Jason Atherton is a great guy. He signed my menu for me when he was the guest chef for the London Art Week Pavilion in 2013.
When Gordon Ramsay opened his Maze restaurant in 2005, he chose Atherton to work there as head chef. I remember being amazed by the range of food, and the fact that you could order 10 or 12 small plates of tapas style dishes. The sharing concept was a new idea for London then but now you can find it everywhere in restaurants ranging from Peruvian ceviche joints to Italian tapas (Bocca Di Lupo).
As well as several Social restaurants, Atherton has now added Sosharu to the list. I haven’t been, but the restaurant has been reviewed very approvingly by several restaurant critics, including Jay Rayner (The Observer).
Giles Coren is my favourite food critic and I was keen to see what he had to say about it…..
After spending the first page of his review in rapturous praise of the toilets, which leave him ‘with a spring in his step, snd a full 10/10 waiting to be hung around Sosharu’s neck’, he gets round to discussing the food. I normally don’t mind some background information before going into specific details enjoyable but this is overdoing things somewhat.
Coren tries ‘two tiny rectangles of hamachi sashimi’ which come on a tray ‘made of ice and set in a wooden block.’ They are ‘too small to count as food’: it seems like he is going to be harsh about the small portions but he praises the scallop tartare as ‘fresh, summery, relatively filling, and fun to eat with the sleek wooden sticks.’
Then an open temaki, which pleases Coren very much. Not least the playful preparation of the dish, which comes with a miniature plastic bottle, similar to the squeezy bottles so often used by chefs for drizzling and dribbling sauces on to plates. He sees this as evidence of Atherton’s more playful approach to food and notes that ‘the great man may be truly lightening up.’
On trying the ‘best deep-fried chicken’ (Karage); Coren notes the value of his choice (£6.60), and finds himself ‘yodelling for the wasabi mayonnaise again’ which is served in another plastic bottle. The usually loquacious writer can only describe the taste as ‘dreamy.’
Already won over, he tries a ‘hockey puck of chashu pork belly and a puck of cabbage’ which are served on udon and oyster mushrooms. The presentation, so important in Japanese food, is given as much significance as the taste. The sheet of nori stuck in the side is described as like a 99 flake in a Mister Whippy, and tastes ‘exquisite.’
Too full to eat any more, he leaves a miso-glazed aubergine, having dined there alone.
The winner of the Restaurant writer of the Year award, Coren always makes you feel you can almost taste the food with his vivid descriptions of tastes and flavours.
His final scores are:
Review published in the magazine of The Times Magazine. Saturday 10 September.