How should someone describe one of Severna Park’s newest restaurants, The Social? Perhaps it's best to say it lives up to its name. It's got a welcoming feel. I think it's the mix of pleasant greeters, retro artwork, modern style, a unique offering of food served with pizazz, and friendly wait staff with a down-home vibe.
There are many seating options — you can choose the large bar area, high seats, booths, or like my dining companion and I, a table for two; the restaurant has lots of these, so it's easy to accommodate a cozy meal with a friend or a larger group.
Our waiter, Kerry, was professional and friendly. Our drinks arrived quickly. I ordered iced tea, slightly sweetened with simple syrup, and my companion ordered a martini.
My companion picked the Prince Edward Island mussels for an appetizer, and I chose shrimp and fried green tomatoes. The mussels were a hit, with tender meat. I enjoyed sopping up the buttery garlic sauce, further flavored by the "taste of the sea" from the mussels, with a crusty grilled baguette.
My fried green tomatoes looked like a food sculpture. Two tomatoes atop a plate of greens were topped with sauteed jumbo shrimp, and the dish was drizzled from top to bottom with an excellent remoulade sauce.
I was looking forward to this dish after admiring it on Facebook. After popping the sauteed shrimp in my mouth, I sliced into the tomatoes. I've never been able to fry a green tomato that's crisp on the outside. The chef here gets it right. The tomatoes were bright green and tender and had the perfect tangy — almost sweet — taste you want in this dish. Combining the tomatoes with the greens provided a satisfying, savory taste, and the sauce was a combination of spicy and slightly sweet. I discerned a hint of the mustard and a little Old Bay. Overall, it was balanced well with just the right kick.
I picked the shrimp tacos for entrees, and my friend got one of the night's specials — seafood copping.
Our first impression of the tacos was how colorful they were — topped with purple cabbage, red radishes, and cilantro. They came with cilantro lime aioli and a vinaigrette.
Though the taco fillings were flavorful — the combined crunchiness of the cabbage and radishes, the perfectly prepared shrimp, and the spicy sauces — the shells were the best. They're homemade (everything at The Social is), and the corn flavor was surprisingly pronounced.
The highlight for both of us was the seafood cioppino. "Wow!" my companion exclaimed. “Every bite is bursting with flavor!" And it was. This rich aromatic soup/chowder was chock full of healthy goodies: shrimp, mussels, monkfish, carrots, celery, onions and tomatoes. After a few bits, I commandeered a portion and savored every bite. Add a piece of that baguette, and you'd have a cold-weather meal that will warm your cockles, though we loved it in August! I don't know the secret of this dish, but in my mind, I imagine the chef simmering the seafood for hours before adding the vegetables to give this soup its bold taste.
The finale was a piece of key lime pie. What it lacked in size, it made up for in taste. This delightfully zesty treat was covered in fresh whipped cream and had a dollop of soft, slightly toasted marshmallow cream on the side. It was a luscious finish to a fabulous meal.
The bill was about $80 for two appetizers, two entrees and dessert, without the drinks — pretty reasonable.
We will return to The Social frequently. We want to try many foods, and we like the atmosphere. I hope to see you there!