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|Address:||24th Floor, Tower 42, 25 Old Broad Street, London EC2N 1HQ|
|Tel:||020 7877 7703|
|Price: £65.00||Wine: £24.00||Champagne: £72.00|
|Opening Hours:||Mon-Sat 12N-2.45pm 6-10.30pm|
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What makes the perfect restaurant? Perhaps it’s a simple question and perhaps it’s up there with ”Why are we here?” as one of the more complex conundrums life can throw at you – after all, if it were simple then why do so many places get it either a little, or a lot, wrong?
Fortunately Jason Atherton seems to rapidly be establishing himself as the Freud, or perhaps Jung, or the London restaurant scene, able to tackle the hard philosophical questions about the issues that matter. And so once again he delivers an experience that borders on perfection with the newest entry to his empire, City Social.
I can recall when this location held the now deceased Rhodes 24, which did go some way to belying the normal restaurant rule – the better the view the worse the overall experience. But Atherton takes that rule, stamps all over it and then grinds the remains into very small bits – here you get the view, the service, the food and even reasonably decent value for money, which makes this a fair bet at being the best new opening in ages and also instantly catapults it into being one of those places that any self respecting food lover should have on their to do list.
Rhodes 24 was a corner of the 24th floor of Tower 42, but Atherton takes the whole floor in order to have a panorama across the capital and its surroundings. Depending on where you are sat you get highlights such as the Shard, London Eye, the Gherkin and miles beyond. That view is the instant wow after you’ve come out of the private lift that speeds you to the 24th floor, then you start to take in the scale of the restaurant, its surprisingly low (and slightly reflective) ceiling, dark wood floor and tables and comfy leather seating.
The staff do their customary excellent job in showing you to the table, taking and delivering orders without fuss or mistakes. If you want extra bread that’s not a problem, want something minus one (or more) of the ingredients on the menu you don’t get told the chef knows best, or that its already made like that – they just do it without a blink. I don’t know where, or indeed how, Jason Atherton always manages to secure such high quality staff (I’ve never had a bad experience in of his restaurants any I’ve been lucky enough to have been to all his other London ventures on several occasions) but he keeps pulling that trick off and any concerns that he’s spreading himself too thinly, given the number of new openings delivered in a short period, are very rapidly assuaged.
Atmosphere was fine, tables a little close in places, but not loud, no music but certainly not stuffy and yes, you will end up taking one or more photos to post on social media or share with friends – everyone had their phone pointed at the windows at some point – you even get spectacular views from the bathrooms.
Food is, again, excellent. For the first time you get pasta and risotto as well as some favourites from Pollen Street and the customarily excellent desserts. I started with basil tagliatelle, purple and yellow sprouting broccoli, toasted pine nuts and parmesan velouté – lots of sexy spring flavours and colour packed into that dish. This was followed by a half share of the Côte de boeuf – a dish that appears in most of the other restaurants in the group and is as perfect here as elsewhere – massive portions of meltingly soft beef with perfect duck fat chips and peppercorn sauce. Dessert was Bourbon vanilla custard tart, nutmeg and milk sorbet – perfect pastry, lovely custard and another massive helping. All of this was happily washed down with shares in a bottle of red rully, a white burgundy and some pre dinner gins and vodkas.
Cost? For food, something like £65 per head, drinks then added another £40 or so a head. Clearly that’s not cheap, but for that sort of experience, food and service it’s not unreasonable.
So am I coming back? Yes absolutely, it’s instantly in my top 5 restaurants in London and delivers a convincing response to the opening question of “What makes the perfect restaurant?”