Social Eating House ★ // Soho // London

Social Eating House, Jason Atherton’s latest *1 star venture is exactly what you would expect. Hidden at the bottom of Poland Street, it’s already become a favourite Soho catch-up spot for customers that aren’t looking for a fine dining experience but still expect some above average food.

Plenty of attention has been paid to develop this new concept. The shabby chic dining room looks like a resurrected former brasserie, while cosy leather banquettes and recycled vintage cutlery are contrasted by a very lively atmosphere and some up-beat music. The swanky bathrooms have certainly had a designers touch too. Though what might surprise is that for such a boisterous on-trend establishment, the food has also been given a lot of attention.

The slow-poached hen’s egg ‘coq au vin’ is a pretty little starter, which really does recreate the flavours of the Burgundy classic, though with more elegance than the classic could allow. The egg is luscious in texture and gives the rich base of poultry flavour. Poured on top is a velvety onion soup that that mingles wonderfully with the crisp smoked bacon that completes the illusion.

The roast Cornish cod is magnificently cooked – no doubt sous-vide and finished-off in the pan. The fish melts with buttery goodness, while equally tender cockles and clams sit amongst some usual Chinese artichokes (that look like bug-shaped pasta). The côte de porc steak gets the typical French treatment (i.e. cooked with plenty of delicious butter) and is served with some lovely al dente miniature turnips and carrots and some irony Savoy cabbage. These elements are then brought together by a creamy white polenta, studded with bursts of fresh spring onion.

Dessert rounds-off a high calibre meal in either a tradition or modern way. The mulled wine poached pear is soft and spiced for an autumn afternoon, capped with a ring of a dark toffee tuille to provide some crunch. Though you might prefer the mojito sundae that impresses with its mint, lemon and lime gelatos, topped with shards of meringue, sugar frosted mint leaves and dashes of lemon curd; a refreshing balance of sweet and sour.

Atherton’s playful take on using high-quality produce is a wonderful dining pleasure. The Social Eating House lets you have a surprisingly high standard meal in an unusually casual environment. It’s sure to keep Soho’s fashionable foodie crowds pleased for a long time to come.

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