I guess I am slowly making my way round Jason Atherton’s various establishments. This time it is Little Social in London. With an early dinner booking, as my friend had just flown in from the States, and is also another that is mad about her food, we looked forward to our Little Social experience.
Unfortunately our evening did not start extremely well, being stuck in traffic and not able to contact Little Social to let them know, but eventually as we hurried in from the unusually windy weather, we were greeted by the friendly staff who showed us straight to our table.
With a small reminder that we had a limited time period for our dinner, we were then left with our friendly and smiley waiter who after showing us the menu, poured us some water to start with, allowed us to settle somewhat from our rushed entry. So settle we did, taking in the interior which was wonderfully relaxed, French Bistro, and what caught our eyes was a lovely table tucked away for small group of people (max. seven) to dine at, a little privacy, and I thought to myself, perhaps this could be the next place for “the family” to meet at.
So first on order… an aperitif! What caught my eye on Little Social’s cocktails menu? Poire Quoi? I’m actually not a great drinker as my friends know, but always love to try! Poire Quoi consists of: Grey Goose la poire, Canton ginger liqueur, Poire William, fresh lemon & bay leaf syrup, served on ice with a rinse of absinthe. With that ordered, next the main menu!
I guess not the greatest place if you are a strict vegetarian, and on this occasion I felt particularly in need of meat! It was a hard choosing a starter, so I ended up with the roasted quail breast with confit leg, sautéed foie gras, cherry compote. For my mains I opted for the steak tartare which you can also have as a starter. My friend decided on the scallops to start with: raw hand-dived Orkney Isles scallops, dashi jelly, apple, shiso, wasabi & avocado purée. And as her mains: roasted Cornish cod, cockles, cauliflower, lemon.
So now ordered, a little catch up was in order over our cocktails and some really great bread! One sip of the cocktail – it matched what I had imagined and more – I realised that this was going to be lethal… definitely I wouldn’t be able to drink any wine with the meal.
British ingredients, French atmosphere – that is what Little Social claims and that is what I would confirm. Our food excellent, and as the menu choice predictably indicated… we had a preference to our starters. For myself the Roasted quail breast with confit leg, sautéed foie gras, cherry compote was the best dish – I like the blend of flavours but yet ability of each individual flavour to hold its own. My steak tartare was a little too “busy” in taste, but that is by preference as I always like to taste the freshness of the beef. The Raw hand-dived Orkney Isles scallops, dashi jelly, apple, shiso, wasabi & avocado purée though seemingly “busy” by description, was an excellent combination of flavours. And finally the Roasted Cornish cod, cockles, cauliflower, lemon – I think we had a pre-conception of cockles/clams in their shells to be served as part of the dish, so were slightly disappointed to only find three covered by the cod.
The one thing that is evident in all of Jason Atherton’s restaurants that I have frequented is the level of service and attitude of the staff. I do feel that this is quite key; you are always made welcomed, the staff project friendliness, enthusiasm, and are knowledgeable of their area of expertise. They are very good at giving you the “feel good factor” and this comes across more naturally than most other restaurants.
As we had a time limit for our dinner, we were very happy to be informed that we could still squeeze in the hot chocolate moelleux, sea salt & almond ice-cream which my friend ordered as this requires extra time to prepare. I decided on the strawberries, strawberry & yuzu sorbet, almond sponge cake in the end in hope to “cut through” the heaviness of my previous course choices. Glad for the extra time to digest the first two courses, when our desserts arrived, they definitely did not disappoint!
Foregoing tea and coffee, as jet leg really began to kick in for my friend, we strolled out of Little Social only for my friend to realise that Pollen Street Social was just opposite, and a declaration to make a booking on her next visit to London was made. We had also realised that though we were informed that we had to vacate our table at 8.30pm, we had actually departed around 9.15pm.
Little Social is a great meeting place with an excellent bar/cocktail menu and refined brasserie food. Even though the lighting is low, hence the rather grainy images, I wouldn’t recommend it if you are looking for some where romantic, as our neighbouring table that night, as the noise level of the chatter is a bit too high to invoke romanticism – so not a first date choice, but leave it for subsequent dates! (note: plural) 🙂