“The Social Life Part 3”.. Little Social. Close encounters of the food kind.
So we arrive at the 3rd part of what could be, in good time, a quintet. Having not yet been to either Social Eating House or City Social for food there is definite room for expansion in the blogionary. Ok, I hold my hands up. I made that word up, but if you ever find it in the Collins English Dictionary, remember where you heard it first. Now, before I break into my usual drivel and barge through the restaurant in question like a cat with a washing line peg on its tail, I must raise a glass to an absolutely awesome website/app.
If you are ever struggling to find a place to eat in London, ( or anywhere else for that matter ), I really have to recommend OpenTable. Great service and so simple to use. It was through OT that I managed to get both Berners Tavern and Little Social booked. I was amazed they had spare tables, let alone at times that suited me and at such a late stage. Anyway my point is, if you’re unsure of where to eat, try it. It’s a winner!
Right, let me take you back a bit. Background stuff. My sister-in-law Aine had tickets for Sunday Night At The Palladium. Earth Wind and Fire were on, as was Hal Cruttenden, Maroon 5, the superb ventriloquist Nina Conti, the cast of Evita and as an added bonus, Jason Manford was hosting. As they were freebies and we’d never been before it would have been rude not to accept the invitation. Even if we were 2nd choice, last minute afterthoughts as her friends dropped out.
I’m not sure whether to take it as a compliment or not really. We always get asked late in the day. People tend to have the attitude of “well they ain’t got kids, so they’ll have bugger all to do on a Sunday night” ( maybe true ). It could just be that we aren’t likeable and are asked at a last ditch attempt to make up the numbers. Possibly both. Who knows. In all honesty I would say that her indoors has all the right ingredients to be good entertainment on a night out. I tend to be slightly more downbeat. If we were the O2 advert I would be the cat and the wife a dog. That doesn’t quite sound how it was intended!..the point being wifey is most definitely in the half-full glass category, whereas I tend to be more, the glass broke and now its in pieces and dry, but as it broke a piece of glass landed in my shoe. I cut my foot, stained my socks in blood and now I’m limping around like a 3 legged badger.
I’m sure I was going somewhere with this…..
Arriving at the Palladium we were in good seats and was treated to an excellent show. One of the highlights was Magdalena Alberto. The leading lady in the new Evita musical. Her voice made your hairs stand on end. Incredible performance. This led to me booking tickets for the aforementioned show at the Dominion Theatre. Seemed like a good idea at the time.
On the Wednesday before we were due to go, I whipped open the iPad And had a quick butchers on the OpenTable website. As the tickets for Evita were Saturday matinee time it meant I had a good excuse to book us up a bit of grub afterwards. Happily ( for me, not so much for my bank balance ) the site showed availability at Little Social for 18.15. Without a seconds thought for my receding bank funds I booked us in. Well, you can always get a comb over. Tickets booked, table booked, result!
November 1st duly arrived and off Geraldine and I went London bound. I won’t lie. Watching Evita, It was hard work. If you were to ask me the history of Argentina, I would have thought you meant the TOWIE bloke and his new lady friend. Of course the story centres on Eva Peron and her rise from a poor home to become 1st lady of Argentina before her death at a very young age. She was Argentina’s Princess Di.
Don’t get me wrong, Ms Alberto was still fantastic and it’s not down to the cast that I couldn’t get into the whole kit and kaboodle but the bottom line is as fascinating as it was, I got bored. ” Don’t Cry For Me Argentina ” was the undoubted highlight of a show that I wouldn’t rush back to. Maybe that’s my lack of enthusiasm towards the country’s culture and history as opposed to it not being an extremely good play. If it had been about the history of Argentinian steak or Malbec wine, well that’s another story..
When the show finished we headed over to Monmouth Street via the same street twice as we got lost. Why does my wife insist that she knows where she is going when it’s blatantly obvious she has no idea. I thought that was a male trait. How we ended up going directly to Monmouth street from Tottenham Court Road via half of the streets in Soho I will never know. Thankfully, and now pretty swiftly, shop found, shoes purchased. Happy wifey.
Time was ticking on now and it was approaching reservation time. It didn’t help that I was starving. Being the impatient bugger that I am I insisted on hailing a cab. Even this was slightly shambolic. After ten pints some would argue, correctly that I cannot speak clearly and precisely. At 6pm after being in a theatre show however, I would beg to differ. Sadly our cab driver might disagree. Pulling up in Poland Street. I was a trifle confused. After a quick exchanging of words, the driver raised his eyebrows as if to say “oh you mean PO-LL-EN STREET “… Yes I did. The same one that I mentioned when we got in the cab. Fortunately for us the distance between the two roads is minimal and so after crossing Regent Street we pulled up at the bottom end of Pollen Street. Again our cabbie expressed his delight at finding the correct road despite my poor pronunciation. Well done you!
Arriving outside the restaurant on time felt like a real achievement, ok we were a minute or two late but I was looking forward to this. I slipped in through the curtain while Geraldine finished her after shop cigarette. Greeted by a lovely young lady who took my coat, I took a seat and ordered a cocktail. I did say this once before, whoever created the “Poire Quoi” cocktail, you sir deserve a serious round of applause. It was a little glass of liquid heaven. To have the imagination and creativity to come up with a drink that luxurious, is true talent.
I think the best way to describe the restaurant itself is cosy. Cosy but I love it!.. The decor suits the space perfectly. Not too dark so that you can’t see but low enough to make it very intimate. A little background music adds to the atmosphere. It’s supposed to be different from its big brother across the road and there’s no doubt it is. Both are relaxing venues but you were made to feel like you could chuck your shorts on and roll your beach towel out here. In all honesty you’d struggle to roll out a tea towel so take that previous sentence with a pinch of salt! I just loved the homely feel of the place.
Seated at the far end of the room next to the wines ( happy enough ), we ordered our food and a bottle of Croatian wine. Big thanks to head sommelier Zainab for her recommendation. It was a real quality drink. It was a Malvazija from Kozlovlic. Might try and hunt that kiddie down. Our starter arrived and her indoors had gone out on a limb going for the Warm Smoked Eel. I chose the Violino Pumpkin Soup with Slow Cooked Egg. I’m trying to not go overboard about these courses but the smell and taste of my soup was out of this world.
It gets my vote for best starting course of the year. I just don’t know how these guys do it. Honestly, if I had to eat another dish again before I pop my clogs it would be that starter. Although I would ask chef Docherty to make it into a dish big enough to fill a bath. That way I get a bit longer on the mortal coil. Wifey was salivating over her Eel dish, suggesting it was the best starter also proclaiming it to be her favourite dish in ages. Well, if you are going to have an argument over food, at least make sure it’s the best food eh!.. After 5 minutes of gabbling over whose dish was best, Geraldine had the final say. ” they are both the best “.. Who said blondes are daft!
Going back to the wine choice, if you ever asked me to choose a country where they make a great wine, I don’t think I’d magic up Croatia. It’s a bit like asking who is your favourite member of the Muppets and answering “Pepe The King Prawn “… Of course if your favourite muppet is Pepe then you have my apologies!.. It really was an awesome bottle of wine. That’s why we ordered a second one.
When the main courses appeared we had a tough decision to make. Who had what!.. Geraldine had chosen the Braised Irish Ox Cheek with Roasted Marrowbone. My own choice was the Cumbrian Bavette ( I know the area but not the cut of meat ), with a side order called Poutine. What a strange but interesting dish. I’m not really sure what it’s perfect pairing would be but it goes lovely with Cumbrian Bavette. It’s obviously the Little Socials take on it, but regardless it was decker to the Bavettes double. I would comfortably give this my main dish of the year if it wasn’t for the fact that I don’t eat fish very often, ( see Berners Tavern ).
We both had a try of each dish. As much as I loved the Ox Cheek, there was no contest. This food was on another level and I don’t mean it was served on Dane Bowers. The only way it could have been better is if it was served on a deserted beach in the Indian Ocean by a meerkat ( I love meerkats ). You just couldn’t fault it. As I get older I dearly wish I had learned the art of being in some way a decent chef, actually a remotely half sensible cook would be nice. I make a mean potty wedge but my limits are drawn there. Talking of which, why do sweet potatoes have a tendency to stick to your teeth?
Dessert was a conservative order. We went for the Apple Tarte Tatin with ice cream ( two share ). I think that’s why I’m getting confused about the last course. I thought I had this at Berners but.. I know we had it at Little Social. Amar De Dout!.. If I had to describe the dessert ( the general idea of a review ), I would use three words. Amar De Dout. I have no idea what they mean, if anything, but it was cracking. If you really want a negative, a splash more ice cream would have been peachy but that would be being exceptionally harsh. It was a dish of delight.
I should also add that the service from all the members of staff was first class. If people do have a bad experience in a Social restaurant then I’m shocked. It’s never failed to deliver for me. Overall it was just about one of the best meals I’ve eaten. I’m not including the wife’s Sunday roast obviously.
Marks out of 10:
Ambience : 10
Service : 10
Food : 9.5 ( literally I’m knocking half a mark off for the lack of ice cream )
Summary: I need to work harder, to earn more, so I can go back sooner rather than later. Amazing chef-er-y. Awesome sommelier. Incredible cocktail. Out of this world, full stop!