Restaurant Review: Social by Heinz Beck

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Last week marked my fourth wedding anniversary and the launch of my husbands new business, sublime excuses to treat ourselves to culinary delight. In a city littered with Michelin star chefs, but no Michelin star restaurants – a curious dichotomy, we had our pick of fine dining establishments. Opting for European fare we ventured to the outer most crescent of the Palm to celebrate at Social by Heinz Beck. A restaurant led by a chef not only famous for his modern gastronomy but also for his Italian treasure, La Pergola, Rome’s only three-Michelin starred restaurant. 

The grand Waldorf Astoria houses Social which occupies a sprawling space draped in walnut surfaces and beige upholstery, simple and effortless elegance. Beck’s unique culinary approach extends far beyond the plate at Social where he has completely redefined the meaning of open kitchen, an automatic sliding glass door is the only thing that separates the chefs workshop from diners. As the transparent door retracts, the behind the scenes bustle and subtle aromas of the industrial kitchen are revealed, quite literally inviting guests into the chefs world.

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The ambiance was intimate and relaxed when we arrived with a handful of other patrons, we were greeted by a champagne trolley as we sat down.  I scanned the menu in fascination, stopping at the Duck foie gras with apple, almonds, and amaretti and again at the Celery risotto a la Waldorf, a signature dish of the Waldorf internationally. Several inquisitions later, our order was placed and we indulged in saffron and wasabi prawn crackers awaiting the main event.

A variety of amuse bouche (pictured above) arrived quickly, staring at me in unity and confidently awaiting their demise. The beetroot macron with wasabi cream danced gracefully across my taste buds. It was hard to believe I just consumed some variation of cake as the root vegetable and wasabi aroma swept through my nasal passage. A set of silver spoons with liquefied olives were the next victims,  the opaque spheres had the consistency of water balloons. A mere puncture of the exterior and the curious hor d’oeuvre ruptured with olive juice much to my amusement, perfectly embodying the word amuse bouche which translates literally to “mouth amuser.” The first word that sprung to mind was inventive. I impatiently awaited the courses to come.

We settled on the Grilled Tuna to start which was seared beautifully lying in a bed of fennel and red onions. A dash of artisan salts and a few dollops of sweet Mediterranean perfume earned our attention immedietely. The Lobster Ravioli followed, compliments of the chef, the large dumplings were hidden beneath a heaping mound of saffron foam. The underlying sweet pea puree made for a harmonious combination against the bitter spice and lobster enveloped within.
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I was looking forward to the Sea Bass in a licorice crust with almond cream which had received unanimous praise via reviews but was disappointed to find the dish removed from Social’s updated menu. I settled on a similar rendition of sea bass with a Christmas-like appearance, encrusted in forest green herbs resting in a pool of red pepper sauce. The fish was robust but didn’t compare to my husbands Beef tenderloin, the tenderized volcano of meat was drenched in a lava of apple-onion jus. The sweet and savory contrast was reason enough to lunge across the table and confiscate his meal, luckily my husband is accustomed to sharing so we were able to avoid a dinner brawl.
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For dessert we opted for Mr. Beck’s signature dessert, the Raspberry 1.0, a unique interpretation of the fruit and half the reason I choose Social to begin with. The crimson circus arrived complete with the 11 different preparations of raspberry of which I could only identify 9: crystallized, meringue, sorbet, sponge cake, cookie, chocolate, mousse, jelly and fresh. An explosion of tastes and textures, this dessert is the work of an artist, genius. A celebratory Cheesecake with subtle apricot jelly undertones followed alongside a variety of petit fours, all leaving an impression.
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Needless to say you won’t leave hungry or without new found friends, we ended our evening just short of exchanging numbers with our chatty waiter and received a signed card from the entire staff with anniversary wishes. Chef Heinz Beck embodies the word artist, the plate is his canvas and the kitchen is his studio. You will leave Social with a new found appreciate for this culinary artistry which is reason alone to celebrate. We couldn’t have picked a better place to spend the evening, maybe next year we’ll celebrate again with Chef Heinz Beck, but at La Pergola in Rome!