I learned of a fellow called Jason Atherton not too long before I was due to visit Shanghai. He had opened a new restaurant in London called City Social, and upon further research, I discovered that he had what appeared to be a near-global empire of restaurants. My trip in 2014 spanned three countries, and thus began my own journey to sample the Social chain.
I was full of curiosity about the presence of a Western restaurant in Shanghai. Sure, it’s the international hub of China, but society and culture there caused me concern about the restaurant’s consistency and success – in a way it was a great opportunity to begin benchmarking restaurants and service levels around the world. The restuarant was an open courtyard, and in a preliminary visit before actually going, we were advised that the food portions were very small – but luckily I had known that already, it being fancy and tapas style, so I was prepared. The downside was, I had never ordered tapas style food for more than four people, so it became awkward when we were dividing tiny portions into six! I should have doubled all the orders, and that would have been enough.