Home Estate Planning City Social at 10, London restaurant review: Good food, Vodka Revs vibe

City Social at 10, London restaurant review: Good food, Vodka Revs vibe

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Returning to the iconic restaurant as Jason Atherton’s City Social turns 10, by Adam Bloodworth

City Social premiered in 2013 amid a scramble among London chefs to open everhigher restaurants at the pinnacle of our skyscrapers. Duck and Waffle became a celeb magnet when it opened a year earlier, Searcys members’ club was flirting with the idea of offering non card-holding plebs a table at the top of the Gherkin, and Gong at the Shard was having its inaugural fling.

Jason Atherton was at the top of his game – his Pollen Street Social was awarded a Michelin star six months after opening, and now he was threatening to overshadow Duck and Waffle with a rooftop restaurant for actual Londoners, rather than the bridge-and-tunnel, in-for-the-day types Dan Doherty’s gaff was appealing to. It was an altogether smarter, glossier and higher quality iteration of London’s new sky-high gastronomy club. Press photos showing the view from the restaurant over the Gherkin made it look like the rudely-shaped

building, still a novelty in 2013, was within grasping reach. Arriving for dinner for City Social’s ten year anniversary, I’m led to the toilet, which is through some double doors that feel like they should be staffonly. Through here, the restaurant’s once formidable, ubiquitous black paint is chipped, revealing the white palate underneath. It feels like I shouldn’t be here. Out in the main restaurant, our black leather booth feels fancy in the same way a night at Vodka Revs once did.

The chunky booths facing towards the windows feel so far apart from one another that you have to remind yourself you aren’t the only diners. It’s so dark you cannot see whether the leather banquettes are the real deal or not. Nor can you read the menu. It’s perplexing how a restaurant that helped redraw the roadmap for contemporary dining can feel so desperately in need of a redesign. On the 24th floor of Tower 42, the views are sublime, obviously. And the food and service is very decent too.

We had arrived late to our already late reservation on a dreary Tuesday night, when the cohort of bankers living it up on business credit cards were making their excuses and heading home. The staff told us we were running out of time in a way that suggested they cared that we saw off three courses, rather than that they might miss their last train home. Michelin starred or not (it is), it is the work of a madman to charge £22 for one roasted Orkney scallop.

A chocolate pud with rare, spenny Araguani 72% dark chocolate and salted caramel ice cream is the chocolate pud you always hope for but rarely put to the tongue

We had ordered assuming the dish would be the usual triplet, but to be fair the singular piece was spectacular, dressed elaborately but not so elaborately that the flavours couldn’t do the talking. King prawn and lobster ravioli also arrived as one singular beast, but justifiably so: one great big piece of ravioli covered the top of my bowl like a pie lid. You hardly ever get much ravioli anyway, so I’m all about doing away with the ‘four or five pieces’ and gunning for one giant blob instead. The fleshy lid disguised smoked hay butter and a shellfish bisque, which I was spooning into my mouth before my friend got back from the tired old loo and tried to eat more for himself.

Mains are more predictable British fare than the starters but done to the standard that has sustained this restaurant its Michelin star over the years. Duck with runner beans, Normandy heritage carrots and Madeira sauce was well-balanced and cooked well; the fillet steak was served confidently with an admirable waxy coating and softness within. They were paired with a Côtes du Rhône Domaine Charvin 2020, an underplayed wine hand when it comes to southern France.

A chocolate pud with rare, spenny Araguani 72% dark chocolate and salted caramel ice cream is the chocolate pud you always hope for but rarely put to the tongue. No complaints here. Rooftop restaurants are hard work.

A decade on since the restaurant‘s opening, and despite being in need of a proper lick of paint, I assure you this is still the best sky high hedonism in town. Bring a torch, go to the toilet quickly and you’ll dine extremely well.

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