Having read the menu online we were expecting to choose a three course a la carte meal. However, upon arrival and being seated our waiter presented us with the choice of a tasting menu. We went for it of course, and we certainly didn't regret it.
Following some decent sourdough bread and smoked butter (nicer than it sounds), we kicked off with a scallop ceviche; slippery, slivers of sliced scallop with wafer-thin discs of artichoke and a dreamy avocado puree. It was a pretty generously-sized portion for a first course, but it was also light and refreshing enough to not lay too heavy on the tummy.
I know foie gras isn't everyone's cup of tea, but I can't help myself, I really like it, and the herb-coated wedge that formed the bulk of the second course was excellent. The taste of it always reminds me of eggy bread (I LOVE eggy bread), and this was no different; light and buttery and not too-big a chunk that the richness overwhelmed. It was served with vegetables in a dashi broth and some tiny slices of chilli which gave a hint of heat to the course.
The cod which was served up next was so flaky it could've been advertised by a model eating it sensuously whilst sitting in an overflowing bath. It too was topped with a crust - this time one with a light crunch and the warmth of horseradish. Cauliflower puree, slices of apple and a salty miso glaze finished off a fantastic fishy dishy.
Our meaty main was nicely-pink lamb, salty and smooth olive oil mash, crunchy turnips and fondant potatoes. Rather than a traditional gravy it was all served with a Nicoise sauce, adding extra salt and crunch from the anchovy and the olives. Swiss chard added a touch of greenery to another cracking piece of cooking.
The first dessert of apple puree, buttermilk sorbet and blueberries was refreshing and sharp, welcome after the richness of the savoury courses. Tasty it was too, though for me it could've used a bit of crunch. The second dessert had that in bucketloads. Well, discs actually, of a nutty brittle which sandwiched a fantastic peanut butter parfait. Atop all this sat sour cherries and a cherry sorbet, and the whole combination was rather wonderful.
As was the whole evening in truth. Service, surroundings and ambience were lovely and relaxed and the price was pretty reasonable given the quality of the food and wine. Social Eating House would be a great place to take anyone a bit nervous about trying fine dining, and indeed anyone who enjoys a really good meal in pleasant surroundings. It certainly lives up to its name.