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|Address:||58-59 Poland Street, London W1F 7NR|
|Tel:||020 7993 3251|
|Price: £52.00||Wine: £24.00||Champagne: £70.00|
|Opening Hours:||Mon-Sat 12N-2.30pm 5.30pm-10.30pm|
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If you've ever dreamed of opening your own restaurant, give up now. Jason Atherton has won. Social Eating House is just about perfect.
Granted, it's not fine dining – there are no tablecloths and there's an awful lot of covers. But as a lively, sexy, indulgent metropolitan restaurant, it is streets ahead of everywhere else.
There's a deep understanding of how to make food theatrical and fun. We shared jars of cod brandade and spiced aubergine – you have to pick the jars up to scrape out the very last bits of tasty goodness: they have been designed to be shared, talked about and fought over. With our ‘wild mushrooms on toast’, the mushrooms turned up in a clear plastic bag which was snipped open at the table (they’d been steaming in clarified butter) and the toast (which was smeared with fabulous cep paste) was served alongside in a little rack. For the immaculate raviolo of wild boar, one waiter brought the plate and another added dried hearts and kidneys from a large pepper grinder.
The menu is long without being tediously so, and every dish sounds appealing; most feature a lesser known ingredient or two, and a flavour combination you’ve not seen before. You could eat lunch here every day for a week and not be bored. And as with Little Social, the desserts are a highlight: as delicate and sophisticated as the best places in the capital.
Service wasn’t totally polished but that is because it was only their fifth night of opening. To have got the place to this level in such a short time is staggering. The calibre of the senior people on the floor was very high so I would bet that in a short space of time it will all be spot on.
Prices are high for this category of restaurant (a tenner a starter, a score for a main), but I’m not even sure any more what category this place belongs in. It certainly does not fit the Michelin spectrum that we’re all comfortable with. It’s too fun and informal to be recognised properly on the stars score.
In fact the informality is such that you wouldn’t take the in-laws here, unless they were fans of Ladyhawke and The XX (there’s a soundsystem), nor would it be right for a suited-and-booted business meeting (neither the room nor the food are sufficiently conservative). But for virtually every other possible reason to eat out, Social Eating House is unassailable. Except, of course, for the name: it’s rubbish.