City social is a stylish modern British restaurant by London chef Jason Atherton on the 24th floor of Tower 42 in the city. It took some persuading to get me to the restaurant as I’m not a fan of British cuisines since it’s mainly has beef and fish – definitely not for me! But Amen was adamant and the menu he showed me had a few dishes for me to order. We arrive at Tower 42 but had no idea which door to use. After some back and forth we go for the side door as we see someone that looked like they worked there going through. It was empty and quiet though, I was thinking this is definitely the wrong way. But we see a lonely security guard and we asked, ‘Is this the way to City Social?’. He gestures towards the lift and says, ‘Floor 24’.
The restaurant is expansive with a beautiful view of the city and iconic buildings like The Gherkin. It’s definitely a stunning restaurant full of art-deco. The window seats are the best – deep, curved booths with a perfect view. We were sat just behind – still has a good view. My only criticism with the interior is the lighting. It was way too dark! Especially in the evening. It felt almost like a club. There was a really dim spotlight above each table and a candle on the table.
After leaving a while to settle, a waitress comes over and asks, ‘Would you like anything to drink – wine or champagne?’ Firstly, do you mean anything or just wine or champagne? I brush over this, and ask for a bottle of still water. She also brought us bread and two types of butter – regular and an onion butter. The onion butter was nice – tasted a little like cheese & onion walker crisps. There are a lot of staff in the restaurant, yet we were left waiting for at least another 10 minutes before our waiter came with the menu. He was pleasant. He explained the short menu to us and recommends dishes – which just happen to be the most expensive dishes in each category. Already, I’m getting the impression they are about the view and making money – Amen states they are no different to sales people!
When the waiter leaves, I look at the menu and back at Amen. He doesn’t look at me. I think he’s trying to avoid eye contact with me. Yes, you guessed it, there’s nothing I would like to eat on the menu. The menu changed! I was slightly annoyed and a little moody – ok! A lot! – Sorry babe, I was just too hungry to have no choice.
For starters, Amen had the Cauliflower tart which has curry, parmesan custard, Severn & Wye smoked haddock and creamed leeks. This looked like a winner dish as almost everyone around us had ordered it. He thought it was really nice, pastry was light and a very different dish. The haddock was good but more leeks than haddock. His favourite part was the filling of the tart.
I had the small version of West country partridge risotto which has roasted corn and aged Sardinian Pecorino. I’ve never had risotto – this one tasted good. I wasn’t wowed, but it was ok to eat. The partridge was better than I thought but I didn’t love it. I gave the rest to Amen, and he loved both the risotto and partridge. He thought the risotto was slightly a little more al dente than he expected but didn’t mind it too much.
For mains, Amen had the duck breast with confit leg & heart, carrot reduction and grilled leeks. He didn’t enjoy it. This dish just confirmed that he doesn’t like duck breast especially because the way its cooked in British cuisine as its still pink. But loved the confit leg and heart – he would’ve happily had just more of that. The carrot reduction was a bit sweet but the actual carrots were tasty.
I had the large Potato gnocchi for my main, which had confit chicken leg, roasted onion, friend hen’s egg and parmesan. Again, never had gnocchi but it was average. I could only have a few as it was making me slightly sick. The chicken leg was delicious, succulent and I devoured it. I didn’t have the egg – just moved it to one side. I can’t justify having a fried egg for dinner. But it was perfectly runny, would love it for breakfast!
For dessert, Amen had the Coconut & Chocolate Soufflé with pistachio ice-cream – you have to wait 20 minutes for it. For Amen, it wasn’t worth the wait – it was too “eggy” for him, which might just be his palette as he doesn’t like egg. I tried it and it was okay, but I preferred my dessert which was the Hazelnut Plaisir sucré with chocolate syrup, biscuit and milk ice-cream. It was deliciously chocolatey with a hint of hazelnut. However, the tiny milk ice-cream on the side was not cool! The size was a disappointment. I wanted more. I was feeling nice and tried to make up for my moody behaviour at the start that I gave half of my dessert to Amen.
The food was presented beautifully but a little over the top. I wish the focus was on the taste of food more than the presentation. At the end of the day, we are here for the taste not the way it looks. I needed more flavour.
The service is also something that needs to be worked on. The staff seem to act in a way that they are always being watched and constantly on edge. Not one member of staff showed personality and it seemed like they were trying way too hard. From scraping the table for the smallest crumbs to dishes being brought on trays by one person and waiting to be delivered by another. If there was any background music being played, I didn’t hear it. The restaurant is simply boring with complicated dishes that are short on flavour. If you’re after a dinner with a view and a lot more fun, just go over to the Heron Tower for Sushi Samba or Duck & Waffle.
Cuisine: Contemporary British
Dress Code: Smart casual
Amen’s Star Dish: Cauliflower tart
Shiima’s Star Dish: Hazelnut Plaisir sucré with chocolate syrup, biscuit and milk ice-cream
Price: £40 each (excluding alcoholic drinks)
Rating: 2.5 out of 5