Jason Atherton is chef-owner of Michelin-starred Pollen Street Social and was the former chef-patron of One Michelin-starred Maze and Maze Grill of big sweary Ramsey Holdings before he set off on his pursuit of culinary dominance. He was also the first British chef to complete a stage at Spain’s iconic three-Michelin-starred El Bulli under Ferran Adrià. His first solo venture, Pollen St Social, occupies a former Mayfair boozer. It’s a 60 cover restaurant with private dining, craft-booze trolleys, a cocktail and desert bar. I’ve had many a adventure in his restaurants and this one was without exception. And let’s be honest, earning a Michelin star in the first year of opening in 2011 is not to be sniffed at all. So onto the proceedings.
Monkey Business (£13.5) (Monkey Shoulder, Tentura, plum, apple balsamic). Deep and sweet flavours, any meal tastes better when you’re lubricated!
Their selection of whisky isn’t shabby either.
Nosing around en route to the toilet, all is there to see. And when you come to a place where they respect their ingredients so much, high level cookery of it should be standard.
There is a celebration of well made amuse bouche of smoked salmon with cream cheese, pea puree corn cake and blackberry & beetroot tart.
Here are the vegan versions – trust me when I say this though, this is the first time I’ve dined with a vegan and they don’t batter an eye lid when aiming to please those who only eat stuff that once photosynthesised.
Whipped butter, olive oil and bread game was on point.
Mushroom tea.. Quite savoury and meaty tasting.
Casalferro 2010 (Barone) £110. A highly marked up bottle but a very good drop nonetheless.
Colchester crab salad, apple & coriander, black garlic, lemon puree, brown crab on toast. (£18.50). Delicate and delicious – crab is one of my favourite crustaceans.
Cornish lamb loin, braised neck, roasted artichoke, merguez sausage, curds & whey. (£38). Lamb isn’t usually my go to choice, but loving this dish is a half-truth, I was smitten. The was loin so tender and moist, a knife was unnecessary. The braised neck had a punch of umami that I didn’t want to end. Those roasted artichoke hearts were magnificent too. All the ingredients deepened in flavour by the rich, rich jus and the side of vegetables with nuggets of merguez sausage were faultless. The sweetness of them were balanced by the tang of the curds & whey.
Jus all over my plate!
Pre-desert was a palate cleansing malt meringue, basil sorbet, yogurt foam and jade green drops of fragrant basil oil.
Better still was a combination of mouth-puckering sorbets and quite possibly the most refreshing & fruity ones I’ve had.
Marmalade cake, pain d’épices and sea buckthorn sorbet. (£13). Sea buckthron is a small Eurasian tree which typically grows on sandy coasts and grows orange berries. The Pain d’épices is spiced & honeyed then crested with candied citrus. The buckthorn sorbet resting on the jelly purveyed so much flavour and juice I was left floored on how good it was.
A post dinner whisky always seems to go down well regardless of the time of day. We went for a Nikka Coffey Malt (£16) which was divine.
Onto the petis fours. First up chilled chocolate – a far cry from the KP choc dips I used to gorge on as a kid.
The game-changing cherry & bakewell tart with chewy frangipane, crisp pastry and deep cherry flavours. It left us satisfied and stunned at how good it was. So much so, I had to visit the desert bar to pass on compliments – they returned the favour by giving us another for the way home!
Blackberry jellies in a vintage tin.
Cheeses that our neighbouring table were having.
When did I go? April 2016
The damage: £150 + per head with drinks.
The good: “Michelin-starred Pollen Street Social is a modern urban meeting point. A place to eat, drink and socialise, both for special occasions, and for informal everyday affairs.” I can’t disagree with the headline on their site to be honest, my time here was fun, memorable and the food, well, I loved without reservation! The lamb and marmalade cake are a true marvel. It’s certainly a place to dine for an occasion and a restaurant I can’t wait to visit again.
The bad: Getting a smile from our spectacled waitress was the same as getting blood from a stone!
Address: 8-10 Pollen St, London W1S 1NQ
Phone: 020 7290 7600
Closest tube/train station: Piccadilly Circus/Oxford Circus
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