Social wine and tapas: glimpse of Atherton
Social Wine and Tapas is the tapas restaurant and wine shop of the starred chef (and business man) Jason Atherton.
Business man because Atherton with its 45 years managed to follow the steps of his mentor, chef Gordon Ramsey, capitalizing his talent and succeeding in expanding the boundaries of its cuisine beyond London.
Indeed, Atherton is owner of 8 restaurants in 3 continents and 5 cities (Dubai, Hong Kong, Shanghai, NYC, Cebu, Sidney), to be added to the 9 spread across London (all of them opened after 2010), including Pollen Street Social that granted him the Michelin star award in the first year after opening.
Social Wine and Tapas opened in 2015.
The wine shop is located on the ground floor of the restaurant and it is mostly focused on French bottles with small excursions on the most popular grapes from the rest of the world.
Nothing to say on the quality of the selection but considering the ability of Laure Patry (Atherton started working with her when they were respectively Executive Chef and Head Sommelier at Gordon Ramsey's Maze), I would have expected a more hazardous and less commercial list.
The food menu, in tapas style, ranges from small bites to mid-size dishes.
While the first ones simply replicate some classics of the Spanish tradition (ham croquettes, bread with tomato - up-scaled version of the original one -, bread and olive oil, iberico de bellota) without a real spark and not succeeding in offering an Iberian escape to the guests, the second ones are a better demonstration of Atherton capabilities.
Overall, better meat and vegetables than fish and seafood with the exception of the oyster in tempura served with a dill and oyster dill: beautiful presentation, great execution and texture, good balance with dill and sauce not too greasy.
The other fish dishes were a bit too light in taste and/or overwhelmed by other ingredients in the plate, often resulting in a too accentuated sweet note: it's the case of the curried cod with cauliflower and raisins or the squid with chilli and piquillo peppers - better smell than taste - or the braised octopus with tomato sauce and roasted chorizo piperade.
Among the veggies, a special mention goes to the broccolini, served with chilli, lemon and capers: very simple, light and fresh with a nice persistent lemon taste and just a pinch of chilli to spice it up. The truffle burrata would deserve it too thanks to the interesting combination truffle/apple but the broccolini were superior in their simplicity.
Do not miss the roasted suckling pig, accompanied by morcilla croquette and 'watered' by apple-cider caramel: excellent! Crusty skin and tender meat.. the fat is 'cleaned' by the apple-cider sauce that does not result sweet but closes the dish.
PS. If you are in a group of 4/6 try to book the table on the ground floor (on the left from the entrance). It is the only table on the floor and it is like reserving a private space surrounded by wine bottles, travel books and wine regions maps!