Jason Atherton has insomnia. Well I don’t know this for sure, but it’s all I can think by way of explaining how he can possibly have the energy and time to launch and manage the number of eateries in his rapidly bulging portfolio.
Latest up is his new Social Wine and Tapas bar in James Street, Marylebone. James Street is the continuation of Marylebone High Street, which places it perfectly for the wealthier of the area’s residents to regard it as their ‘local’. It’s also the ideal location to provide a sanctuary for those seeking a safe house from the rigours of shopping at Selfridges. Clever Mr Atherton.
It’s not ridiculously expensive, but all up it can be a little ‘kerching kerching’ if you over-order, as is tempting, especially with tapas. Having said that it always astounds me how much people will pay for a fairly basic burger in a plastic bowl with factory-made condiments squirted from a sticky plastic bottle. This experience can cost upwards of 10 quid, so I guess the ‘Rose veal & foie gras burgers, pulled pork, avocado, pickled cucumber ‘ at £12 is fair value.
Head chef, Frankie Van Loo has put together a stunning menu of bites that go well with the ‘bang-on’ wine list by Laure Patry exploring lesser known boutique offerings . Raw Orkney sea scallop, yuzu, radish, cucumber (£7) is sheer joy in the mouth and sits nicely with the local Wiston Estate Cuvée Brut from West Sussex (£12). The ‘Norfolk suckling pig, roasted pineapple, sherry caramel’ (£12) is a knock out, and perhaps my fave of the menu, pairing beautifully with the Velvet, Gerhard Pittnauer, Neusiedlersee from Austria. Great value at £6 a glass.
I love perching at the upstairs bar which affords a perfect brids-eye view of the workings of the ‘hot’ section of the kitchen. You also get to pick away at some very clever cheffy brains if that’s your thing (they can’t close the door on you). The ‘cold’ section is downstairs where you’ll find the bulk of the seating options, in the moody, sultry dining room. I can see a few wintery afternoons here in my future.
Social Wine and Tapas
39 James St,
Scratch Score 4/5
Does what it says on the tin. Watch out for order creep if like us, you’re on a budget.
Have you read our Review of Skye Gyngell’s Spring Restaurant?