Pollen Street Social, Mayfair, London
Outstanding service: friendly, efficient and down to earth. Foodwise, extremely refined technique, with all the parts perfectly tuned texture wise. Some truly excellent dishes, but also flavour combinations that felt ordinary, or flavours that failed to harmonise. Somewhat heavy salting that threatened the balance of a few dishes.
A golden luxuriant yolk, earthy mushroomy puree, light fruity tomato puree, elegant chips of ultra thin bacon. Might also have been croutons somewhere,iirc. (Ate there a while ago, so some details might be foggy.) Each lovely on its own as a example of careful finessed cooking. But combined in the English breakfast, the flavours and textures together was merely pleasant and somewhat ordinary. Also pieces of what I thought were morels; if true, probably will be at its best in the spring.
Cream envelopes perfect little ivory cubes of squid, along with cauliflower in sliced sections, and beneath that, kombu-like seaweed. Richness backed with umami. However, the heavy salt tears at the edges of the core flavours.
Beautifully moist, silken halibut, probably some of the most delicate cooking I've had in a while, typical of the kitchen's technical skill. The true marvel, however, is the paella, with concentrated stocky flavours , meaty and rich, and spices dancing in the background. Great texture too, the nubs of rice suspended in just the right level of starchy broth, the centre of each grain with a delightful bite of resistance. Marvelous enough that one overlooks the fairly heavy salting, that if a bit restrained, would make this superb dish even better.
Great mashed potatoes with an undercurrent of horseradish, classic with the 3 cuts of beef - a brief and tender sirloin, a fine fibred and meaty tongue, and braised cheek, remarkably refined, with fibres that slid apart easily. Supported with a glossy and smooth reduction.
Puffy sangria mousse, a dense curd, then granita for interesting textural transitions. Nothing revelatory, but quite pleasant.
Interesting to try watermelon, pressed into the texture of thickly sliced ham, But the big heavy herb flavours in the basil sorbet clashes with the pungent goat's curd. And watermelon, in its ham disguise, as well as in granita form, fail to negotiate any compromise.
Elegantly crunchy puffed rice in the PBJ. A nice combination of fruity cherry (sauce and slices of membrillo-like cherry jelly which they call cherry tagilatelle) with extremely smooth peanut ice cream.
The detailed cooking was very impressive at the level of individual components, but the compositions as a whole for each dish vary in deliciousness from one to the other, the ultimate effect occasionally extraordinary, but also occasionally merely pleasant or even slightly ordinary. On the whole, it was the classic flavour combinations that seemed the most successful; and the more interesting combinations, while having a certain classic basis, were interesting rather than delicious. Prices were very reasonable considering its location in Mayfair. Best part was probably the service, have to reiterate how wonderful the staff there were.
Pollen Street Social
10 Pollen St, London, England W1S 1, GB
I ate a PSS on the Friday before New Year and I think Limster's comment "...the ultimate effect occasionally extraordinary, but also occasionally merely pleasant or even slightly ordinary" perfectly sums up our experience.
It also seems like we had similar tastes we had a Parsley Soup, the Cauliflower and Squid, the Full English, a slow cooked egg, and the ox cheek, tongue and sirloin. The dishes were good but nothing really jumped out and made me think wow that is good.
I agree the service is good but we were disappointed to be sat in the bar not he main restaurant. I would have no problem with this if we had been informed about it before arrived, either when we booked or when we received the confirmation, but nothing was said. The bar is perfectly pleasant and they have a few tables set for meals, but it isn't in the heart of the action in the main restaurant - so I advise checking this when you book.
Great catching up with you again, limster. Pics of Pollen Street Social's decadent desserts from yesterday's meal. Interesting how the desserts, each a rather beautiful work of art, will be placed in front of a diner, before the chef then completed the composition by adding the last component with a flourish:
- in the case of the traditional English goat's milk rice pudding, served with wafer-thin slices compressed plum and plum ripple ice-cream, the warm rice pudding was spooned onto the plate, around the artfully-arranged translucent plum discs layered topped with ice-cream, then served a la minute;
- for the apple caramel "puff" with vanilla ice-cream, the strong Calvados-infused creme was poured onto the light-as-air golden-crisp leaves of puff pastry just before serving, to avoid any sogginess setting in. I liked this dessert best.