Social Wine & Tapas is the latest addition to Jason Atherton‘s growing empire of restaurants. It’s a wine shop and tapas restaurant in Marylebone and a slick welcome breath-of-fresh-air on the rather touristy and chain-laden James Street.
The jamon selection (£15) is such good value for money as you get to try all of the cured meats on offer: Iberico bellota, lomo, chorizo, salchichon and serrano. The bellota is really good but the lomo is my favourite.
The Szechuan fried chipirones (£6.5) seemed like a play on the Eats meets West theme. The seasoning was a salty concoction of spices including my favourite Japanese togarashi whilst the dipping sauce was a creamy squid ink aioli. I honestly didn’t care much about the aioli (which tasted a bit bland) but the baby squid itself was beautifully crunchy and moreish.
We had to have the seafood & rabbit Spanish rice (£9) if only to compare it to Barrafina’s stunning arroz de marisco. Social’s rice is a bit more moist and the smokiness is less intense, but it’s still a very delicious dish packed with flavour. There’s enough seafood to keep every mouthful substantial and exciting, too.
The roasted sea bream (£9.5) hit high marks for me. It was moist and cooked perfectly with the fish flaking off beautifully with each forkful. The piperrada was vibrant and had a wonderful balance of sweetness and tang which worked well with the bream.
We ended our mains with the sliders (£12) which had rose veal & foie gras patties and a bit of pulled pork. This was served with some guac and pickled cucumber condiments.
Though the foie gras flavour was lost to me, the meat was rather juicy and I thought it would make a good proper burger. Nevermind the meatsweat and calories!
I forgot to take a photo of the wines we tried (so here’s a photo of your numbnuts-next-shore instead) which is truly unfortunate as the place has a really fantastic, extensive wine list put together by Jason’s chief sommelier Laure Patry. The wine flights are reasonably priced and I highly recommend that you try either the Chardonnay or the Syrah vins. Oh, and if you’re unsure about what to order, ask the waiting staff – they’re all trained sommeliers!
Nothing much screamed to me on the dessert menu (although looking at Lauren’s roast milk soft serve makes me want to kick myself for not ordering ice cream!) so we opted for the marscapone ice cream with strawberries (£6.5) to push for the last of Summer. This was so fresh and so good.