The Social Commune’s clever drink names and understated décor make for a nice intimate night out with friends, with, as always, those caveats that remind you that after all this is still a restaurant located in China. What I didn’t know before, however, is that this place forms the most recent venture by Jason Atherton, a British celeb chef with similar upscale, yet casual tapas concepts Esquina in Singapore and 22 Ships in Hong Kong. Like the two former, The Social Commune’s menu is designed to share and hence allow for a big group to taste a number of dishes on the menu. The two biggest issues I take with TSC are their no reservations policy, and their less than stellar service. The food, a delicious, creative, and quite varied blend of European, Latin American, and Asian flavors, almost made up for the two former drawbacks, but not quite. I came in on a Wednesday, the usual ladies night with 3 other girlfriends, and we sat at the bar to giggle over cute musings like “Au Pear,” and “Bet on Black;” play-on-words for drink names. The nerd inside always gets the best of me. And we waited 2 hours… I had the paranoid feeling that perhaps people waiting at the lower floor bar were seated first. Surely no one takes over two hours to eat right? And on a Wednesday? Either way, when finally showed our table (which must have been for two people since our plating, food, and drinks didn’t all fit) the ambiance shifted in the open air space, with varied conversations and my favorite chicks settling on some wine and a few dishes. The DIY tuna tartar claimed the spot of my favored dish with some oil, vinegar, and garnishes like chives and sesame to top off some creative fun. The menu did consist of impressive sourcing like bone marrow with onion jam, sourdough, gentleman’s relish butter, and scallop ceviche, yuzu dip, soy, cucumber, apple.
But again when I went up to use the bathroom a huge stack of dirty plating offended my vision and sat right outside the bathroom window. Throughout the whole time I watched it, and even on the way out when I went to check if the wait staff had tended to it, got annoyed when it still sat there. All in all, the place is chic, delicious and trendy. People will go here to see and be seen, but the kitchen and managers should really rethink the no reservations policy. Do you really want pissy people to sit around and wait to taste your food? Not strategic marketing if you ask me. And secondly, train your staff. Seriously, dirty plating has no room to sit around at a restaurant that otherwise does very well in décor and the type of clientele it attracts. Final diagnostic? Kudos to Rashid Ghuloom with the drink menu (the bar being the best part of my night)! Not only are the cocktails delish creations, but the creative nomenclatures forms an indispensable detail I continue to tell people about when mentioning The Social Commune.