I eat out a lot every week and I eat great food: at cafes and pop-ups, at food markets and fancy restaurants. I rarely have a bad experience, but I also rarely have a truly amazing one. A meal so special and memorable I am still dreaming about it nearly two months later. But it happened with my dinner at the Chef’s Counter at Social Eating House.
Social Eating House is a British restaurant in the heart of Soho, part of Jason Atherton‘s restaurant group. The restaurant is elegant, I would choose it for a special occasion, but compared to other Atherton’s restaurants, the atmosphere here feels informal and relaxed.
The ground floor dining room is where all the action takes place: there’s brick concrete walls, yellow spotlights and warm brown leather banquette seats that add a touch of glam in the busy, noisy room.
Upstairs there is a cocktail bar (The Blind Pig) where we started our evening with a few drinks and snacks. The cocktails are alone worth the visit to Social Eating House, featuring unusual ingredients such as fresh fill or Cheerios milk, Mediterranean falernum and yuzu cordial.
The basement houses a hidden dining space – the Chef’s Counter – with an 8 seater wrap-around counter overlooking the kitchen. This is where we had had our tasting menu dedicated to “Britain’s Forgotten Ingredients”.
Compared to other tasting menus I had a chef’s counters, this was unique because we were completely isolated from the rest of the restaurant. In hindsight I think this is what made my experience so special, even more than the outstanding food and wine, or the attentive service.
Chef Paul Hood heads the kitchen here at Social Eating House and with his team prepared a stunning meal for us.
Paul was awarded a Michelin star in its first year at the highly acclaimed Pollen Street Social, before moving to Social Eating House and bringing together a formidable team of young and talented chefs.
The A La Carte menu is developed closely with Jason Atherton, but the dishes also highlight Paul’s personal style of cooking.
The Chef’s Experience tasting menu comprised of seven courses, with four pairing wines, coffee and petit fours. These courses were especially prepared for us to showcase the best of British ingredients and the chefs’ skills in creating unique, beautiful dishes.
Scorched Cornish mackerel, skyr, walnuts, Pedro Ximenez, chicory.
Smoked eel, beetroot, compressed apple, frozen foie gras yoghurt.
Roasted veal sweetbread, Wiltshire truffle, Madeira, artichoke.
Roast skate wing, Dorset shrimps, seaweed hollandaise, smoked Cornish potatoes.
Charcoal grilled Black Angus rib eye, cheek, garlic potato.
Fromage frais, sorrel, white currant.
Greengage plum jelly, cheesecake parfait, lemon, jam.
The extraordinary dishes were matched by four great wines: Montenisa Franciacorta (Italy) paired with the starters;
Adega de Moncao Vinho Verde (Portugal) for the fish courses;
Chateau de Valcombe Epicure 2010 Rhone Valley (France) for the meat courses;
and Domaine aux Forges, Loire (France) for the desserts.
We ended the dinner three hours later with Chocolate Lavender Fudge.
Despite all the food and wine and really long dinner, I didn’t feel tired or over-whelmed. I thought the tasting menu was very well put together, the dishes well sized and the flavours complementing each other.
It was definitely the best meal I had this summer and one I will remember for a very long time! The Chef’s Counter experience is available through exclusive hire and a 9-course tasting menu, including champagne on arrival and appetizers at The Blind Pig, costs £110 per person (excl. of alcohol & service charge). Not a cheap meal, but one that I highly recommend. If you are looking for a special dining experience in London, this is one of them!
Disclaimer: I was a guest at Social Eating House. All opinions are my own.