Jason Allen 14/01/22
Claude Bosi seems to collect Michelin Stars like it was a hobby.
When he opened his first UK restaurant, Hibiscus, he won two Stars within four years. He then moved the entire restaurant (resetting the count back to zero) and won two more stars within a couple of years of reopening. After that, he opened a restaurant in the Bibendum building – which used to serve as Michelin’s UK Headquarters – and won two Stars there too.
And now, he’s opened another restaurant in Mayfair.
It’s called Socca, and he’s teamed up with restaurateur Samyukta Nair to open it (she’s the driving force behind places like Jamavar, Bombay Bustle, and MiMi Mei Fair). Gastronomically, it’s very much a Southern French, Mediterranean-style joint, taking its gastronomic cues from the laid back towns lining the coast, like Nice, Cannes, and Marseille.
Thus, the menu-fillers drawn from “fond childhood memories” that Claude has of his own family holidays spent on the Riviera. Expect hearty stews, lightly cooked seafood, and plenty of herbs. Oh, and the name of the restaurant itself – Socca – is the French word for chickpea flour, so make sure to order some of their creamily delicious panisse (chickpea flour chips).
And as for the space itself? The building itself is steeped in history, having been the home of the former Richoux tea rooms since 1909. And having survived one century and two world wars, the pandemic finally killed it off (though it’s now happily been revived on Piccadilly). So Bosi and Nair have punched it up, bringing together an extremely ‘of the moment’ aesthetic with scallop shell lights, warm timber paneling, and blue leather banquette seating.
Given the pedigree of the chef and Nair’s apparently unstoppable flair for opening vastly popular Mayfair eateries, it’s perhaps not entirely surprising that expectations for Socca ran high… and aren’t quite met. There are flashes of brilliance, particularly when Bosi recreates nostalgic dishes like his mother’s tripe gratin. But details like the strangely high-intensity soundtrack, the marked-up wine list and prices that – even acknowledging the rising costs of ingredients, staffing, and everything else facing the hospitality industry – seem distinctly inhospitable mar an otherwise enjoyable experience.
Thankfully, there’s a well-heeled enough clientele round here to keep Socca going until it finds its feet.
NOTE: Socca is open now. You can find out more and make a booking at their website right HERE.
Socca | 41 S Audley St, W1K 2PS
Feeling peckish? Head to one of these excellent Mayfair restaurants.
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41 S Audley Street, Mayfair, W1K 2PS
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