SquareMeal Review of Social Eating House
A perennial favourite with SquareMeal readers (and staff), Jason Atherton’s buzzy Soho outpost is at the heart of the capital’s ‘fun-dining’ scene. Laid-back, stylish and “reliably delicious”, it’s the antithesis of stuffy haute cuisine despite its Michelin-starred status.
The interior resembles a smart steakhouse, complete with deep booths, chalkboards, bare tables and seats at the counter, although the beauty of the place is its flexibility. You can pop in for a charcoal-grilled Cumbrian rump steak and a bottle of Burgundy or opt for chef-patron Paul Hood’s chef’s table (“an amazing experience”) with accompanying wine flights.
We opted for something in between – a three-course feast with wines chosen by the charming sommelier – and were mightily impressed. Devon crab came prettily dressed with chive flowers and accompanied by brown crab mayonnaise and an almond gazpacho that set the whole dish off perfectly.
Broccoli, meanwhile, was given a five-star makeover for a mouth-watering vegan starter good enough to tempt even the most committed carnivore. Paired with lemon puree, almond and a wild garlic and hazelnut pesto, it was an explosion of flavours – sweet, smoky, sharp and oh-so-moreish.
We were also bowled over by a combo of turbot with ceps, pearl barley and a rich mushroom tea, and a dish of miso aubergine with silky burnt aubergine puree, bursts of tamarind, fine beans and creamy coconut that made it almost dessert-like.
To round things off, we delved into a flawless self-saucing chocolate pudding accompanied by a zingy passion-fruit ice cream, and a sort-of fine dining Eton mess with black olive, black pepper and lemon balm. It sounds weird, but it worked exceedingly well.
The impressively curated wine list seeks out something different (the sommelier introduced us to a refreshing bin from Cyprus), while service is “excellent” without being obtrusive. We’d also recommend heading upstairs to the Blind Pig bar for a pre- or post-prandial cocktail. “My favourite place in London!” concludes one impressed reader – and they’re not alone.
About Social Eating House
Following the unprecedented success of his first solo venture Pollen Street Social, which achieved Michelin-star status in less than six months, world-renowned chef Jason Atherton went onto open Social Eating House, a more relaxed setting where diners can enjoy the same top-quality British food for which he has become known.
The restaurant, which was awarded a Michelin star in 2013, is located in the heart of Soho and is influenced by the buzziness of this vibrant area of London. Low-lit interiors with exposed brickwork, traditional white-washed copper ceilings and weathered leather banquette seating give the space a cosy and intimate ambience whilst the friendly and relaxed service add to the informal atmosphere.
Social Eating House is split across three floors with the popular Blind Pig cocktail bar on the first floor, the restaurant at street level and an exclusive chef’s counter dining space in the basement overlooking the open kitchen.
The kitchen is helmed by chef patron Paul Hood who has worked closely with Jason Atherton over the last decade. The duo have collaborated to create and develop dishes on the contemporary bistro menu that showcase both chefs’ personal styles of cooking while celebrating the very best seasonal and locally sourced produce.
Starters from the ever-changing a la carte menu could include roasted foie gras, sesame-dressed vegetable salad, salted kombu kelp, pickled ginger and a bonito dashi; or Scottish scallop ceviche with smoked avocado, raw artichoke, sunflower seeds and horseradish.
From the main courses, highlights include slow-cooked Cornish venison loin, spiced red cabbage, salsify olive oil mash and candied walnuts; and roasted Cornish day-boat brill with cep, pearl barley, chipirones, charred baby leek and mushroom tea.
Finally, for something sweet, temptations include a caramelised milk tart with ginger wine gel, fromage frais sorbet and almond crack; or an autumn berry “cheesecake”, with blackcurrant sorbet, blackcurrant curd, and star anise.