I had heard mixed reviews about City Social. Michael, one of my food obsessed friends loved it but some of my girlfriends didn’t like it at all (to be fair, they went shortly after it opened). To be honest, I started feeling lazy that afternoon to go to East London and almost cancelled as I was worried the menu would be too similar to Berners Tavern (http://www.bernerstavern.com/) as they are both Jason Atherton’s places. I would say City Social’s food is less fussy and simpler, in a good way.
Thankfully, we decided to go as my mother was in town and felt like we (as dutifully good kids) should take her to one of the hottest new spots . I was also worried it would be another restaurant with a nice view but weak food and service like we recently experienced at Hutong. Thankfully, I was totally wrong.
City Social is on the 24th floor of Tower 42 and even though your entry, hallway experience won’t blow you away and may confuse you, the bar and restaurant are both lovely and the view is 270 degrees and stunning.
The drinks are also not the same ones you find at Social Eating House and Berners and the waiter who helped us was excited about the drinks and very knowledgeable (he looked like he could be from Portland with a big beard and hipster look – which usually indicates good bar menu insights).
Our service experience was very very good but for some reason, Adam, who was one of the managers, took us under his wings and made sure throughout the meal we were having a great dinner. Unfortunately, Jason Atherton hires him to help with the openings and then he goes back to his normal job of teaching hospitality – which he must be fantastic at based on our dinner.
What we ate:
Goat’s cheese churros with truffle honey: the lovely manager Adam brought us a portion to try and they were absolutely divine. Fresh out of the fryer. Perfectly crunchy outside and soft inside like a good churro should be. The goat cheese was blended into the batter which added a lovely flavor and made it lighter. My mother can’t eat sugar so couldn’t enjoy the truffle honey which was a perfect pairing with the churros – but they were very good plain too…..
Yellow fin tuna tataki, cucumber salad, radish, avocado and ponzu dressing: this dish was so gorgeous but also so interesting and tasty. The tataki was just seared on the outside and red inside. The avocado came in a mousse/puree form in dollops around the plate that added an amazing creaminess and much needed fatiness to balance the lean tuna.
Smoked Scottish salmon with celeriac spaghetti, fennel, horseradish yogurt: the waitress brought this dish in two different serving plates. The celeriac spaghetti was on one plate and the salmon was hidden in a wooden box. She first unveiled the salmon and then placed it on the celeriac. This was truly perfection and the best salmon dish I have tried in ages. The salmon melted in our mouth and had a gorgeous hint of smokiness but in an understated sophisticated way. The horseradish yogurt was on the side and was lovely (we ate some on bread once we devoured the salmon) – MUST EAT!!
Potato gnocchi, peas, girolles, lettuces, spring onions, almond purée, black garlic: after the salmon, I didn’t think anything could be as good and was blown away with the gnocchi. They were not your traditional shape and were a bit longer and pan fried, which added a nice crunch to the exterior. The flavors just danced together on the place to the tunes of a very spring inspired song. – MUST EAT!!
Middle white pork loin and braised belly, girolles, black pudding, cider gel: there were two cuts of pork on the plate – the fattier one was amazing, succulent and delicious while the other cut was too lean and a bit dry. The black pudding was very tasty and the cider gel had a very interesting (which usually means odd but in this case means good) and tasted fresh and light.
Roasted Lincolnshire rabbit saddle, rabbit sausage cassoulet, wild garlic leaves: another very tasty dish but the one criticism is that it was a bit on the small portion side. But the rabbit saddle and sausage were delicious and the asparagus were al-dente and yummy. The cassoulet was pureed and dusted with bread crumbs which added a great crunchy texture to the dish.
The only thing missing on this otherwise great menu was a very tempting dessert. The only chocolate offering was a white chocolate mousse which doesn’t qualify as chocolate in my book. So, we decided to have liquid dessert instead. Adam told me when we were leaving that the chef is developing a chocolate dessert which will be added soon.
Brown bread infused rum, banana, condensed milk, “Supermalt” syrup, milk carton, candy stripe: yummmm, totally delicious, not too thick, boozy with a nice banana taste.
In Sum: if you don’t try the salmon app and the gnocchi, you are a fool! Stewart loved our meal so much that he booked a return visit for a week later when we were leaving. He went there last night and said he had a great time on his boys night out and that the restaurant was very buzzy and fun (the night we went, it had a nice ambiance but was not hopping).
City Social London http://citysociallondon.com/
Tower 42 25 Old Broad Street London, EC2N 1HQ