Meal at City Social

Meal at City Social

at City Social on 26 June 2016
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Not much has changed in my opinions of previous visits to City Social, with the only exception being I think I might like this place even more.  It is seriously seductive and pleasant for drinks at the bar or a lovely meal overlooking London with very caring service and actually a fun thing to do / environment to experience for most occasions I would say.  After a brief security check on the ground floor (I’m actually a fan of this to increase safety), a full compliment of staff was ready to greet us at the reception at the end of the very quick elevator climb to the 24th floor.  Pleasant drinks at the bar were seemlessly transposed on to the table bill and the headline is that the meal had on this occasion was as slick in design as the whole restaurant area.

The starters I tried were the Brixham crab and fruits of the sea linguini, which were both fresh and excellent and all other dishes were presented in a way worthy of the venue’s shiny Michelin star.  I have had the fillet steak here before (see below) but not the côte de boeuf (shared between two) which was more steep in price, but with the lovely bone marrow and quantity of the beef given, you can see more clearly why this is priced as it is.  I thought this shared meat was absolutley wonderful but found I didn’t need as much of the fat that was given on the côte de boeuf.  The Irish beef and lamb dishes were certainly pretty and the lamb I tried was deep in flavour and deliciously tender with well judged jus to accompany.

The starters I tried were the Brixham crab and fruits of the sea linguini, which were both fresh and excellent and all other dishes were presented in a way worthy of the venue’s shiny Michelin star.  I have had the fillet steak here before (see below) but not the côte de boeuf (shared between two) which was more steep in price, but with the lovely bone marrow and quantity of the beef given, you can see more clearly why this is priced as it is.  I thought this shared meat was absolutley wonderful but found I didn’t need as much of the fat that was given on the côte de boeuf.  The Irish beef and lamb dishes were certainly pretty and the lamb I tried was deep in flavour and deliciously tender with well judged jus to accompany.

The peppercorn and bearnnaise sauces were done well naturally, although I found the peppercorn sauce a tad too fiery and the bearnnaise a little more dense compared with my last visit, but both still good.  The simple side of salad was actually worthy of note in itself as beautifully coated with a light vinegarette and the duck fat chips were never in danger of being a bad addition as were lovely, although in truth, I actually prefer when they are not so thick if the crust is quite thin as it means more crunch for your bite(!).  The rasberry soufflé on the other hand I thought was stupendous in flavour.  Normally soufflés can be too sickly sweet but this was toned down beautifully with equally well supporting rasberry ice cream.

One minor error from the night, which was a basic one, was that the 20 minute wait for the soufflés was not mentioned as a heads up at the beginning or during the meal (it is on the menu but I would argue many diners don’t always look at desserts at the beginning of the meal as they wish to see how they feel at the end and then forget).  The staff were customarily good about it when this was pointed out at selection time but perhaps the pressure to get the souffle out as quickly as possible caused it to being ever so slightly liquidy in the middle and undercooked – it didn’t change the fact however, that it was the nicest tasting souffle I have had to date.  The white, red and dessert wines on this occasion were all agreeable to the food but seemed perhaps a little steep in price for the yield in the mouth when I compare the quality of the Californian red had at Smith and Wollesky with their steak for example.

Nip-picking and observations aside, this was a wonderful meal without a shadow of doubt, with stylish food matching an equally gorgeous venue; it was in fact a total pleasure to experience properly and share with the whole company present.

Obviously, we needed to do this as well, so the fillet beef with three different sauces was obviously needed.  I thought the beef fillet done here with its sweetened and delicate tenderness was utterly beautiful and I would put this way above those at Goodman based on the fact they had clearly been rested and beautifully presented on a mini-wooden slab as well.  The béarnaise was completely lovely although I could have done with a tiny bit more tarragon for my palate and it was lovely to try their sauce choron (supposed to be served with the lobster but I could not resist asking and they were very generous to oblige my ludicous sauce fetish).

There are simply not very many reasons not to enjoy this place and it remains a fantastic venue in its stylish and yet unpretentious delivery.  One is looked after well here, in a tastfully designed venue that also happens to serve tasty, Michelin starred nibbles and dishes that have simply gorgeous flavours.

We were looked after superbly from the beginning from the restaurant reception, cloak area, bar staff, waiting staff, head staff and kitchen staff all operating under the experienced eye of the floor manager, Rob Kihlstrom.  I was immensly impressed with the degree of hospitaility all round, which frankly rivalled that of Le Gavroche – a significant standard to reach.  This was then followed by some wonderful dishes including pig’s trotter, sweetbread risotto with madeira glaze, Pork loin with superb accompanying black pudding and rabbit that was entirely succulant.  I idiotically did not take any photos of the mains and can only put that down to being so keen to dig in to them that this was not done.  Desserts were equally strong, in fact, there wasn’t a single element of all food brought to the table that I didn’t enjoy as the three of us tried everything.

A long chat with my co-diners was had over how any improvements could be made if any and the telling thing was that it was genuinely hard to answer that question.  We agreed that if one was ultra picky, there were a couple of language barrier issues with the waiting staff that caused two near misses, but to their credit their extremely polite approach and initiative transcended these.  The only other observation was that a fraction longer in between courses would stray in to feeling the wait was longer than necessary – although close, thankfully, this barrier was not breached.

All in all, this was a suarve and comfortable environment to visit where I was frankly delighted with the service and the pleasingly sexy and simple flavours of the food which, together produced a great experience.  A newly owned establishement has had the Atherton formula thrown at it with flavour combination favourites and gaining their first Michelin star straight away and a no holds-bar approach to the expense needed to fully transform a venue to a very good result.

On some revisits to restaurants where I have had to go back to gain more photos I have felt it a minor chore to varying degrees depending on the place, but in this case I can happily say that I am actually excited about the need to go back.  As a fillet steak and sauce béarnaise obsessive, I cannot wait to go back and see how this or the lobster is with the sauce choron.  A very good show here indeed and although the phrase is often over used, it genuinely exceeded all my expectations.  Bravo.

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9 / 10

Pancetta, white and brown breads

Creamed butter

Ravioli of mushrooms, & quail egg, truffle mash and mushroom salad

Warm fruits of the sea linguini

French quail, pancetta peas, gem lettuce & quali egg

Scallops, soy, green apple, pickled ginger, puffed black rice and iced wasabi

Brixham crab, Calednian prawn, pickled kohlrabi pear, spring onion and sesame

Côte de beouf for two

Lamb with bacon crumb and mint

Braised Irish beef short rib, celery, watercress and red wine sauce

Fillet steak

The spoils of the banquet

Chocolate and vanilla ice cream and strawberry sorbet

Rasberry souffle and ice cream

The bill for 5

Banana & dill G & T

Picnic basket

Picnic contents

View from bar table

The bill for 2

Pre-cocktails

Forrest Run cocktail

Baby fried calamari

Pork empanadas, Pepper prawn crackers & ponzu, cheese choros with truffle honey dip

Crab & avacado salad with citrus mayonnaise

Beef fillet

Served medium rare with duck fat chips

Beef fillet with sauce béarnaise & sauce choron and duck fat chips

The bar evening’s bill for two

Interior view (1)

Afternoon Ti cocktail

Bread selection

Sweetbreead risotto

Lamb

Rabbit

Interior view (2)

Restuarant area (3)

Social bar

Lemon and vanilla tart

Prune Parfait

Peanut, chocolate and banana