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Square Meal Review of Little Social ?

It’s directly opposite the mighty Pollen Street Social, but Jason Atherton’s ‘absolutely brilliant’ sibling inhabits a very different world indeed. Brush through the heavy red curtain and you’re immediately in a humming Parisian cocoon overseen by ‘utterly charming’, aproned staff with French accents and confident smiles; close-packed rustic tables, ox-blood banquettes, Michelin maps and prints set the mood perfectly as the good times begin. Meanwhile, the kitchen raises the bistro bar by serving up intricate, earthy flavours for big-city palates – from bowls of spoon-licking Jerusalem artichoke risotto studded with curried sweetbreads to roast cod with cannellini beans, fennel, morteau sausage and girolles. Atherton’s kitchens are always blindingly good on desserts, and this is no exception – we adore the brown-sugar tart with crème-fraîche sorbet and black-sesame crumble. The racy French wine list is a persuasive seducer, or you can perch at the bar with a cocktail and imagine you’re on the Boulevard Saint-Michel.

Wine List of the Year Award Finalist

This Parisian-style bistro across the road from the main Pollen St restaurant is a good example of condensation, with fewer than 50 wines, half by the glass/carafe. It’s heavily French, but there are still flashes of quirkiness alongside the classics, it looks great and it’s easy to follow.


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  1. Published : Wednesday, 26 March 2014

    Drifting Epicure :: Little Social

    Little Social is a cozy restaurant tucked into a quiet alley in Mayfair with Regent Street only a stone throw away. It opened up its doors last year in March just opposite to its Michelin starred sibling Pollen Street Social and has been quite well received. In recent years the success of Jason Atherton, the founder, has given birth to more restaurants in London and abroad in Hong Kong, Shanghai and Singapore. He has previously worked for heavyweights such as Pierre Koffmann, Marco Pierre White, Nico Ladenis and Ferran Adria.

    We went to Little Social on a fully seated Tuesday evening which meant a wait of about half an hour for a table. Meanwhile bar seats were offered for a drink...
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  1. Published : Wednesday, 12 February 2014

    Munch My Way :: Little Social, Mayfair

    Little Social is owned by the famous chef Jason Atherton.

    The decor of the place is like the swinging 50s with copper bar top and leather red dining booths and dark wood.

    The food here is an eclectic mix of French and British dishes but focusing on locally produced products...
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  1. Published : Wednesday, 5 February 2014

    Wrap Your Lips Around This :: Little Social

    Jason Atherton breeds restaurants at a rate that would make even the most virile of bunnies blush. Since opening Pollen Street Social, he has gone on to launch Little Social, Social Eating House and Berners Tavern. With each restaurant opening, Atherton has thwarted the derision of critics and bloggers alike. Given this almost unanimous seal of approval, expectations for Little Social are high.

    In the first instance, these expectations are fully met in a buttery artichoke risotto. The voluptuous plumes of cream and carbohydrate are gummy and toothsome, festooned with curried sweetbreads, pickled chanterelle and rocket. This layering of texture is echoed in a parsnip veloute, which is poured over slow-cooked egg, crouton and wild mushroom. Rupturing the swollen egg releases a ribbon of velvety yolk, thickening the mouthfeel of the veloute. This is comfort food at its plushest and most dependable...
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  1. Kramer, listen to me. I'm never gonna have a child. If I lose this Frogger high score, that's it for me George Costanza (Seinfeld episode “The Frogger”) My new visit searching for a burger was to Little Social. Jason Atherton’s place, the same Jason of Pollen Street Social. Head chef Cary Docherty runs a Parisian little bistro, hide in the small Pollen street in London. Refined, cozy and peaceful, oak and red velvet boots, a decent size bar where you can eat, Michelin maps, and some old pictures complete the atmosphere. The placeInsideWe started with Raw Orkney scallops, delicate flavour, the avocado purée was beautiful, a great start with nice flavour profile. ScallopsThe burger in question is an aged Scottish beef, bacon, cheese, and caramelised onions. You can add pan-fried foie gras, and as I’m greedy I couldn’t resist. Here comes the burgerNot so littleThe verdict, amazing, perfect execution, the melted cheese, the fattiness of the foie and the crispy bacon, a great combinationThe damage, 25 quid for the burger with the additional foie gras and fries The conclusion, the burger is worth every quid. Amazing flavour, the place is a gem, and the food is exquisite. Fries were perfect as well, crispy out and soft in. I have to say perfect score for Jason & Cary’s burger 10 over 10Burger timeLittle SocialT: 020 7870 3730French BistroApprox Damage: £55ppArea: MayfairBorough: City of WestminsterTwitter: carydochertyView Larger Map  |  Get Directions  |  View Bird's Eye
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  1. This sits bang opposite Pollen Street Social, the mothership, but it’s really quite other. Aiming to recreate the feel of an old Parisian bistro, this is intimate and cosy – very different to the glitz, light and noise across the road.

    As you walk in, a long and narrow room, with a number of ox-blood leather banquettes on the right hand side of the bar. The clients were already ensconced and I slid in. I knew within about three seconds that I could, nay would, slide off the edge. Not due to the size of my backside, though that doesn’t help, but because it was one of those very slippery leather seats which, combined with slippery clothes and alcohol, meant it wasn’t going to end well...
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  1. Published : Monday, 28 October 2013

    The Food Judge :: Little Social – I can be, sometimes.

    This sits bang opposite Pollen Street Social, the mothership, but it’s really quite other. Aiming to recreate the feel of an old Parisian bistro, this is intimate and cosy – very different to the glitz, light and noise across the road.

    As you walk in, a long and narrow room, with a number of ox-blood leather banquettes on the right hand side of the bar. The clients were already ensconced and I slid in. I knew within about three seconds that I could, nay would, slide off the edge. Not due to the size of my backside, though that doesn’t help, but because it was one of those very slippery leather seats which, combined with slippery clothes and alcohol, meant it wasn’t going to end well...
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  1. Published : Tuesday, 26 March 2013

    Sybaricious :: Little Social

    Little Social is the latest venture from Jason Atherton of Pollen Street Social fame and is conveniently located right over the road at 5 Pollen Street. Other than the inevitable "foodie" Twitter buzz, the launch of Little Social has been comparatively quiet. When I booked it had no website and the phone line was shared with Pollen St Social (I see a basic website  and menu has now gone up). None of the crazy overhyping seen from some other recent new openings. From my experience I found it rather unfair of Gillian Orr in the Independent to make negative comparisons regarding inaccessibility and overhype with places like Bubbledogs and Balthazar. I called Little Social on a Tuesday and got a Saturday table in the first week of opening without any problem. That's two bonus points above Flat Iron for starters 1) they take reservations and 2) they deign to speak to their customers on the telephone. It seems that the intention is that Little Social will be a more laid back affair than its Pollen Street sibling and will aim to offer a traditional French bistro style experience. Dangerous perhaps from more than one perspective. We've already had the likes of Giles Coren in the last couple of weeks lambasting Balthazar for transplanting an American interpretation of French casual dining over to London. Dangerous also because simple food is often the easiest to go wrong with. Traditional French bistro fare sounds so easy in theory, steak and chips, ham hock terrine, these are all classic, French basics, but its amazing how one little blip leaves them utterly wrong. Perhaps the reason they are so tricky to get spot on is due to their very simplicity- there is nowhere to hide. One slip up, a soggy chip or a slightly overdone pastry and the whole thing is effectively ruined.  Cocktails are excellent, original and beautifully served. At around £12-14 each they aren't the cheapest but I guess that's becoming the standard West End price bracket. We tried and liked an "Au Pear" - (Domaine De Canton ginger liqueur, spiced pear puree & fresh lemon juice topped with champagne served in a champagne glass) and an "Ever the Diplomat"- (Diplomatico rum, coffee liqueur, house vanilla syrupand espresso) Essentially a posh ginger pear bellini and a posh rum espresso martini.                     The wine list is really very disappointing. We had called ahead and asked about corkage rates as a friend had a bottle of Ch. Palmer that "needed drinking" but were told resolutely that outside bottles are not permitted even to those willing to pay to bring wines that have no comparable offering on the house wine list. Fair enough but if that's your policy then you had better have a damned good wine list and they just don't.  If I'm buying off a restaurant list then I'm not looking for anything fancy but at £29 a bottle the Costiere de Nimes was a little too young and lacking in punch or depth. It didn't even have enough tannin or acidity to promise more in the future. Would be a tenner retail and wouldn't be worth that.Taking a look at their sparkling offerings and other than a cider the cheapest sparkling is a "Vincent Gaudron 'Vouvray Extra Dry' non vintage" at £9 a glass or a whopping £52 a bottle. I wanted to find out a bit more about this sparkling "NV" Vouvray that is worth charging more than most house champagnes on London wine lists and this is where I came a cropper. There is a Domaine Sylvain Gaudron and there is a Monsieur Vincent Raimbaut who both produce named vintage year sparkling Vouvrays that retail at around £10 - 13 a bottle. There is also one Mr Vincent Gaudron who is manager/trainer of Limoges Football Club who is nothing, to the best of Google's knowledge to do with winemaking. It's also the case that the vast majority of sparkling Vouvray wines do give a vintage year, it is for the most part only those at the very cheapest end of the spectrum (Under £10 retail) that are listed as NV. So I remain completely unsure what you would be getting for your £52 at Little Social and think I would want to before splashing that kind of cash.We started by sharing a pig's head and foie gras terrine served with toasted sourdough bread and a prune and green tea relish. This was really delicious, a generous sized portion and worth its circa £11. The pig's head element was really meaty and flavoursome with a generous, thick vein of mi-cuit foie gras running through the centre as well as sweet prune.  The relish was tasty also although any green tea flavour struggled to make itself heard over the fruity prune. A good start.Bavette- frites is £15 whilst sirloin is £26 and having tried both there is no contest. I actually found the bavette tastier and would have saved nine quid to boot. Good quality meat cooked beautifully. Don't get me wrong the sirloin is also excellent but the bavette is so good its hard to justify the extra to myself for the sirloin.It was this at this point that we hit our only major stumbling block of the meal. The fries. Sure they look pretty enough, nice and crisp on the outside and fluffy on the inside but take a closer look at that picture and you'll see just how much salt was on them. We tossed them to see if it was just on the top but no, throughout these were some very salty chips indeed. The maitre d' did oblige by exchanging them but to be honest the new ones were pretty high on the salt scale too. In addition the house salad was incredibly salty, weird as there was no discernable dressing other than oil on there. What does deserve a very honourable mention however is the bearnaise sauce. All steaks are offered with the choice of bearnaise or peppercorn sauce and I'm so glad we chose the former (although the latter may be excellent who knows?!)  A wonderfully rich, creamy bearnaise: gelatinous and gloopy enough for a big old blob to grab each chip and coat it in tarragon wonderfulness without dripping off. Superb stuff. On the non meat side the a la carte offered a roast cod fillet served with cabbage pesto and clams popped on top of some borlotti beans and squid. Definitely the lighter option on the menu but cooked tremendously well (and not too much salt!)The decor of Little Social is fabulous, very different from its light and airy, modern art smattered older sibling over the road. Here it is all about cosy and warm (which was utterly welcome on a snowy Saturday) Squished elbow to elbow with your neighbour on a leather banquette, warmed by a early 20th c style lamp, you felt as though you could have been in the dining carriage of a Belle Epoque steam train flying through the French countryside.  This sentiment was emphasised by the vintage Michelin roadmaps papering the wall down to the kitchens as well as the Art nouveau style French tourism posters. Clichéd? Maybe slightly, but lovely nonetheless.  21st century take on the old Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité?! And so to dessert. I love tarte tatin. Apples so slowly roasted in rich, sticky, dark brown caramel that they are teetering on the verge of collapsing into a glorious compote. Topped off with buttery soft pastry just waiting to fall apart in your mouth. This tarte tatin was without any exaggeration THE most perfect specimen I have ever tasted outside of France and definitely the best one in the last decade. The day I visited it was listed on the specials to share for two but I hope beyond all hope that it makes it onto the permanent menu as this tarte would be reason alone enough to return. Served alongside it is a double cream ice cream that is more impactful in the idea of extreme extravagance it represents rather than in flavour. If you are someone that pours liberal amounts of cream on desserts then you would love it. Presently seemingly ubiquitous on all London menus, rhubarb shows its face at Little Social also. This time in the form of a poached rhubarb Eton mess with rhubarb sorbet. The mouthful that I tried of this dessert was fab. Tangy sorbet just sweet enough not to make your face shiver squished in with crumbs of super sweet meringue. The rhubarb itself lurid pink and poached to perfection. I would normally avoid Eton mess due to it being very creamy but the cream was present only in the form of a scoop of very heavy clotted cream. A bright green mint oil drizzled over the dish made for both a welcome colour and flavour contrast.  To make up for the salty main course the sommelier very kindly brought us a glass of Riesling Spatlese. Just sweet enough to make it onto the dessert wine list whilst light with a gentle sparkle. Definitely the wine highlight of the meal and usually a reasonable £6.50 a glass.Although it couldn't be more different in style from Pollen Street Social, service is great in both and both have a clear place in London's myriad of dining styles and options.In short; sharpen up the drinks list on the price, accuracy and variety fronts, sort the salt levels and Little Social would make a welcome bolthole hidden away just off the shopping madness of weekend Regent Street. Somewhere, in these austere times, that would appear nice enough to clients whilst being sensible and not overly grandiose. That said its not cheap. Two and a bit course lunch came in at £210 for 3- mainly due to the cocktails but nonetheless, eek! yes, by taking a 2 course prix fixe lunch with one glass of house wine you could have come out with a bill of just over £30 with service but you really would have been stinting. Desserts are fanastic and perfect just the way they are. Got the makings of something very good indeed.Little Social5 Pollen StreetMayfairLondonTel: 0207 870 3730
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  1. Published : Wednesday, 20 March 2013

    Culinary Creep :: Little Social, Mayfair

    I was lucky enough to attend the preview night at Jason Atherton’s newly opened venture; Little Social. Taking its inspiration from French Brasseries, with deep burgundy leather seating, the space is cozy, intimate, and a place you can very easily while away with a couple of bottles of wine...
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  1. Published : Saturday, 23 March 2013

    Bears Bites :: Little Social

    Jason Atherton’s latest restaurant Little Social opened it’s doors on Monday so fellow food blogger Ed aka rocketandsquash and I went down to check it out.     Understated from the outside with no big sign to indicate that you have arrived, which saw me frantically searching around making sure that I had got the right...
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  1. Published : Friday, 26 April 2013

    The Hedonist :: Little Social – Review

    But now as part of the new wave of French joints opening in town (see our reviews of Zedel, Chabrot and Garnier) we have Little Social, le petit bistro brother of The Hedonist’s fave-Jason Atherton’s Pollen St. Social, handily placed over the road from his home base in a site that housed a short-lived and often empty Italian restaurant. Now I may have a fickle heart but I know when it’s love at first sight. So if Balthazar is Katie Boyle, then Little Social is Juliette Greco. If you don’t get it go and read another blog!...
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  1. Published : Friday, 9 August 2013

    Samphire and Salsify :: Little Social

    We kicked things off during a recent trip to London with a visit to one Michelin star restaurant Medlar for Saturday lunch. A steal at 2 courses for £25 or 3 courses for £30. We noticed a good mix of meat and seafood dishes on the menu. Mr Nom found it quite hard to decide between the duck egg tart with red wine sauce, turnip puree, lardons and sautéed duck heart or the sea bream carpaccio with sauce vierge, tempura prawn, seaweed and cucumber. It was a lovely looking restaurant with “ox-blood banquets” and booth seating. It all felt very French; framed French posters hung on every inch of the walls and there was a tres French CD playing in the background. We half expected the waiter to come out wearing a beret and comedy moustache!...
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  1. An Italian Restaurant aptly named Pollen Street Social, Atherton's flagship restaurant that he established after leaving Maze and the Gordon Ramsay fold. Pollen Street Social registers on the upper end of the scale. It'€™s fine dining through and through with a one-Michelin star to boot...
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