22 Ships, Hong Kong

A new Jason Atherton seems to pop up in London every couple of months. Whilst travelling the world I have noticed his significant global influence too. Kensington Street Social has just opened in Sydney’s chic Old Clare Hotel, and he has two successful eateries in Hong Kong.

22 Ships is rather different in style and offering to Atherton’s ‘Social’ restaurants that I have experienced. The small tapas joint is centered around a lively bar, where busy barman mix up White Sangria cocktails and pour glasses of Cava. In the kitchen Executive Chef Nathan Green creates pretty plates of contemporary Spanish tapas. The tasty recipes indicate an obvious influence of Chinese ingredients and produce – roasted suckling pig with pineapple and piquillo peppers is a hit with locals and expats.

I opted for a few of the house specialities including a rich and decadent jamon, manchego & truffle toastie with quail eggs, and the mini pork and foie gras burgers. I loved the perfectly balanced dish of peas, broad beans, goat’s curd and Serrano, a welcome plate of greenery.

The desserts are artistic and exciting, I could see plenty of technical expertise and complicated processes going into each pudding. We devoured the chocolate fondant with malt ice cream and 100’s & 1000’s, a bowl of delicious contrasting textures and tastes. The green tea cheesecake with lime and yoghurt I spotted on the neighbouring table also looked very appetising.

22 Ships is proof that Atherton has a grasp of food trends all around the world, though this little eatery has enough positives to succeed even without his celebrity name attached to it.

More information and book a table at 22 Ships here.

City Social Bar, Bank

City Social, Jason Atherton’s newest venture, is to be found at the top of Tower 42 (formerly the site of Gary Rhodes’ eatery). Usually Atherton’s food is the star quality of any restaurant but recently I’ve found there has been a sense of style triumphing over substance. At Berners Tavern the glorious dining room steals the show and here at City Social it is the views which wow.

I left the bankers to enjoy the expensive restaurant menu and instead opted for a seat in the more casual bar area. If you are looking for sky high entertaining venues City Social’s stylish ambience, fashionable crowd and enviable views beat the local competitors, SushiSamba and Duck & Waffle; I am yet to try the Shangri-La Shard Bar.

The venue has a slick but vintage feel, with a great soundtrack of jazzy tunes. We were seated at a preferable table – from the window we immediately spotted The Gherkin, Cheese-grater and Walkie-talkie buildings, I had time to ponder why we gave our monumental buildings such domestic names! Bar food is expensive considering the portion sizes, but I enjoyed the inventive recipes: goat’s cheese churros with London truffle honey was the highlight, indulgent cheesy doughnut creations.

I loved the imaginative cocktails, which looked and tasted wonderful. The Root of All Evil is a must, presented in a silver goblet and adorned with miniature fake $100 notes – it looks quite the part against the impressive view. A unique concoction made with Walnut rum, Bramley apple syrup, Poire William, lime juice and root beer, it was a refreshing ice cold sour but nutty drink. Robin Hood Quince of Thieves is a delicious choice too, a mix of Somerset cider brandy, quince liqueur, honey mead, lemon juice, mini apple bullseye. It is served short, a smooth balanced drink that is impossible to not like.

For a celebration or special occasion, City Social is the perfect venue: you can raise a glass in the bar and nibble on the quirky snacks, but I wouldn’t waste your hard earned cash in the restaurant when the food at Atherton’s other establishments is far more worthy.

More information and book here: citysociallondon.com

Berners Tavern, Edition Hotel

Berners Tavern has received rave reviews from every critic and blogger who’s managed to nab a table. This lavish eatery is part of Ian Schrager’s new London Edition Hotel which has already welcomed high-profile guests including Kate Moss and Damien Hirst. Within a week of opening, Edition became THE place to stay while Berners Tavern became THE place to eat. With Chef Jason Atherton in-charge of the kitchen, it’s hardly surprising – he can do no wrong and with Berners Tavern he has hit the jackpot once again, his third successful London opening this year.

The opulent dining room has an impressively high ceiling and pictures cover the walls giving the place a boho vintage feel. It is a far cry from the modern minimalist tapas-style eateries monopolising the scene in Soho.

The menu is an all-star compilation of continental favourites: seafood, sandwiches, salads and steaks… after a fruity and flowery cocktail, our starters arrived. Chargrilled chicken paillard with tangy tomato,red onion and rocket was a wonderfully fresh Mediterranean dish, but it was the Crispy Romney Marsh lamb breast with butternut percorino fregola that thrilled – a genius combination of flavours, the earthy vegetables with the juicy meat topped with indulgent cheese, it all worked wonderfully well.

Steaks from the charcoal grill are hearty and filling and perhaps the most popular choice for main… the hunk of meat arrives on a wooden board along with a cup of chunky duck fat chips, salad and sauce. Manly and magnificent. The meat had a lovely depth of flavour enriched further by the various accompaniments. I would have preferred skinnier chips, but that’s being fussy.

Desserts are perhaps the most creative section of the menu… I was tempted by every option. We decided on Caramel apple eclair and Warm almond brioche with pear compote and ginger sorbet. Both were exemplary, indulgent comforting recipes, so tasty you’ll feel obliged to lick the plate clean.

Back through the wondrous lobby, past the check-in and you are confronted by a disorientating piece of modern artwork which marks the entrance to The Punch Room, the secret bar. The elite guests here sip at tumblers of the best punch, recreated with historic references in mind.

The Berners food is less adventurous than Atherton’s other establishments, but will appeal to everyone. Those staying at the hotel will also enjoy the Berners breakfast, I particularly recommend the French toast!

More information and book here: www.bernerstavern.com