Social Wine and Tapas

Chef Atherton has done it (again); his latest London venture in the neighbourhood of Marylebone is centred around the concept of small sharing dishes with an eclectic influence. This new restaurant is one of the key openings of the year so I just had to visit and see what the hype was about.

The restaurant, located on James Street (a 3 minute walk from Selfridges), stands out with its glossy exterior, tantalising ageing meats and vintage wines displayed in the front windows. The interior was just as impressive as the exterior; modern rustic vibes from the dark wood furnishings, eased along by a relaxing ambience brought about by the clever lighting. I also admired the clever innovation of the cutlery stacker which makes so much sense for a tapas-based menu.








The advocated 'shared dishes' theme obviously necessitates the need for a guest which is why Mr Maple Leaf was joining me this time round. This way, we could have many more dishes to try! The menu is divided into eight sections: Para Picar, Hams, Cheese, Eggs, Vegetables, Fish & Seafood, Meat and Desserts. Mr Maple Leaf and I covered pretty much all of the menu except the Cheese and Hams sections.



The first thing that came was the Raw Orkney sea scallop with yuzu, radish and cucumber (£7). I liked the texture of the scallop but I thought the sweetness and acidity from the sauce was too overwhelming. To be honest, I've never liked a raw scallop dish; I've tried it three times at three reputable restaurants and I've never liked it so maybe the problem is me and not the actual dish.


Second arrival was the chargrilled carrots with burnt aubergine, miso and walnut pesto (£6). This dish was absolutely divine! I loved the flavour of the charred surface and the caramelisation that came with the sweetness of the carrot. The burnt aubergine blew my mind with its intense smoky flavour and the pesto was pleasantly earthy. I've never had such a good vegetarian dish. Well done chefs!


Next up was the Spanish Breakfast with patatas bravas and chorizo (£7). The flavours in every bite were intense at first but nicely subsided after a few seconds. The dish was generally light and delicate and I liked the playful combination of the cream and the spicy tomato.


The 40 day aged sirloin steak with chimmichurri dressing (£14) was up next and boy was it glorious! The steak had a superb texture, the right amount of juiciness and a subtle sweetness. This all went really well with the chimmichurri which was the bomb. Overall, I think it was the best dish of the evening.


We tried the Jamon, manchego and quail's eggs (£6) next. This wasn't on the same majestic level as everything else we tried but it was a cracker of a sandwich! There was a nice crisp richness from the manchego, complimenting the salty jamon and the delicately buttered toast. This combination of flavours couldn't possibly go wrong.


We finished off with the chocolate tart with Madagascan vanilla cream (£5). It was very simple but executed with excellence. As I expected, the tart was very rich and earthy with the cream only adding an extra layer of goodness. At this point, I thought it was identical to the chocolate flan I had at Polpetto. The only difference which was quite significant was the presence of a thin and buttery layer of pastry at the bottom.


In general, I would say I was very impressed by Social Wine and Tapas (as I usually am with all Jason Atherton restaurants). Atherton continues to amaze me with how his growing collection of restaurants each inhabit a different enticing atmosphere, but all share the characteristic of consistency in the high level of execution and quality.

That being said, what sets Social Wine and Tapas apart is the really good prices. All that food came down to £25 per person; it really doesn't get better than that!

Details:
39 James St
London
W1U 1DL

£25-35pp

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