Rather than “Hello, how are you?” my greeting on entering Little Social was “We’ve tried to contact you many times to confirm your booking.” Not very welcoming or accurate, given that I had called to confirm my booking a few days before. It is a shame to start of a meal on the wrong foot and a little misunderstanding like this can sour a whole meal, but thankfully the food at Little Social eased my memory of the unfriendly welcome we received. The Little Social is a brasserie by Jason Atherton situated opposite his Michelin-starred Pollen Street Social. Atherton was a Ramsay disciple, having been head chef at Maze until 2010 when he launched out on his own and is a regular guest on Saturday Kitchen and the like.
We went for lunch and they have a 2 course set menu at £21 and a 3 course at £25. The head chef is a Canadian, Cary Docherty who previously worked at Restaurant Gordon Ramsay and Zuma. The menu is very French and the set lunch included some things that might not be to British tastes like French white sausages (I think made with pork heart and liver); however most of the dishes are hearty but not overly heavy or cream-laden. Their bread comes from a local bakery – it is very fresh and the staff are very generous with keeping it topped up (but it is easy to fill up on this). The cod dish I had to start with was a triumph – like a French slant on Pintxos it came served on a slice of bread: the topping was a mixture of cod, potatoes and olive oil with wonderful chargrilled piquillo peppers and parma ham. This was finished with a salty tapenade (pureed olives, capers and anchovies – a traditional Provencal dish).
Pork belly was served with cabbage, apple and a raisin puree, all smothered in pork jus which was poured at the table. The balance of flavours was perfect – the sharp, acidic apple cut down the dense fatty pork belly, the raisin puree added a sweet punch. I had no room for dessert but the set menu offered an intriguing sounding hibiscus soda strawberry marshmallow, as well as a more mundane burnt cream with peaches.
Verdict: fantastic Brasserie food and a great value set lunch.