Pollen Street Social (September 2012)

On being seated at Pollen Street on this occasion (my third visit) I was somewhat disappointed to be placed right by the kitchen with a direct view into the action itself. However, not only were my dining comrades comfortable facing out into the main, buzzy, dining area, but I ended up getting a superb insight into just why Pollen Street is so successful. Despite the restaurant being almost full on a Tuesday lunchtime, the whole operation worked superbly smoothly. The team in the kitchen appeared to be working in perfect harmony, always busy, but never rushed and the attention to detail seemed meticulous. This was also evidenced in our food. We all ate from the set lunch menu and between us tried all three of the starters, two of the three mains. All were presented beautifully. The food was wonderfully fresh and ingredients paired innovatively. The braised beef was tender and the best I had had for some time. The sommelier was also helpful in his suggestions and the list both varied and reasonably priced (wines from £25). Our Cote du Rhone Villages (at £39) was ideal for the food and the occasion. Minor quibbles would be (i) noise level – every time I have been here, I have had to raise my voice in order for my comrades on the opposite side of the table to be able to hear and (ii) a rather disorganised end to the meal – a long wait for cheese, coffee and the bill; and then all three arrived together. Just minor issues though and set lunch of this quality and in this atmosphere at the price (£24 for two courses, £27.50 for three) is hard to beat in London at present.