It’s been quite some time since my last visit to Social. The restaurant has since garnered a new chef at the helm, and while the restaurant looks pretty much the same, there are subtle changes which have made all the difference in the ambiance and general feel of the place.
Our server Juan is fantastic, giving us cocktail suggestions among other things. I loved the movie, so naturally, Princess Bride – You Killed My Father ($14) immediately catches my eye. Its base is Ketel One vodka, with Rose Wine Shrub, strawberry basil, citrus, and rose water. We loved the rose petal garnish secured by a teenie tiny clothes pin.
If you’re a bourbon fan, Let’s Get HI-biscus – Legalize It ($14) is for you! Bulleit Bourbon, hibiscus-pomegranate montenegro lemon, and egg whites, complete this cocktail. Then there is the classic Moscow Mule ($14) with the most potent gingery finish in your mouth — absolutely stunning!
To start, there is Burrata Raviolini ($19) little delightful pockets of pillowy ravioli dotted with walnut pesto, and garnished with thinly sliced compressed kumquats. The beurre blanc sauce is nice and light, which doesn’t take away from the delicate flavors of the burrata-stuffed ravioli.
My friend wants to try Pork Buns ($8) and these are decent. Nicely rendered pork belly is paired with cucumbers pickled in salt and sugar, sambal, and hoisin sauce. I like how the bun is not overwhelmingly thick, and the filling to bun ratio is balanced.
Ceviche Tostadas ($8) are little portions of crispy tortillas with rock shrimp, avocado puree, grilled scallions, red onion, and cucumber. It desperately needed acid, which we quickly rectified by squeezing some lime on it. Delicious!
My favorite way to eat is to order a bunch of small plates and share with my friends. I love that Wood Fired Lamb Lollipops ($14.50) is enough for two, or four to share. There are two thick double chops on the plate with a beautifully rich demi glace, seasoned with mustard seeds and tarragon. The cherries add a hint of sweetness which pairs nicely with the robust lamb.
One of my favorite dishes is Spanish Octopus ($19.50) Pamplona chorizo, fingerling potatoes, gremolata, chicharrones, smoked romesco complete this stunning dish.
Loving small plates aside, I am not able to resist the Wood Fired Branzino ($49) from the blackboard. It is definitely meant for sharing and is a gorgeous display when it arrives. The whole branzino is de-boned and the citrus glaze permeates throughout the crispy skin. We can’t stop eating the glorious forbidden rice which sits on the bottom of the serving board, soaking up all the flavors from the various components. Citrus such as blood orange and grapefruit help cleanse the palate between bites. This is an outstanding dish which I highly recommend.
I’m stoked to find SOCIAL at the top of its game. There were hiccups along the way, but it feels like SOCIAL has found its rhythm and riding high on good vibrations.
512 W 19th St
Costa Mesa, CA 92627