Stylish, sleek and atmospheric, I immediately loved the vibe at Social Wine and Tapas. Being part of the Michelin-starred chef Jason’s Atherton’s group of restaurants (which can be found around the world, including 9 eateries in London alone), I was expecting good things of this tapas bar and wine shop on James Street, in London’s Marylebone district.
Developed in collaboration with executive chef Marcus Rohlen and sommelier Laure Patry, the menu offers a range of modern, tapas-style dishes using carefully selected British produce, together with a seasonally-varying range of cheeses and charcuterie from around the world, all complemented by a superb selection of quality and rare wines.
The first thing you see as you step inside is the open kitchen and dining counter — I always enjoy watching the magic happen as the chefs prepare our meals. Soft lighting, dark woods and leathers, quirky gold-painted brick walls and classically stylish fixtures and fittings throughout create an elegant and exclusive atmosphere.
We started with some sourdough bread (£2.25) and Cinco Jotas Jamón Ibérico de Bellota (£14.50), from Jabugo in southwest Spain, considered one of, if not the best hams in the world. The free-range pigs are fed on acorns, roots and herbs in the woodlands of Jabugo, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. I’ve been cutting down on the amount of meat I eat for some time now, leaning towards a more vegetable and fish based diet, so when I do eat meat I figure it may as well be the best and of course, ethically reared.
One tasty treat after another followed, most notably the light and delicious sea bream in a squid ink tempura with mojo verde, a cilantro (coriander leaves) and garlic sauce from the Canaries (£13.50), and the simply prepared chargrilled asparagus with tomatillo (a small green fruit originating in Mexico), topped off with a fried egg and more of the excellent Cinco Jotas’ bellota cured ham (£9.50).
Despite being rather full, I couldn’t resist trying the chocolate mousse — a delectable combination of 64% Noir Li Chu chocolate mousse and salted caramel (£7.50). A fitting end to a wonderful lunch.
There’s a fabulous collection of wines here, and all the waiters and waitresses are qualified sommeliers, more than happy to help you select the right wine for your personal preferences and meal choice. Wine by the glass (125ml) starts at £5.50.
Great food, attentive but unfussy service and a warm ambience in a chic setting, for me, make Social Wine and Tapas one of the best tapas bars in London. Most of the dishes were new to me, but they were obviously carefully thought out, with wonderful taste combinations. I enjoyed trying something a little different without feeling it was too experimental which, let’s face it, doesn’t always work. These dishes did work… to perfection!
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Social Wine and Tapas
39 James Street, London W1U 1DL
Monday – Saturday
Wine Shop: 11am – 10:30pm
Restaurant: 12pm – 10:30pm (11pm Fridays & Saturdays)
Please note that from Monday-Friday their full menu is not available between 2.30pm-5.30pm and on Saturdays between 4pm-5.30pm; a reduced menu of para picar, cheese and hams is served.
+44 020 7993 3257
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This is my kind of meal! For a long time my favourite restaurants in London were pretty much all tapas places and I really think that with so many of us having much more ability to cook at home – amazing ingredients available to us and more knowledge about cooking basics – it actually makes more sense when we do eat out to choose places which are serving lots of different dishes prepared to a very high standard as you could never replicate it yourself. This is on my list now!
I’m sure you won’t be disappionted, Jai.