I was lucky enough to attend the preview night at Jason Atherton’s newly opened venture; Little Social. Taking its inspiration from French Brasseries, with deep burgundy leather seating, the space is cozy, intimate, and a place you can very easily while away with a couple of bottles of wine.
The menu is short and concise; 5 each of starters, mains and desserts fit onto one A4 sheet, accompanied by a smaller Dinner specials menu containing an extra 2 options of each course. Each option providing enough variety that I had trouble choosing.
I can’t really comment too much on Duncan’s choices (neither of is were in a sharing mood that night), but he was definitely more than happy with his choices, in particular the hot chocolate moelleaux (essentially salted caramel fondant. I chose to start with the umami flavour-bomb of slow-cooked egg soup with parmesan, mushrooms and croutons. It wasn’t much to look at, but the flavours were rich and bright and comforting. I could have happily sat with a tureen of it in front of me. I failed to read the menu properly, but when the ox cheek and horseradish mash arrived with a hunking great chunk of bone marrow poking up out of it, I couldn’t have been more gleeful. The horseradish mash was a bit muted in its heat, but as not a great fan of that sharp, biting flavour anyway, this suited me fine. Needless to say, the ox cheek required no more than a poke with the fork for them to fall apart. With 2 quite rich courses already sitting in my belly, the green tea macaron was the only real choice for me. A touch too firm to eat elegantly with even a fork and spoon, the bitterness of the green tea managed to stop me feeling overwhelmed with all rich choices.
The idea of Little Social being a casual PSS, was most evident in the food; quite a few key ingredients have made their way across the street from PSS and made it onto Little Social’s menu. Both feature crab salads, tartares, slow-cooked eggs, halibut and goats milk rice puddings. Plating was less refined and more relaxed than at PSS, but the amount care put in was no less considered.
Service was impeccable, but having eaten at Pollen Street Social, I wouldn’t expect otherwise. Atmosphere was a little muted the night we visited. In hindsight this might have been due to our table being located right at the back, but I do feel now they are up and running, it will be a buzzy and vibrant atmosphere. There seems to be a spate of French-style brasseries popping up recently in London. Admittedly I haven’t yet visited the much talked about. recently opened Balthazar in Covent Garden, but I imagine where Balthazar is about being seen, Little Social is that neighbourhood joint where you feel like you could just drop in on the way home for a glass of wine and some very good cooking.
Full disclosure: we ate as part of the preview night.