Jason Atherton has been conquering the London dining scene ever since breaking away from the clutches of Gordon Ramsay Holdings and opening his flagship restaurant Pollen Street Social in 2011. He has opened six more restaurants in London and others in Singapore, Hong Kong, Shanghai and, most recently, New York. He also has restaurants opening this year in Dubai and Sydney. You think this would be enough to keep him busy and yet he still manages to write cookbooks!
Jason’s fourth book, Social Suppers, is aimed at the home cook and the recipes are for over a hundred dishes that Jason says he likes to cook for his family at home. The inspiration has come from his various travels around the world and jotted down ‘on a long haul flight or just in a coffee shop grabbing some precious moments alone’. The ideas are drawn from around the globe with influence from, but not limited to, Spain, France, Italy, Asia and the US. Having said this, Atherton encourages the use of local, seasonal produce in his recipes and suggests appropriate alternatives to more expensive ingredients that might not be readily available.
Dishes are mostly simple, straightforward and big on flavour. Mrs Tee’s wild mushrooms on toast with bacon jam are sure to be a crowd pleaser as is the Spring vegetable tartine with creamed burrata. There is a nod to the fine dining end of Atherton’s repertoire – the Scallop ceviche with pickled fennel and lemon confit comes straight from the menu of Pollen Street Social. Other dishes come from sister restaurants – Little Social’s Burger and Brown sugar tart, London honey and almond cake with honey jelly from Social Eating House and Bone marrow, gentleman’s relish and onions on toast that is so popular on the menu in Hong Kong that it cannot be removed!
Main courses vary from dishes that are easily achievable midweek such as Poached egg and basil pizza or Meatballs with tomato sauce to the more complicated (and expensive) Roast suckling pig with candied pineapple and roast pepper or Roast rack of lamb with spiced olive jus and creamy mashed potatoes which would be better suited to a grown-up dinner party.
The desserts are mouth-wateringly tempting and not overly intricate; classics such as Eton mess, Apple tarte Tatin and the humble rice pudding all feature alongside more adventurous dishes like Goat’s cheese ice cream with honeycomb and milk biscuit or Chocolate ganache with Spanish olive oil and sugared bread.
The end of the book includes a Basics section in which Atherton gives recipes for stocks and sauces, dressings and marinades and ice cream. These are concise and informative and will be a useful tool and reference point for the avid home cook.
Jason Atherton’s next book, Social Sweets, is released this year and hopefully will motivate people to be inspired and get into the kitchen as much as this one.