Pollen Street Social [London]
In an uncharacteristically cool fashion I managed to get a reservation for the opening night of Jason Atherton's new place on Pollen Street last night.
It's a very clever menu that lets you do a la carte, or design your own tasting menu or just select a whole host of plates. Sharing is very much encouraged and 'London's first dessert bar' breaks up the meal and allows you to not only watch the pastry chefs but also look directly into Atherton's kitchen.
Tomato and Tomato was a light fresh salad of yellow, red, green tomatoes, an intense tomato gazpacho-like sauce and herbs with an incredible tomato sorbet. Still lacked a little something, it was advertised with vanilla but I didn't really pick that up.
The cured salmon was extraordinary with the texture of smoked salmon but with salmon skin jelly on top and a herring roe cream.
The Full English Breakfast won't surprise anyone who tasted Atherton's famous BLT. It is a deconstruction with tomato and mushroom purees, a 90-minute poached egg, bacon and a white bread foam. Wonderful dish.
Red gambas, seaweed tea consommé, dumplings & ginger sounded extremely exciting but was in the event a bit of a letdown. Two prawns meant it was done in a second and the theatre of the consomme dripping through the basket to the excellent dumplings didn't really make up for it. I think I was disappointed as the description was so good.
Two meat dishes, Pork Belly and cheek and Ox tongue n cheek (geddit) were both sensational, so rich and the cheeks were wonderfully tender with the lightest crackling I've ever tasted - the consistency of a soft prawn cracker. Hard to imagine how these could have been better.
A radish salad that accompanied the meats was disappointing although it had samphire, which I love, which rescued it.
For desserts there is a trio of mini desserts that isn't on the menu which you can request. It includes a 'ham, cheese and herbs' which is actually watermelon, candied goat’s curd and basil sorbet. This was brilliant and classic Atherton - so clever but yet so tasty. The tiramasu, PBJ (Parfait, cherry jam, creamed rice puffs, Sangria mousse, blood orange granita, curd milk jam) and a rhubarb and ginger vanilla cheesecake were all very good as well.
On the night of the 50 best restaurants - and I'm sure fellow CHs will appreciate this - we were slightly starstruck to see Thomas Keller, Grant Achatz and Daniel Boulud wander past us and into the kitchen.
We didn't hold back - two cocktails, one bottle and two glasses of wine, dessert wine, 7 courses to share, a trio of desserts, an ALC dessert and coffee. Total bill was £230 but we could have cut that down by £100 if we'd been being careful.
In conclusion this place is superb, if you liked Maze under Atherton you will love this. There are hits and misses but it is without doubt a hugely exciting opening and I can't recommend it enough.
This may sound like a puff piece and I am unashamedly an Atherton fanboy as Maze was the first real eye-opening restaurant I went to, but objectively PSS is every so slightly hit and miss but very very good.
we went yesterday and having seen mixed feedback decided to go with the set lunch.
i had fish soup (very good, perfectly cooked fish and packed with flavour) followed by braised lamb with peas beans & pasta (disappointing - the pasta was overcooked and the vegetable sauce oversalted; i didn't think the idea of the dish worked either but maybe that's just due to the pasta stodge). my oh had the salmon to start and it was completely flavourless, his main wasn't much better - the proper roast chicken (i did love the bread sauce component thought which was great with the roasted onion).
puddings - i asked for the micro menu (not promoted at all) and enjoyed them all apart from the ham, cheese & herbs but that's more about me not liking ham. my oh had the set chocolate sponge, grapefruit sorbet and tea jelly which was v good.
the brown sourdough bread was fabulous and the cocktails were amazing - i particularly loved the gimlet where the gin is carbonated.
in summary, i 'd go back for a set lunch if a friend needed a dining comapnion but wouldn't return under my own steam - even where dishes were good, for me, none of the food was interesting or exciting.
I've read a few other reviews of PSS on blogs and in the papers and there were a couple of other pieces of advice that occurred to me based on reading them
A lot of people seem confused by the menu, YSL above has it spot on. The London Evening Standard review was very negative about the 'sharing' aspect. What I would say is that the sharing plates are not really suitable for sharing between more than 2 people. I'm not sure what the critic expected was coming for £10 that could be adequately divided between 5!
The mains have had good reports but Atherton's skill showcased at Maze was in the small plates and the create-your-own tasting menu. I have to say I really think the PSS experience would be better doing it that way.
As I said above and judging from some reviews there is a tiny element of hit and miss on the starter plates so it is worth doing your research before you go.
On desserts, I'm not sure if the micro-menu is now being publicised but we only got it by asking. It's £15 for three desserts and again is a much better way to try them. All three that my partner ate were better than the one I had ALC which just shows why it's such a good idea.
Sounds great - I can't wait to try it. After seeing him on Saturday Kitchen last weekend we checked the website and there was a lunch reservation available for this Friday, slightly kicking myself now we didn't take it up. Although the lunch menu didn't look anywhere near as appetising as the dinner menu.
I went yesterday as a Birthday treat and loved it. The set lunch menu is great value at 3 courses for £25, but we opted for a selection of the sharing plates and then to the dessert bar (skipping the main dishes on the menu altogether) to create our own tasting menu, if you will.
Won't go into too much detail but what I loved was how there were no hard and fast rules to it all, want to skip a main and have more starter/sharing dishes instead? No problem at all. Want to order a sharing dish then several desserts? Again, no problem. They're letting you set your own menu depending on what you fancy and I admire their flexibility.