On arrival, you could be forgiven for overlooking the understated side entrance at Tower 42 reserved for Jason Atherton’s Michelin-starred City Social. It’s unassuming dark demeanour makes you wonder if you have the right place as you wander through slightly shabby corridors and climb into the cramped lift.
But I promise you once the lift has transported you at ear-popping speed up to the 24th floor, you are left with no doubts that this is exactly where you’re meant to be and wow, what a view it is.
Our coats are taken and we’re swiftly escorted to our table. We were lucky enough to be right by the floor to ceiling windows that line the edge of the restaurant, opposite Heron Tower and with a great view of the Gherkin. Look a bit further and your eyes are drawn to the glimmering skyline of Canary Wharf and the row of lights twinkling along the river’s edge.
My photo does not do the view justice at all!
After being recommended a lovely white wine by the sommelier, we had the hard task of choosing between all of the delicious options on the menu. Once we’d ordered they brought over a basket of freshly made sourdough bread and two different butters – one plain and one onion. The onion butter was so full of flavour and moreish with the warm bread that it took a serious amount of willpower not to fill up before the meal even started.
For starter I had the Orkney scallops with cep fregola (a small, cous-cous like pasta), smoked pancetta, black garlic and lardo di Colonnata (£13). This is arguably one of the best dishes I’ve had this year, the scallops were really sweet, plump and paired perfectly with the smokiness of the pancetta and the saltiness of the lardo. I could have just eaten two portions of that and gone home happy – as a starter it was quite filling.
Paul had one of their oysters with melon and yuzu (£5) as well as the yellowfin tuna tataki with cucumber, radish, avocado and ponzu dressing (£15) – both of which were very delicate, light and fresh (and not as filling as my starter!).
I was torn between the beef short rib and the duck for main. I absolutely love beef short rib and based on the quality of the food at City Social, I’m sure it would have been incredible but it comes with celery which is one of the only foods that I can’t stand so the duck won this time! The Merrifield Farm duck breast comes from just outside of Exeter in Devon and was served with confit leg and heart, carrot reduction and grilled leeks (£35). Paul was worried that he’d be jealous of mine if he chose differently so ended up with the duck too. Everything about this dish was delicious, the duck was pink and tender and the carrot reduction was sweet and smooth.
Again, they had so many tempting dessert options that it was difficult to choose but eventually we settled on the apple tarte tatin with vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce for two people to share (£16). They brought the whole freshly-made tarte tatin to the table and then sliced it in half, served it with the ice cream and poured over thick caramel sauce. It was huge – even for a dessert lover like me I must concede that you could have shared that amongst 3, if not 4, people. I am so glad I wore a loose dress because that tarte tatin was worth every single mouthful, it was incredible! If you go to City Social, make sure you don’t miss it.
Since it was a special occasion (and we’d already ordered them at the same time as ordering dessert) we’d treated ourselves to the selection of chocolates too (£3) which we were way too full for really but managed anyway! There was one raspberry one and one salted caramel one each and they were both perfect truffles.
They also bought Paul a lemon curd birthday cake in a box to take home (thank goodness, I think we might have exploded if we’d had to eat that there too!) which was a really nice touch. Our server was so friendly and attentive, I really couldn’t fault anything about the whole experience.
I left City Social feeling impressed, very happy and incredibly full. I would even go as far as to say it’s a contender for one of the best meals I’ve had. I loved everything about the service, atmosphere and food and you can see why it’s Michelin-starred. If you’re looking for somewhere for a special occasion or treat, I thoroughly recommend a trip up to City Social.
Nearest station: Liverpool Street