Jason Atherton pretty much kick-started Londons posh small plate craze back at Maze, and has made a super smart move by opening up his new HQ right around the corner from Regent Street. Pollen Street Social is a fashion-y, smart, modern space, with even smarter modern art on the walls (some Gavin Turk, and a portrait of Princess Julia by Ben Ashton). After a little trial and error on opening, the menu has been simplified somewhat, although on ELLEuks visit it was the music that we found a little perplexing: U2s Mysterious Ways and some mid-90s Trade-sounding techno.
Were not a fine dining restaurant, explained the waiter. Fair enough, but while this room is smart enough for dinner with the parental unit and cool enough for the fashion crowd, it can be violently expensive. You can order a trad starter and a main (hovering around the £23 mark), but we were guided towards four small plates each (£8.50-£12.50 each). With pudding, a couple of flutes of Prosecco and a bottle of decent Pinot Noir (£40 its a spendy list) it came to £90 each.
If the bill alarms, the food doesnt annoy at all. Its fantastic. The Full English breakfast plate is a great goo of tomato, egg, bacon and mushroom. Theres irony afoot here, but fundamentally itd be sublime on sourdough toast at 8.30am. The hot oysters elements, on the hot and cold platter of Fowey oysters, were superb in little baths of consommé. Puddings were great the PBJ parfait with cherry jam was a perfect balance of salty and sweet and the rice pudding with ice-cream and lime jelly was lush.
But theres one stand-out, sensational dish at Pollen Street: cauliflower and squid. If someone opened a pop-up restaurant with Londons best small plates right now (and why dont they, and give us a cut?), this would be in the top five. The squid is diced to sweetcorn size, the cauliflower shaved like truffle, the stock is clear and strong and the taste is something to write home about at length. Next time we go to PSS, we might just order four plates of it.
The ELLEuk Score
Style of food: Contemporary British bistro/small plates
Good for: Quick bite after work; Pre-theatre; Special occasion; First date; Romantic; Group dinner; Work lunch/dinner
Prices and Other Details at Pollen Street Social
Address: Pollen Street Social, 8-13 Pollen Street, London W1S 1NQ
Average price per person for two course meal without wine: £40
Set menu: Lunch only, two courses £20, three courses £23.50.
Price of bottle house wine: £33.50, Pollen Street Social Sélection, Anjou, Clos de l'Elu.
Price of glass house wine: £8, as above
Price glass house champagne: £12.50, Jacquesson Brut Cuvée no. 734
Price bottle house champagne: £65, as above
Private dining? Basement area seats up to 16
Bar? For cocktails and/or dining from the bar menu
Best tables? The main room is much of a muchness, but the six stools at the dessert bar are worth trying to book to watch whats being prepared and order according to what takes your fancy.
Who goes? The art crowd from Mayfair and neighbouring fashion editors
Nearest tube: Oxford Circus