Jason Atherton’s newest outpost, Social Wine & Tapas – headed by Laure Patry – is the best tapas joint the Independent’s John Walsh has encountered outside of Spain.
“This is, basically, a very fancy wine bar with a long menu of small dishes to share while trying umpteen wines in small 125ml servings,” he says, before eulogising about the food.
Having enjoyed “an orgy of piggery jiggery-pokery: Basque-region ham croquettes resembling arancini balls, a jamon-manchega toastie with quail’s eggs (basically a croque monsieur with a touch of Brideshead), Cecina salami and fat slices of Iberico bellota”, panfried duck egg with confit leg and cassoulet “was deliciously upbeat, while chargrilled carrots with burnt aubergine, miso and walnut pesto “was stunning, the truncheon-sized carrot a miso-flavoured, nut-crunchy delight, the aubergine divine”.
When Jason Atherton, one of London’s leading restaurateurs, opens a wine bar next to Selfridges, you take notice, says Time Out’s Guy Dimond. But he feels the service doesn’t quite match up to the brilliant food, yet.
On an early inspection of Social Wine & Tapas in Marylebone, he says: “Although it’s styled as a no-bookings wine bar, everyone was tucking into full meals: a smart decision, because the food is terrific. The Josper grill sears colourful vegetable assemblies, the deep-fryer turns out a lip-puckering salt and pepper squid, and poached egg with oxtail was a triumph of texture and flavour.
“We enjoyed the food a lot, and would have ordered desserts, but we simply couldn’t face another hour of trying to flag down inattentive waiters. Let’s hope they sort out the service here soon, because the outstanding food deserves far better.”
Meanwhile, writing in the Evening Standard, David Sexton says the knock-out food at Atherton’s new venture is a delight, and proves yet again he has excelled his mentor Gordon Ramsay.
“Seafood & rabbit Spanish rice (£9) was the star, enough for a meal in itself: richly savoury rice (a fish stock?) with pieces of rabbit, more of those chipirones, some mussels, a hint of chorizo, beautifully saffron-suffused: like a paella gone to heaven and refined before being returned.
“The pièce de resistance we had to try was rose veal & foie gras burgers, pulled pork, avocado, pickled cucumber (£12): two natty little burgers, transfixed with a little skewer, sitting on a board: the different meats had been cunningly combined, the foie gras melted in for richness rather than as an identifiable separate texture, to make a micro-hamburger of delight.” Continue reading