Despite one’s groaning stomach after many excess festivities, one felt compelled to visit Pollen Street Social once a booking was secured. Hurrah for London at this time of year for one can get cherished reservations that would normally be impossible. Your Doctor’s wish list has long been burdened with this eatery, so it is gratifying to be able to place a rather large and happy tick against it.
Pollen Street is tucked away behind Regent Street at the Oxford Circus end of business. It is a small, short road and one can imagine Jack the Ripper skulking around late at night in search of his next victim. (Poetic license dear friends, yes one knows he operated in Whitechapel..Harrumph!!). It’s large, modern restaurant with a modern bar bedecked with bar stools.
One noticed that there were a lot of staff milling around. About ten of them (I counted!) near us. It was early and they were obviously expecting a deluge of clientele. However, it was a bit annoying having them flying all over the place and to begin with service seemed somewhat rushed and overzealous. After receiving our amuse bouches, bread and starter in short order, I mentioned to the young waiter that we were not in a hurry. Things came at a better pace from that point. Anyhow, back to the beginning!
Having convinced one’s trusty companion Fortescue to join me, this was potentially going to be a disaster. “Why?” I here you declaim. Well, as one’s regular readers will know Fortescue is a traditional eater. You know the sort of thing, meat and two veg, steak and chips, mince pies, sausage rolls etc. So given that Monsieur Atherton (the restaurateur who owns this eatery – keep up!) likes to do some clever things with his dishes, there was a strong chance that Fortescue would not be amused by the menu. A good sign that he was in the mood for a beano came when he ordered a gin and tonic. He was presented with a unfeasibly large and interesting list of gins from which to choose. Wondrous! So one felt compelled to order a dry Martini..(a very risky thing to do in London!! American chums please take note. One does not order a cocktail in a pub in the UK unless you want disappointment to follow. See here for where you can get a decent cocktail in London).
The Martini arrived. One was surprised to see that the cocktail was not served in a traditional glass. “Oops”, one thought this is not going to be good. One has been subjected to trendy ideas on Martinis in the past and not with great success. However, the lemon garnish was very attractive which offered hope. (see daguerreotype above.) Well hurrah and hallelujah…what a marvellous Martini it turned out to be. I sent my thanks to the Barman who came over to reveal his secret. Well, not really so secret, as we all know to make a Martini don’t we? Yet, one has fallen into lax ways having straight, very cold gin sans vermouth. Not even a splash. So the introduction of the classic Noilly Prat was a wonderful reminder of how a proper martini should be made. His ratio was 60ml gin to 10ml Noilly Prat…if you wish to know. Hurrah! This is now my new mix for 2016 and beyond.
Then disaster struck. Fortescue peered over the top of his reading glasses and declared he “didn’t like anything on the lunch menu”. “Now look here old chum” methought. “It’s time to take a chance on something a little different..man cannot live by pork pie alone!” methought. Dear readers, just take a look at the menu if you are interested..is there really anything there that does not grab your fancy?
Fortescue examined the a-la-carte menu…”oh dear, this might turn out expensive” methought. “erm, Fortescue..the a-la-carte is quite expensive?” I remarked tentatively. He glared and retorted forcefully “I just don’t like anything on the menu. I don’t understand what the courses are, why can’t they write in plain English?”
“What? Ham hock terrine?”..I retorted.
“I don’t like ham hock!” declared Fortescue emphatically.
“woah..tetchy”..methought and I did not enquire further.
So, with that it was off to the a-la-carte. No more £42 for 3 courses. This was going to melt the credit card.
So for me..(a-la-carter also!) Veal tartare to start. Red Leg Partridge with cottage pie shaved truffles and for dessert Lincolnshire Apple cake…yum. .
Fortescue plumped for the Roasted Squash velouté, followed by suckling pig and finally the bitter orange soufflé.
One will not labour on descriptions of the food, suffice to say each course was excellent, really excellent. As one would expect from a Michelin starred restaurant. We received many little extras along the way.. ergo, the amuse bouches in the picture above. Mushroom consommé with parmesan foam which had a wonderfully rich flavour. One could easily have asked for more. A little tart as a pre-dessert and some chocolates and fruit jelly to finish.
Olivia, the young wine waitress was very knowledgeable and had steered us towards the Anjou from the Loire which was a Pollen Street selected wine. Very palatable indeed but not exactly cheap at £39 a bottle for what they considered their house wine.
The restaurant got quite busy though surprisingly it wasn’t full but this was the day after Boxing Day. We lingered over our lunch and finally staggered out into the London air at about 3pm feeling sated.
“That was excellent” declared Fortescue
“Hurrah!” methought..and it really had turned out to be a jolly good day.
A bientot mes amis! and a Happy New Year to all one’s readers.
Pollen Street Social