Third on the list of London restaurants was Pollen St Social. This had been picking up a lot of buzz (and blog posts) back in London, some raving about how great it was, others a little less enthusive (particularly AA Gill) saying it was trying to be too clever and the menu was too complex. However I know that they listened to the criticism in the first week or so and changed things round a bit, so I wasn’t too worried. I had read a lot about Jason Atherton’s cooking and I was really keen to see what all the fuss was about. Incidentally I had managed to forget my Mother’s birthday so to try and make up for this I took her out for a fun Friday lunch.
I liked Pollen St from the moment I walked into it. Lots of light, nicely decorated without being flashy and a friendly welcome, it reminded me a little of the Ledbury which also has a quiet efficiency and sense of brilliance without being overstated. We got stuck in to two glasses of champagne, (I was really grovelling) and looked over the menu. Like Cambio de Tercio the night before Pollen St has a menu that can be many things. It has a very decently priced lunch menu at £23:50 for 3 courses, you can go traditional a la carte or you can pick a range of starters and create your own tasting menu. While I was of course grovelling, we decided to go for the set menu which had three options for each course and sounded great.
So to start I went for the scallop ceviche while Mum went for the slow cooked hen’s egg with hake. I suffered a bit of food envy here. Mum’s egg was cooked to perfection and came in a delicious basque sauce. It was exactly what you wanted to warm yourself up after a miserable walk in the rain from the tube station. I, on the other hand, need to remind myself more often that I don’t usually love the ceviche in English restaurants. I mean it was nice enough and looked very pretty but it’s not something I’d order again. It came sprinkled in iced dressing, which I always find kills the flavour rather than helps it but there you go.
Mains were far better. I went for the chicken while Mum went for the lamb shoulder. Both were beyond excellent. The chicken was tender and juicy and came with a delicious gravy that complimented it perfectly. The lamb was of a similar standard, again cooked perfectly and served with it’s own jus. Two big thumbs up from both of us.
For pudding I again buggered up my order. Being the intrepid foodie that I am I wanted to go for something that sounded a bit different. So I went for the basil sorbet with apricots. Turns out I don’t really like basil sorbet all that much. I don’t think I can blame Pollen St for this though. I’m sure if I liked basil sorbet more then I would be saying this was the perfect basil sorbet. It worked well as a palate cleanser but was quite over powering as a whole pudding. The apricot was perfectly nice but didn’t really get much of a chance with the basil sorbet on the plate.
So I had a pretty good meal at Pollen St but I really want to go back soon as I know I could have a “great” meal there. I’m going to save up some cash and come back for the real deal. I don’t know whether that means I’ll go a la carte or a tasting selection but the great thing about Pollen St is that I can do both!