Saturday, 13 August 2011

Pollen Street Social

Pollen st social
Post Camp Bestival, I felt like I deserved a few nice dinners...and I'd heard great things about Jason Atherton, the chef who runs Pollen Street Social.
I mentioned that I was going on Twitter:
 'Get the cocktails, they are amazing' I was advised.
 I was also recommended the 'Burrata, heirloom tomato, gazpacho starter'.
The first thing I noticed was the special stool for your handbag... I guess if you've spent £600 on a bag you don't want its expensive bottom on the floor. Mine cost £30 from Hennes but I appreciate the thought.
handbag stool at Pollen st social
Then we ordered some of the famous cocktails which were spectacular:
fancy cocktail at Pollen St Social

Pollen St Social
The ladeez were given a key and promised a little present to collect at the end. This turned out to be a canelé cake. 
Pollen St Social
Amuse bouche: blah dip, cute butter board, bread not bad (ear of corn), but seconds not offered.
Pollen St Social

Pollen St Social
 I ordered the famous Burrata, heirloom tomato, gazpacho starter. Ok, how to explain the size of it without actually taking a ruler for scale. The top pic looks...well large doesn't it? The second pic gives you more of an idea. Three 'heirloom' tomato segments in a vast white bowl. A tea spoon, literally, of burrata. A quenelle of tomato sorbet. Then they did that posh poury thing of the gazpacho around the work of art in the middle. I've done it meself. The punters love that kinda shit and it's a great way of making a soup more interesting with some kind of food sculpture in the middle.
But Jase my love, why so fucking mean with the burrata? I LOVE burrata. This was a prick tease of a dish and not in a good way. With burrata you want a bulging testicle of a cheese curd, that you can gobble teabag style (look it up you bunch of vanillas), not a mingy tea spoon. And the heirloom tomatoes...they may have been different colours but they tasted crap: acidic, flavourless, hard, cold. Tomato sorbet...meh. Gazpacho, another thing I totally love when done right, but it was pretty bland, under-salted too, and no discernable sherry. Nicely plated, a few strands of borage, a pansy petal ect, all very current, all very cheffy, but so what ultimately. Where was the flavour and the hospitality, the generosity? Movie executives talk about 'seeing the money on the screen'. What they mean is, the budget was evident in the movie, it wasn't wasted. For me, this dish wasn't worth £9.50p. I felt deprived. The money wasn't on the plate.
Pollen St Social
Cauliflower squid with poury broth thing again.
Pollen St Social
Fish. Samphire. Apparently quite nice.
Pollen St Social
Came with mini copper pan of paella. Tasted it. Good.
Pollen St Social
Ox cheeks. My companion liked it. Nobody ever uses the word companion except in a restaurant review.
Pollen St Social
I decided to order from the vegetarian menu for my main. This pasta sounded lovely, girolles with cream, summer truffle I think, or was that the Swiss cheese grated on top? I had to ask the waiter to keep going with the cheese. Meanie. Anyway as I chewed through the gritty girolles and the dull sticky penne, and played hunt the salsify (very small bits), the head waiter asked us if we were enjoying our meal. I shrugged. His jaw dropped. He came closer:
 "You don't like it?" he asked incredulous. 
"It's, er, well, boring." 
"It's boring? Boring?" He couldn't believe his ears. 
 "It's ok, I'm not sending it back, it's just not very interesting".  
He straightened his back and sniffed "I'll let the chef know". 
As he was parting, I called out "Don't spit in my food".
This was quite bad behaviour on my part (note to self: no cocktails ever again), especially as it was a business lunch. But my fellow eaters agreed:
 "It tastes like a stir-in sauce!"
Pollen St Social
Puddings: we were into stronger territory here. LOVED the candied tarragon and will copy forthwith. Was interested in the hay ice cream as want to do some cooking experiments with hay, but there wasn't that much of a hay flavour. This pudding was supposed to come with rice pudding, pessimistically I thought maybe it was a couple of grains hidden underneath the garnish but fortunately a little copper pan of vanillary rice pud arrived to accompany it.
Pollen St Social
This was good too, with some sort of astronauts air-dried candy on top. (Remember eating something like that in the Washington 'Space' museum).
Pollen St Social
Maybe it's me though. I just don't think I get posh restaurants, I'm too much of a peasant. If it's all form and little content (taste) then I get depressed and fractious. But customers/critics/bloggers seem to like that here. But it leads me to ask: Can the English cook? And do they know how to eat? Why do people want to go to restaurants and pay lots of money for teeny weeny portions?


  1. I went right on opening so didn't blog it, but I wasn't overwhelmed. Portions were extremely small for the price and the fussiness seemed to be for fussiness' sake, not to add deliciousness. Some of the dishes I did like, but others were nice but, as you say, a bit "so what" given the price. I thought the dessert bar the strongest aspect and there's only room for a few people a night.

  2. But it's full every night and just won some award...weird!

  3. Really disappointed. Food wasn't even ok - all pretty bland and as you say tiny, tiny portions. Best thing was the steak but not worth the eye-watering £42. Service was diabolical - maybe I don't understand 'new' London. Didn't bother staying for the puddings - nipped down the road to Sketch for some fancy cakes.

  4. Agree, all of the way, I really didn't like it (, and then have tried in a half arsed-ish way to go back and see whether it's just me, and then gone to Goodman instead... at that kind of price it isn't acceptable to be small and only slightly interesting, like a foodie Alexa Chung, you need to make people feel like they've had a really special experience.


  5. Well, I've certainly eaten at plenty of terribly posh restaurants where the individual portions look small. But if I leave the restaurant with a comfortably-full feeling then they have delivered the right quantity no matter how tiddly the plates looked (quality, different issue). Of course, I've left some posh restaurants still feeling like I could polish off a kebab, so there are indeed some mean buggers out there. That gazpacho looked mean.

    But there are plenty of posh restaurants that can deliver a filling meal of tiny portions. Probably largely through sustained levels of massive calorific intake in each tiny course! Bless 'em.

  6. I really do like the pomp and splendour of these posh places, and I think the portion size allows you to savour the delicacy of flavour more.

    I haven't been to this place yet, but shall definately be keeping an open mind.

  7. "look it up you vanillas'...Brilliant! I laughed out loud. Atherton has a restaurant in Sydney now, and ( Kensington St Local) , and I have been thinking of going for my birthday, on the strength of this I may let some of my more well heeled friends try it out before I commit Seems like a shame if - other than your main which sounds terrible, and why did they not offer to give you a drink or something else, small gesture, but goes a long way towards good feeling - the food was otherwise good and portioj size is what prevented you enjoyingit.

    1. I went to another one of his restaurants and there was nothing veggie on the menu really. So I ordered 'poutine' but asked for it to be veggie. Along came a bowl of chips with some cheese on top and pickled jarred jalapeños. Dreadful.


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