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Tuesday, 10 June 2014

City Social, The City

Room with a view: Jason's latest gaff's cocktails come with a Gherkin garnish.

Spikey-top chefebrity Gary Rhodes once cooked breakfast of bacon and chipolatas for me at Margaret Thatcher's daughter Carole's Bankside loft. Before you jump to any erroneous conclusion ("exactly how pissed were you the night before?"), let me stress that I was there on a (very) slow news day, snouting for a scoop at a PR bash to launch some initiative by a pork-pimping bureau called Ladies In Pigs to which I'd been invited. Initially, I'd misread the event as 'Pigs in Ladies ' - a title that conjured up a tacky 50 Shades of Grey-style porno flick wherein various pot ugly footballer lookalikes - one, a Scouser with a penchant for grannies on the game - would 'pleasure' posh old birds. Also present at this surreal meal? Tory/ indie/ UKIP battle-axe Christine Hamilton. Point being, whilst I found old bangers Christine and Carole mildly entertaining in a kind of la-di-da Loose Women way, Gary appeared to have all the synthetic charm of one of the Ladies' see-through sausage skins. The bar at his Rhodes 24 restaurant at Tower 42 in the CIty always struck me in much the same way. 'Meh' to the max. Chef du jour Jason Atherton has never cooked breakfast for me - it can only be a matter of time - but he strikes me as an altogether more interesting sort. So too, his new sky lounge where once stood Gary's gaffe (sic). More sophisticated, more stylish, slicker, less frenetic or gimmicky than other Square Mile get-high-in-the-sky opportunities - hello Heron Tower! - City Social is a blue-chip banker. The busy room - think Wall Street boardroom pre-the '29 Crash - has a bullish confidence about it. It's like 2008 never happened. The views are an obvious draw but best go at sundown; butch brown-on-brown Art Deco-styling, and London below, both look better by night as - moving away from some unfortunate downlighting - do I in Atherton's otherwise seductively-lit space. Order bar snacks - boqueronnes, crab and avocado salad, or goat’s cheese churros with truffle honey - or more substantial dishes off the restaurant menu, also served in the bar. Innovative cocktails include It’s the British whey (brown butter-washed Johnnie Walker Black, PG Tips syrup, split milk whey, bitters, lemon juice and nutmeg, £11.50) - a fine example of why London's stock is riding high. The root of all evil, they say, is money and you'll do well to shell out yours on a walnut rum, Bramley apple syrup, poire William and root beer cooler of that ilk. I'm more circumspect about City Social's resident booze brokers' hot tip, tolero; worried that a Tapatio blanco, Tabasco, piquillo pepper and apricot brandy firecracker might leave me whistling Johnny Cash's Ring Of Fire, confined in City Social's comfy, comely khazi.
Tower 42, 25 Old Broad Street EC2N 1HQ http://www.jasonatherton.co.uk/restaurants/city-social/