Spanish and British flavours at Jason Atherton’s Social Wine & Tapas

social wine and tapas

Jason Atherton focuses on wine and tapas made with British produce for his sixth London site

Michelin-starred chef Jason Atherton is building an empire of award-winning restaurants and bars, not just in London but in Dubai, Hong Kong, Singapore, Shanghai and New York. Under the umbrella of The Social Company, his London successes include City Social, Berners Tavern and Social Eating House, home to The Blind Pig which won best international restaurant bar in the Spirited Awards at Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans in July.

He has gone in a new direction with Social Wine & Tapas in the “restaurant row” of James Street off Oxford Street. Covering the ground floor and basement, it specialises in tapas with Spanish flavours combined with the best of British produce. With 70 covers, it includes a counter where diners can watch chefs at work in the open kitchen.

The extensive list of good-quality and rare wines has been put together by executive sommelier Laure Patry who has worked with Jason for over 10 years on all of his restaurants. It particularly champions smaller growers, with fine wines sold by the glass – plus flights – thanks to a Coravin wine-preservation system. This care extends to the fortified wines, with a good choice of sherry, port and madeira, as well as a range of sake. All the waiting staff are sommeliers able to offer informed advice on wines to ensure the list remains accessible.
The food has been developed by Jason with head chef Frankie Van Loo, formerly at Social Eating House. The daytime menu is smaller snacks such as cured hams but, in the evenings, it extends to mains of seafood and meat, such as roasted sea bream with piperade, chorizo and coriander and Norfolk suckling pig with roasted pineapple and a sherry caramel.

For the interiors, Jason has enlisted Russell Sage Studio which also worked on City Social and Social Eating House. While evoking a Spanish tapas bar, it has an urban and contemporary design, with metallic finishes throughout such as copper artwork, lamps and an industrial-style chandelier. This contrasts with timber wall cladding and the deep polished wood and timber of the tables, including reclaimed Firenze oak tables from UHS Group with copper-edge finishes and antique brass studs. Banquettes and other seating are upholstered in green polished leather on the ground floor and in burgundy in the basement, including pedestal bar stools with circular steel frames and buttoned seats and backs.

Social Wine & Tapas has a limited cocktail list, such as twists on Sangria and an Old Fashioned, which contrasts with Jason’s other restaurants with their focus on cocktails under group bar manager Gareth Evans. However, with its extensive but approachable wine list and its superior tapas, it is a fine addition to the Atherton portfolio.

Social Wine & Tapas, 39 James Street, London W1U 1DL
Tel: 020 7993 3257

Behind the scenes
Interior design: Russell Sage Studio
Furniture: UHS Group
Bar stools: Noble Russell

Originally published in the September 2015 print edition of Bar magazine.

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