Pollen Street Social: No signs of standards slipping (January 2017)

Barely a month goes by without, it seems, an announcement concerning the expansion of Jason Atherton’s restaurant empire. Despite the proliferation of his restaurants across London, he is still intimately involved with his flagship venue and a recent visit here reinforced why Mr. Atherton is continuing to enjoy almost unbridled success. Two things stood out from our visit: first, the food here is all about flourish combined with flawlessness; next, it is also exceptionally good value – at least if you opt for the set menu. It is a relatively rare thing for staff to be as enthusiastic and as welcoming as they are at Pollen Street, from the front-of-house team to the serving staff arriving with their flourishes of amuses-bouche even prior to receiving the menus. At lunch, while ordering a la carte is obviously tempting, it seems foolish not to go for the set option (£32 for two courses), especially given all the bonus snacks thrown in. A brief scan down the menu highlights just how enterprising Atherton is, seeking to combine ingredients and textures that may not always be obvious. Crayfish with vanilla and pumpkin purée, for example, worked exceptionally well as a starter as did a main of braised west country ox cheek, enhanced with a snail Bourguignonne. Presentation throughout was amazing – and it was all done in what seemed to be a remarkably effortless way. We paired our food with a fine bottle from the Loire, chosen from an extensive list which offers both the traditional and the more alternative. Our miniature chocolate mousses (on the house) that arrived prior to our coffees were also excellent, perhaps an incentive to choose from the main menu next time!