karohemd: Gentoo penguins in Antarctica, by me (Hungry)
I'd heard good things about Jason Atherton's first restaurant so decided to book a table for lunch there. Both bar and restaurant are elegant with a rather posh feel. The main restaurant room is bright and airy with a high ceiling, generously spaced tables, with the "dessert bar" on the opposite short side from where you can watch the chefs do their thing at pass and the kitchen through a huge glass window with an automatic sliding door for the serving staff.
Service was good, friendly and informative but almost in complete contrast to the lively staff at Roganic, it felt a bit stiff and impersonal. The food, however, was excellent. The choices on the set lunch menu didn't really excite me (one disadvantage of having had a rather unusual and extraordinary dinner the night before) so I went for a la carte.
I have to apologise for the quality of the photos, I only had my phone on me as I was going to a concert later in the evening where I couldn't have taken my big camera.

Pollen Street Social - Quail
The starter was pieces of quail, roasted pink with crispy skin on an intense "mushroom ketchup". An excellent way to start.

Pollen Street Social - Braised ox cheek and sirloin
For main, I had braised ox cheek and sirloin, with carrots and one the smoothest mashed potatoes I ever had (with a hint of horseradish that could have been a bit stronger for me). The generous lump of cheek fell apart when touched and was very flavourful, aided by the strong sauce. Another excellent, solid dish. With it I had a glass of a lovely Italian red.

As I was finishing my wine, Jason Atherton wandered past, stopped at my table, introduced himself and asked me what I thought of the food and we had a brief chat about food and cooking.

I then moved on to the dessert bar, where you sit on stools and can watch the pastry chefs as they prepare your dishes. I was sitting on the far end so had a good view of the kitchen:

Pollen Street Social - The Pass
While I was perusing the menu, I was served a scoop of fantastically light and fresh lime sorbet which wiped away the lingering richness of my main. Everything on the menu looked exciting but I went for "PBJ" in the end and I didn't regret it.
Pollen Street Social - PBJ
The dish consisted of various peanut (parfait, powder) and cherry elements (rich sorbet, coulis and "linguini") with a drizzle of vanilla syrup. This was a lot of fun and a great contrast of crunch, softness, tartness and sweetness. A perfect end to a nice meal.

On the way to the toilets, I walked past the caged wine stores and there's even a window with hanging meat next to what I assumed was the prep kitchen.

As I left, the purpose of the little key I'd been given became apparent. Behind the reception counter is a wall of small post boxes which contained a branded bag with two teacakes and a bag of tea to take home. I nibbled the cakes later on but I still have the bag as I don't really drink tea.

Overall, the food was excellent but the atmosphere was a bit too stiff for my liking. The prices of the food are acceptable for central London but I thought they took the mickey a bit with the wine. A 175ml glass of Malbec for £14 sounds a bit steep to me. I would definitely recommend it for the food as the standard of cooking is excellent.

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September 2017

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