Jason Atherton's new venture Pollen Street Social opened in April to mixed reviews. Reminiscent of my visit to Atherton's previous haunt, Gordon Ramsey's Maze, I went with something of an open mind having considered both the good and the so so reviews and, naturally, investigating in advance what the menu has to offer.
The room itself, as the name implies, is a buzzy, relaxed space with a large bar area and that famed dessert bar encouraging a more laid back approach to dining. Our table was in the left hand side of the building which I found to be a little chilly in temperature. The chef himself roamed the floor at various points throughout the evening, checking on how things were going out front which was nice to see.
We were presented with a choice of bread before we'd even been given a menu or a drink. Something to eat first, an unusual but very welcome order to proceedings! The bread was excellent, there was a choice of sliced wholemeal and sourdough with a salt cod spread as well as some unsalted butter. We ordered an Eastside, a pink lady and some tap water to get us started.
To start I had the cauliflower & squid in a clear roasted squid juice. A very pretty dish, the broth poured out at the table. The squid had an incredible softness and the broth was wonderfully rich. The whole dish was slightly colder than I'd expected, perhaps because the plate was cold, I don't recall.
Thomas' starter of smoked foie gras with black sesame and smoked golden raisins was less successful with the fruit overpowering the foie gras.
Onto the mains and my Cotswold lamb, braised belly and artichoke with sheep’s milk curd was an interesting plate. I found the lamb rack itself not as tender as I would have liked but I loved the curd and the belly had an excellent flavour. It was beautifully presented with a scattering of flowers.
The most memorable dish of the night was Thomas' roasted dingley dell pork belly with beetroot, hops, seeds and grains. Claims that this is the finest dish Thomas has ever had made me grin from ear to ear. It was indeed a tremendous combination of textures and flavours and look at that crackling, puffed up like popcorn!
Onto dessert and for me a traditional English rice pudding with hay ice cream and lime jelly. This was spectacular. I've never eaten hay so was unsure what to expect but there was a malty note to the ice cream. The lime was perfect with the rich creamy vanilla flecked rice pudding. My favourite course of the night.
The rhubarb, ginger and vanilla cheesecake with rhubarb sorbet and nut crumble was less memorable. We had wine by the glass, the pollen street social selection is lovely. The damage, for 3 courses and 3 drinks each, was £150, not bad at all and interesting to note we were both perfectly full, it's not necessary to order more than one starter per person as was the case in the first couple of weeks of opening. Though multiple starters can be ordered to create a tasting menu as the menu suggests, I'd love to come back and do just that.
Upon arrival each table is presented with a key which, when exiting, is exchanged for a gift. This was 'tea on us' comprising of a teabag and 2 friands. I enjoyed mine as soon as I got home, what a nice touch.
Pollen Street Social
8-10 Pollen Street