City Social – 06 September 2014

City Social was Jason Atherton’s newest restaurant at the time, and its opening was the reason I found out about it at all. Now I’m gonna globetrot in his path! Or something. I was really glad to have visited; shortly after my dining experience here, this place was awarded a Michelin Star. I’m really starting to enjoy visiting restaurants where I have no expectations, because when it delivers, it’s amazing. It was definitely a fantastic experience!

Early dining really does have its benefits. We were one of the first customers for a 6PM booking, and we were placed at a window table. The waiter mentioned that he’d seen my brother’s camera and so seated us facing the Gherkin. My brother was secretly hoping for a view of the Shard, but this wasn’t bad at all.

I generally don’t order white wines, but this was my first time trying out a white Burgundy. I think I like my reds better.

Guinea fowl and truffle terrine, parfait, crispy skin, sourdough

We didn’t take long to order our food, and when it came it, it was certainly Atherton style presentation – it looked similar to that of Commune Social, which is a good thing, because it means I should be able to spot out a chef’s preferred plating technique! I believe this is the first time I’ve sampled guinea fowl too. What a tasty terrine!

Heirloom tomatoes, burrata, olive

I am such a sucker for burrata, especially when it’s used in an interpretation (well not so much in this case) of a caprese salad. I love the simplicity of this dish.

Beetroot cured mackerel, betroot, goat cheese sorbet

This was quite an interesting dish as I’d not had beetroot cured anything before, and I’ve also never had fish and beetroot together. It was definitely a very interesting combination, though I will never, ever get my head around goat dairy. I will always choose it but I will never entirely like it – but I will always appreciate it!

Grouse with roast parsnip

As soon as I heard that they had a grouse as their special, I ordered it straight away. I love eating things that are different, and lucky for me, it was game season. I had no idea what to expect, and it was certainly something I wasn’t prepared for. My initial reaction was that it was bitter, and that I didn’t like it, and it had an odd smell to it. Having never had something this… wild before, I was surprised at just how gamey it was. I guess gamey is a flavour? Eventually I got used to it and my brain began to acknowledge that the flavours weren’t at all like my first impression. It was super tender though and cooked perfectly, so I understood the dish to be delicious even though my brain couldn’t process the taste! I would definitely recommend this to anyone who loves to try new things!

The waiter also let me know that there may have been a bullet in the meat and to be careful – but alas, no special souvenir! Though in retrospect it was probably for the better since it may have been flagged at airport security had I found and chosen to keep it.

Whole lobster, duck fat chips and choron sauce

When there’s a whole lobster on the menu, my brother says yes! When there’s also a nutcracker involved, hilarity ensues. Super tasty but cumbersome, as we found out when another table ended up with shell flying everywhere, then my brother managed to knock a piece further along the floor, leading to a puzzled waiter wondering where all the shell bits came from as he picked them up from the floor. Or something like that. This story has definitely been modified with faulty memory!

White peach parfait with raspberries, and raspberry basil sorbet

Mr Atherton also seems to like basil in his desserts – and I love this too! So much so that I’m considering making orange basil sorbet. This was beautiful and tasty, and had several elements to it – including fresh and freeze dried raspberries, raspberry meringue and raspberry sauce. I need to be this inventive when making desserts!

Black forest cherries, Valrhona chocolate sponge, cherry sorbet

Rich, delicious chocolate in a blackforest setting. I’m glad my brother chose this because I liked my dessert better, but when Valrhona is being used, it’s a must have.

Our petit fours were little salted caramel chocolates. I also ordered an earl grey tea to finish off the night.

Other highlights in this dinner included a moment when a table near us got a little rowdy, and immediately there were two to three staff attending the table to make sure things were okay and settled. It turns out a lady was just a little drunk and in a conversation about the Gherkin, if I recall correctly. I was glad it was mostly harmless. There was also a moment when we were paying our bill, that one of the waiters asked about PIN versus signature, then for some reason I decided to reference Rockpool, and lo and behold, it turns out he had actually worked there not too long ago, but left before it moved to Bridge Street. What a small world!

It was a great nice and a great experience, and I would love to come back here. I think each city should have a few must-revisit places, and this would be one of them for me. Their dessert menu is just amazing! Plus, it’s a great place to take people who’ve never seen London from above.