Shanghai, New York, Dubai and soon to be Sydney. If that’s not a profound thing for a Lincolnshire lad who was brought up in a caravan in Skegness, then I don’t know what is. According to the beeb, Jason’s empire turns over £70 million a year, impressive stuff indeed. Cutting to the chase Social Eating House opened in April 2013. Head Chef is Paul Wood, formally of sister restaurant Pollen Street Social. Wood worked with Jason for over 6 years prior to this. The restaurant is spread across 3 floors, the top being The Blind Pig, the 2nd being the main restaurant and the basement floor is where the chef’s counter is based. The latter seats 15 people in a similar spirit to James Knappett’s Kitchen Table. The format seems to be a laid back bistro, clad with patina’d leather banquettes, polished copper ceilings with matching light ornaments attached to distressed brick work. Somehow the food and service is what you’d expect from a Michelin starred establishment – hold on IT IS Michelin starred! The accolade was awarded in it’d first year of business apparently. I was fortunate enough to dine pre star during Christmas time of 2013 and post star in July 2015, here are my experiences:
We lubricated with Thermo-nuclear daiquiris (£9) in The Blind Pig. It contains spiced pineapple felernum, absinth and lime juice, served in a glowing container with bio-hazardous tape! Visually it’s entertaining and a hoot to drink too, be warned though they back a punch and you might think you’re a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle after a couple! Which is the most you’ll be served I will add.
I love the fact the menu focusses on British seasonality and comes with the distance in miles of where it originates. A nice touch indeed.
For starters I opt for the Saddleback Pig ‘head to toe’, celeriac, apple, honey mustard. (£9.5). It came with creamy celeriac slaw, bread crumbed pork parts and apple juliennes. It was a lovely plate of food with flavours that went together like clockwork.
My dinner pal goes for the smoked Shetland salmon, miso créme fraiche, BBQ cucumber, winter truffle. £11.50. You get a huge piece of salmon, it’s rich. The oily profile is lifted by the lactic créme fraiche and umami miso.
Roasted Cornish bream, saffron farfelle, truffle artichoke purée, artichoke Barigoulle. (£20). Barigoule is a traditional Provençal dish of braised artichokes cooked in white wine and carrots in case you’re wondering. The carrots were beautifully sweet and everything just amplified the flavour of the fish which was cooked perfectly, it was exactly what I needed after a very heavy period of Christmas indulgence.
Roast north sea halibut, St.Austell mussels, courgettes, bak choi, roasted chicken jus. (£24.50). A faultless well seasoned piece of fish, enhanced by the roasted richness of chicken.
There is always time for desert especially since the chef’s repertoire has been so impressive so far.
70% chocolate nemesis, Vin Santo, mascarpone, espresso essence. (£7.5). With ‘nemesis’ in the title it was hard not to order this little gem. In essence, it was a damn good chocolate brownie with coffee, sweet Italian desert wine and cream cheese. What’s there not to love?
Apple pie, Calvados ice cream, cinnamon custard toffee apple. (£7.5). This is how all apple pies should taste in my opinion. The pastry case was buttery, nutty and the stewed apple filling was cooked beautifully. The ice cream and teeny toffee apple were just the icing on the cake. If only the toffee apples I used to have as a kid tasted this good!
ROUND 2: Revisited during July 2015.
Looks familiar doesn’t it? Although the thermo-nuclear daiquiri is no longer on the the menu but our lovely bartender offered to make us one anyway (£10.50). Not only is the Blind Pig an awesome cocktail bar but they are accommodating too. We are off to a good start!
A menu driven by British seasonality means it’s a treat to see so many new things since my December 2013 visit.
If you fancy steak, don’t be shy!
Smoked Lincolnshire eel, salt and vinegar Jersey Royals, macadamia nut, land seaweed. £12.50. The eel came with a great smokey flavour, strong enough to know it’s there, but not overpowering. The potatoes were lovely too, albeit too many of them were on the plate. It didn’t hit the sweet spot like the rest of the starters sadly.
Dorset crab, compressed radish, green apple, peanut, aigre doux, puffed rice. £13.50. Aigre doux? Why couldn’t they just say sweet and sour? A little pretentiousness did the crab no harm though as it was absolutely on point, the tangy crunchy radish and apple worked so well against that delicate sweet crab flesh.
Salt baked Jerusalem artichoke, Iberico De Bellota, Cacklebean Hen’s egg, Langres, dandelion, summer truffle. £13.50. The Iberico ham was rich and nutty, the egg molten egg oozed onto the rest of the components in the dish. Every flavour was identifiable and worked well together. It was an accomplished dish.
35 day aged Native Cumbrian Black Angus rib eye £35.50. Cooked over charcoal, it comes with perfectly seasoned mix leaf salad and in my opinion some of the best duck fat chips in London. It was a tasty piece of meat but not a patch on Mash.
As was the 42 day aged Native Cumbrian rump £24. Not the most tender piece of beef, granted it’s rump but it was cooked nicely and the flavour was rich and intense.
Duck fat chips (£5.50) are just like the ones in Berners Tavern, crisp outer shell, fluffy on the inside, they were a triumph.
Charred côte de porc, black pudding, nettles, summer turnip, sunflower seeds, young leek, malted barley. £25. I was sad when Berners Tavern took the Dingley Dell pork chop off the menu but this plate of porky pleasure took all the pain away. The chop was utterly juicy and charred to a perfect pink in the middle. Turnips were sweet & earthy, black pudding crispy yet not greasy. And how can something so barbed and bristly taste so good too? The nettles I’m talking about and they came in a pesto like texture with an incredible intense spinach like flavour. I took my time with this dish, I consumed every bite with a lasting impression!
Here’s a view pre-sauce.
Here’s another view after saucing.
Mash (£5.50) with truffle supplement (£10). This was quite possibly the richest mash I’ve ever experienced, buttery smooth and sticks to your spoon like glue. The truffles were so unnecessary but something in our heads said we we just had to have them.
Tender stem broccoli (£5.50). Every good meal comes with greens right? Oh yes it does and these little broccoli’s were intensely buttery and really good with those toasted almonds. Your mother was right, you must eat your greens especially if they taste like this.
Pinot Julicher (£57) is what we washed our meal down with, not too heavy, fruity and full of character.
Knickerbocker glory (£9.50). This is a dangerous desert, gratifying, waist thickening and addictive. It comes with cubed brownies, chocolate, griottine cherry and vanilla ice cream. The cherry sorbet is food porn at it’s finest and trust me it’s made for sharing.
When did I go? Dec 13 and July 2016
The damage: Expect to pay £80-£125 per head with wine and cocktails
The good: Seasonal British products cooked to a very high standard at reasonable prices as they should. Great casual-fun-dining experience with matching service that will guarantee to get your culinary horn on!
The bad: Paul Hood should have come out to say hello and take our praise, it doesn’t take much effort!
Would I go again? Imminently
Address: 58 Poland St, Soho, London W1F 7NR