Jason Atherton and Restaurant Associates are on a high, on so many levels. This year their City Social in London EC2 celebrates 10 years as a Michelin Star restaurant. Chef Paul Walsh, who has worked closely with Jason Atherton, has curated a fabulous new British menu to commemorate a successful decade.
City Social’s location on the 24th floor of Tower 42 on Old Broad St, London EC2 means diners get to see a part of London replete with towering buildings that decorate the skyline. At any table at City Social, you get to see these skyscrapers head-on.
It is a heady perspective when seen through floor-to-ceiling windows that hem the contours of the restaurant. Tables are placed on two levels to ensure everyone has a view. From my table, the magnificent Gherkin looked so close that we could almost touch it.
There is a bit of a luxury private member’s vibe to the Michelin-starred City Social restaurant. Floor-to-ceiling windows follow the curve of City Social restaurant and bar enclosing a handsome art-deco setting of dark wood, dark floors, tanned leather chairs and horseshoe banquettes and dark marbled tables.
The dim lighting throws subdued shadows reflected by mirrored ceilings that seem both somber and somehow spectacular. The perfect place for shared whispers, and knowing looks.
The menu may be short but the choice is eclectic and the time spent by the staff mentoring diners on the menu is impressive.
Reluctantly passing over the Devon crab with nashi pear and the Dexter Beef tartare shimeji and miso mayonnaise, we eventually opted for the roasted Orkney scallop, confit red pepper (sourced from Spain they say), barbecued corn, yuzu to add lime and lemon flavours, and velvety roe butter sauce. This is a rather sumptuous starter.
The rabbit Ballantine (wrapped in Parma ham), came with braised mushrooms, English peas and rabbit vinaigrette. Though it didn’t take up much space on the plate this was a satisfyingly rich dish.
For the main course, we eyed up the premium cuts from the Josper Grill and the Newlyn halibut and made a note to revisit. On this occasion, we ordered the line-caught seabass, roasted salsify, sea herbs, warm roe, and cedrat beurre blanc – seabass is a rich meaty fish, with fish eggs inside the butter sauce. I loved the barbecued corn which gave a slight crunch.
Their signature dish the roasted Guinea fowl, rarely appears on a menu and it made sense to take the opportunity to order this. It came with herb and brioche stuffing, leek vinaigrette, Jersey royals, braised leg wonton and it turned out to be a deliciously gamey bird.
There really was no more room for a dessert so we shared a rather glorious elderflower and lemon parfait served with Gariguette strawberries, and a white chocolate and wild strawberry sorbet.
City Social’s wine list is extensive and the sommelier was on hand to help us pair our food and wine. With the rabbit and guinea fowl, we downed a Gevrey-Chambertin Champonnet Premier Cru Domaine du Courvent, a wine that comes from the largest wine-producing village in Burgundy’s Côte d’Or. On the palate, those velvety tannins and delicate texture made this a great coupling.
The fish dishes were paired with Bourgogne Chardonnay Maison de Montille 2016 whose notes of apple and freshness on the palate rounded everything off well.
Oh and of course, there is a bar and at some point, I am sure we had a couple of Martinis made with their absolutely delicious Sapling Vodka, their house vodka.
Verdict: City Social’s city location and fine food is a honeypot for a suited clientele with discerning tastes looking for a place to oil furtive deals. Yet, after dark, date night beckons. Surely no couple could leave without falling in love with the superbly orchestrated service, the sublime food, the unusual environment, and maybe with each other.
City Social, Tower 42, 25 Old Broad Street, London EC2
Check out the City Social menus here.