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Pollen Street Social.


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#1 david goodfellow

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Posted 19 April 2011 - 06:54 AM

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A little more than a cockstride from Maze, five hundred metres in fact. Jason Atherton has finally realised his own dream opening. And what a dream it is. I bet he's pinching himself. From the cocktail bar, through to the restaurant proper, with dessert bar to your left and super state of the art glass fronted kitchen to its right.You can watch the chefs at work losing a few calories, whilst you work your way through a few more. It does not stop there. Down the stairs is a glass fronted private dining area, another kitchen, again glass fronted, and to keep the theme going glass fronted loos for a very posh pee and perk up. The whole space is fabulous. Top marks to the design team.

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General Manager Michael West with customer at the dessert bar which is flooded with natural light from above. The glass fronted kitchen in the background.

Private dining room, with the lighting echoed from the dessert bar.

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SOCIAL- Seeking or enjoying the companionship of others, gregarious.

I think Mr Atherton has covered all the bases here. Its completely informal. No bookings required for the Social room bar. Pop in for a drink or a cocktail. Sample the tapas style menu. Or if there is space, take your cocktail through to the dessert bar and scoff down some calories. What's not to like.

We were extremely fortunate to bag an early table here, thanks to a very good friend, who shall remain nameless. As we think that this is the most coveted opening since Heston's Dinner, we view it as a bit of a scoop. If you look at the website, bookings are well in advance for dinner, but a few lunch ones are available. How long that will last, who knows, the big London reviews will be out soon, and those tables will evaporate.

Ham, Egg, Tomato, Mushroom, (£10)

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Anyone for breakfast?

As you may expect perfectly cooked egg. In fact perfectly cooked everything, but ask for a spoon or dip your bread in. Its actually served with a fried bread cream poured around, but you will still need the bread to mop it up.

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Bread was white and brown sourdough. The white was ok, the brown was absolutely terrific, some of the best we have eaten this year. Its not made on site but I don't think it could be beaten if it was.

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Orkney Scallops, mackerel tartare, grapefruit, miso tar (£11)

This is the dish Jason cooked on last weeks Saturday Kitchen substituting pomelo for grapefruit. Quite a pleasant dish, full of interesting flavours. The scallops holding their own against the sometimes full on mackerel.

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Light cured Loch Duart salmon, avocado, smoked herring roe cream (£12.50)

I love the way this dish presents itself against the slate. No need to muck about too much with top quality ingedients and the salmon was top notch. Quite a decent portion too, as all the dishes were. The jelly snake on top is made from roasting the skin and making a consomme, and adding agar agar to set it.
I can't remember what the pretty red ribbons were to garnish the dish, perhaps radish? dyed with ? beetroot? Refreshing, clean flavours.

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Cauliflower and Squid (£10.50)

The squid was diced to make it appear like a risotto,the cauliflower slivers still having bite. The clear roasted squid juices were poured around in a puddle of fishy loveliness. The black discs at the base of the dish are actually turnip soaked in squid ink. Samphire is in evidence as was dill and sea purslane. There is more going on in these dishes than a layman can take in. Shame I'm too old to offer my services to a kitchen foc. I'm sure it would be quite a learning curve.
Again ask for a spoon. Those juices are too precious to waste.

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24 Hour braised Suffolk Pork belly and cheek (£12.50)

A stonking dish this. Looks the part on the plate. It certainly had the juices flowing. There is some braised parsnip root, pork crackling, puy lentils, oats, beer, hops and wild chickweed on the plate. I will not be trying to recreate this dish at home, trust me.

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Braised Irish Ox Tongue n Cheek, (£13.50)

Again a gutsy full flavoured dish the sort of food I never tire of eating. An accompanying dish of horseradish mash almost turned it into a meal in itself. Witness also the salt baked carrots.

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The first of two desserts was "Tiramisu" (£8) and if you want a chocolate fix this is for you. Hot chocolate coffee was poured tableside onto the dish adding an extra dimension. The jelly cubes are made with Kahlua.
A real girlie treat which touched my feminine side.

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To finish the meal proper, the other dessert was Baked beetroot sorbet, frozen yogurt, basil ash meringue (£7). Snaking its way over the yogurt and meringue btw is beetroot jelly.

Again pretty as a picture, a fitting end to quite a special meal.

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Well I think any fool can see that this is going to be an instant hit. Its got the lot. An open house policy for casual food and drink or the more formal proper dining side for more structured eating. Its going to be a goldmine. If he ever sells shares in the place stump up the money fast.

As you may expect you will not pay Soho prices in Mayfair, but the portion sizes when we visited were generous to say the least. Main courses hover just below £30 but the real value is in the starters and sharing plates, plenty of variation exists to splash out on for not a lot of money.

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A very happy Jason Atherton with some of his excellent, highly trained, and informative staff.

Oh btw did I mention its a certain Michelin star.

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Spotlessly clean state of the art kitchen. Induction hobs?

Don't upset the chef, look at that meat cleaver.

#2 Corinna Dunne

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Posted 19 April 2011 - 07:13 AM

Great review David thanks so much, and brilliant to have so many pics.

Looks like it is every bit as exciting as it was teed up to be. That beetroot dessert with basil ash meringue looks a bit familiar. Think I had something along those lines in Maze two years ago.
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#3 Richard1

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Posted 19 April 2011 - 07:30 AM

Looks a grand place David. Some of the food shots look really good. Had to double take the first dish mind, the egg, ham and mushy. That has been one of my staples over the past two and half years(minus the bread sauce). Makes me laugh,a couple of years back,the silly cow from the Telegraph, in her inate wisdom, deemed it to be a cheap skate dish!! :laugh: I wonder what she will make of this one......!!!!!!
Atherton is a class act and Im sure he will do extremely well. As for stars, goes without saying, smashed all over it, which to be fair looks completely justified.
By the way, did you get his autograph to add to your collection!! :laugh: :laugh:

#4 david goodfellow

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Posted 19 April 2011 - 08:31 AM

Thanks for the comments folks. Its good to know my work does not go unnoticed. I meant to take a shot of the bar and main dining room also, but somehow got sidetracked.

I,m working hard to try to take better photos of the chefs food and some photos on my camera are pin sharp. However when I reduce the size down to post them up here some of the pics lose some of their "edge".

If I could I would go back this week to eat a bit (lot) more off the menu, its that good.

Richard I admit I am a bit of a tart. Shame more chefs don't wear a skirt though, thats more my type. :wink:

#5 YSL

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Posted 19 April 2011 - 01:58 PM

Thanks for the report back - Am even more excited about my trip tomorrow, now!
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#6 Gary Marshall

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Posted 20 April 2011 - 01:19 AM

went last night and although by no means not a bad restaurant, it didn't rock our collective world, unlike mathew fort who was very effusive to a nearby table and seems to think that fine dining at £10.50 a small plate is in someway a game changer, who knew? i prefered my own metric, it's about £3 a bite!

will try to do more later, best dish was a perfect onglet but London's not short of decent steak at the moment.

we had a selection of starters and nine of the plates, plus 3 deserts so gave it a fair whirl.

waiter rec of quail also v good, decided against the cote du boeuf at £72 a kilo! there's obviously ambition but atelier robuchon did the whole small plate fine dining schtick nearly ten years ago in paris and in london for a fair few years, suspect they're still the benchmark.

Was really hoping for some bells and whistles from JA but nothing we saw there that's not been seen before, the ledbury does the squid/rice riff far better (and brett was in last night too)

wine list is very expensive.

nice looking place, staff good. not convinced at moment though.
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#7 david goodfellow

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Posted 20 April 2011 - 02:32 AM

Its certainly the hottest ticket in town currently. Fay Maschler was there on our visit, so expect her review tomorrow.

Nic Watt (Roka) also seemed to be enjoying himself.

MarinaMetro is not known to the management(nor me)so she may have been also.

Did'n't they host a dinner on Sunday for the Top 50 restaurant awards?

#8 Gary Marshall

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Posted 20 April 2011 - 03:53 AM

everyone will be in , looking at twitter, marina is in seoul so i doubt she'll have made it yet!

what looked like foodie pr giving william sitwell the hard sell last night, he looked about as convinced as us though...
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#9 RDB

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Posted 20 April 2011 - 04:49 AM

everyone will be in , looking at twitter, marina is in seoul so i doubt she'll have made it yet!

what looked like foodie pr giving william sitwell the hard sell last night, he looked about as convinced as us though...

..this is were I get worried. Your reviews are usually spot on Gary, and I think you give a very balanced view and can certainly see through the hype.

I am in both Pollen Street in a few weeks and as mentioned Hestons as well, the latter I am really not looking forward too at all.

Think I may take Mat Grant's reco and go for a Hot Dog.

#10 Gary Marshall

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Posted 20 April 2011 - 04:54 AM

So to the much awaited pollen street social last night, second night of opening following a week of soft/private events by the looks of things.

It’s a good looking space, quite a sizable bar and then into the restaurant with a semi open glazed kitchen area and desert bar at the front.

From my banquette had a good view of the room and the multitude of waiting staff, this doesn’t look like a project where much has been skimped.

Although thankfully they didn’t explain their concept from what we’d read of tapas and have what you want type ordering we set with the menu, we were told initially that we couldn’t have tapas in the restaurant it was bar only, but that was quickly rescinded so we dived straight in with some diversions whilst we worked out what to order ‘proper’.

First up were some salt and pepper red squid, which were good and salty, chiperones which I liked but others felt the batter a bit too clunky and some clams a la plancha which were ok, better with the nuggets of chorizo in the bottom, though to me cooking them so the sauce effectively evaporates negates the point of shellfish. Good bread and butter were offered and frequently refilled, as was tap water. A glass of sherry helped these down.

To the menu proper the main courses at best part of £30 didn’t vastly appeal nor did the steaks at up to £72 for a kilo, not when we were a short crawl from Goodman Mayfair! So we decided to make a tasting menu from the ‘small plates’ and dig in, ordered in waves of three which raised no eyebrows from the helpful waiter.

Orkney scallops, mackerel tartare, grapefruit and miso tar was ok, but gone in a mouthful dish, ok but unremarkable. Smoked foie gras, black sesame , smoked golden raisins was more successful really well prepared foie, rolled in pain d’epice, good dish. Escabeche of quail wouldn’t have been an obvious choice but it was recommended by the waiter, and it was the most interesting dish we had, very quique dacosta in style with an earth style crumb and well cooked quail though oddly a split breast and only 1 leg, who got the leg? Or did we get an extra half a breast?! We’ll never know! But certainly more the style of dish I was hoping for from Mr A.

Middle wave was kicked off with ‘full English breakfast’ remembering a Great british menu dish of its ilk but unfortunately was the real dud of the night, various breakfasty elements but awash with cooked tomatoes that overpowered it and the egg. Cauliflower and squid , clear roasted squid juice sounded adventurous and just didn’t quite live up to its peer a similar dish at the Ledbury of squid risotto where the squid is formed into rice shapes, the roasted juice a bit underpowered. Roasted red mullet with olive consommé white and green garlic again read far more interestingly than it ate.

Final round was 24 hr braised Suffolk pork belly & cheek, ok, the tongue and cheek , well the cheek was good the tongue not immediately obvious, salt baked carrots good. Best dish was the onglet really nicely seared and charred. Good piece of meat.

Deserts we took at the table not the bar, sorbets and ice creams in a dry ice bowl for rob, as per usual, I had the PBJ parfait, cherry jam creamed rice puffs – though sadly beaten in the pbj wars by spuntino’s version, and a rhubarb and ginger, vanilla cheesecake which was a bit underwhelming.

Wine list gave a bit of a shock, though we knew in our heart there were unlikely to be any obvious bargains but La Rioja Alta 905 1997 at £110 certainly gave us something to think about so we retreated to the lower end of the list but still ended up at c.£35 a bottle, for unremarkable Spanish white and red.

Coffee was pretty good

So all in all some flashes of excellence and some generic just opened glitches, most dishes underseasoned and lukewarm especially the meats but not really pushing the bar in terms of inventiveness or deliciousness as far as I could see. Mathew Fort was in loudly declaring it ‘inclusive rather than exclusive’ but again, when you don’t have to pay for it you can think that a £10 starter is a bargain, you’d need to spend £30 -£40 to build anything vaguely identifiable as a meal from the a la carte so I don’t see that’s really breaking any new ground in value! Sure it will be a success and I hope it will be for JA but for me and my usual coterie of diners we felt there was not enough on the plate alone to be over excited about, as an all round dining experience for a date or impress a client, I’m sure it will fit the bill it’s buzzy, well designed & staff are good. If I were into scoring I’d say it’s a 6/10 . Mr Fort rates it 19/20 for the record.
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#11 Gary Marshall

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Posted 20 April 2011 - 05:05 AM


everyone will be in , looking at twitter, marina is in seoul so i doubt she'll have made it yet!

what looked like foodie pr giving william sitwell the hard sell last night, he looked about as convinced as us though...

..this is were I get worried. Your reviews are usually spot on Gary, and I think you give a very balanced view and can certainly see through the hype.


thanks, sometimes feel it must look like i/we're the cynical g*ts in the corner looking for faults, but believe me we go open minded and are looking for places for the rotation not just the thrill of the new!
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#12 david goodfellow

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Posted 20 April 2011 - 06:10 AM

Pictures Here from the opening party.

Loads of celebs including Rene Redzepi, Heston etc, etc, etc.

#13 confiseur

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Posted 20 April 2011 - 08:21 AM

david goodfellow
Oh btw did I mention its a certain Michelin star.

.........................................................................................................................

Indeed.....but unfortunatley ( or fortunatley )he's not French, so nothing sure there by any means.

#14 bakerestates

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Posted 20 April 2011 - 09:34 AM



everyone will be in , looking at twitter, marina is in seoul so i doubt she'll have made it yet!

what looked like foodie pr giving william sitwell the hard sell last night, he looked about as convinced as us though...

..this is were I get worried. Your reviews are usually spot on Gary, and I think you give a very balanced view and can certainly see through the hype.


thanks, sometimes feel it must look like i/we're the cynical g*ts in the corner looking for faults, but believe me we go open minded and are looking for places for the rotation not just the thrill of the new!


I agree with you RDB - Gary's write-ups always give a good impression of what's what, I always look forward to them!!

Walked passed PSC on Saturday (inbetween sushi at Shiori & fusion at Providores) - looked a good space, meant to take a photo of the menu on the door. Was surprised to see the main courses at 30 quid.

#15 Toufas

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Posted 20 April 2011 - 01:57 PM

Going there next week! We are 8 of us and we can't wait.

#16 Gary Marshall

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Posted 21 April 2011 - 12:55 AM




everyone will be in , looking at twitter, marina is in seoul so i doubt she'll have made it yet!

what looked like foodie pr giving william sitwell the hard sell last night, he looked about as convinced as us though...

..this is were I get worried. Your reviews are usually spot on Gary, and I think you give a very balanced view and can certainly see through the hype.


thanks, sometimes feel it must look like i/we're the cynical g*ts in the corner looking for faults, but believe me we go open minded and are looking for places for the rotation not just the thrill of the new!


I agree with you RDB - Gary's write-ups always give a good impression of what's what, I always look forward to them!!

Walked passed PSC on Saturday (inbetween sushi at Shiori & fusion at Providores) - looked a good space, meant to take a photo of the menu on the door. Was surprised to see the main courses at 30 quid.


cheers piers, i think they lost us initially at the £30 mains and the wine list prices and it was a long walk back from there.
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#17 david goodfellow

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Posted 21 April 2011 - 01:51 AM

Some of the reviews are starting to come through now.

This One from one of our very own members is well worth a read. It looks like he had some of the dishes we ate and the quail dish that Gary enjoyed.

I'm looking forward to reading Fay Maschler's review, which should be out today. She can be a bit of a tough cookie to please.

We shall see.

#18 tim g

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Posted 21 April 2011 - 02:13 AM

how different is the food from what he was doing at maze?

#19 david goodfellow

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Posted 21 April 2011 - 02:50 AM

how different is the food from what he was doing at maze?


I would hazard a guess to it being the same really. We were never regulars their, far from it in fact, we only visited Maze the once, but from memory the two meat dishes we ate here, I would say are classic Atherton.

He's not trying to reinvent the wheel, just cook to the best of his ability I guess, and for me, that's certainly good enough.

#20 tim g

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Posted 21 April 2011 - 03:44 AM

yeah thats what it looks like, i only ate at maze a couple of times, but iirc he did that tongue + cheek dish there as well. i guess the atmosphere here is more casual tho, which (in my opinion) is a good thing

#21 Scottf

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Posted 21 April 2011 - 05:10 AM

I'd be a little harder than Gary. I found it a disappointing meal regardless of the hype surrounding the opening.

From the tapas, the salt and pepper red prawns were well prepared and tasty, the clams small and undistinguishable and the chipirone were quite poor; the batter was too thick and they lacked the texture of the freshest versions you find so easily on the continent. Also at £6.50 a plate hardly generous.

The miso tar with the scallops and mackerel tartare was jarringly sweet, like liquid toffee, totally ruining the dish. The foie gras was quite good, though with no discernable smokiness however the golden raisins were oversmoked, so make of that what you will! I agree with Gary, DOTN was the Quail, which was well prepared and cleverly integrated with the other ingredients taste and texture wise.

"English Breakfast" was a travesty, the other ingredients totally overpowered by the tomato that tasted like cheap supermarket pizza base. Cauliflower and Squid utilised good technique but the flavours were muted, including the consommé. The dish,like many, lacked punch and was a clear few steps behind The Ledbury version. The Red Mullet was nicely cooked; the rest of the dish blah.

We had to ask for salt during the meat plates as all were underseasoned. All were also lukewarm and cooled quickly. Firstly, gloopy mustard mash swimming in a layer of melted butter. Onglet was wasily our favourite, well cooked and flavoursome meat (as Onglet should be!). Pork belly suffered from rubbery skin but again had good flavour. I guess the pig and ox cheeks prove sous vide hasn't yet had its day.

Desserts as described by Gary looked attractive but underwhelmed on all fronts.

So, as mentioned above, a disappointing meal almost from beginning to end. There was too many faults in conception and execution for me and with the chef twittering how the kitchen is on fire and charging full prices from the off they don't get a pass from me. Perhaps things will improve as the restaurant and kitchen develops but at the moment I can't recommend.

Edited by Scottf, 21 April 2011 - 05:11 AM.


#22 david goodfellow

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Posted 21 April 2011 - 07:12 AM

I think THIS is quite a positive review from Fay Maschler who can sometimes be quite difficult to impress.

Good that she includes some historic background as clearly not everyone knows Jason Atherton's pedigree.

Be interesting to see how the reviews finally pan out, because as has already been demonstrated, there are some deep differences of opinion.

I know which camp we are in :biggrin:

#23 david goodfellow

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Posted 24 April 2011 - 12:36 AM

A Short Video of the interior of PSS, and Jason Atherton explaining the concept behind it.

Thanks to Big Hospitality.

#24 Gary Marshall

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Posted 25 April 2011 - 12:16 AM

I see on twitter atherton is changing a few dishes already with the sharing plates becoming taster sized and other tweaks.
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#25 david goodfellow

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Posted 25 April 2011 - 12:46 AM

He has to adapt and respond to feedback. Which clearly he has done very quickly, and much to his credit.

The sharing concept is great in theory, but only perhaps if two people partake. To have three or four sets of knives and forks poised to attack a single scallop, egg, or whatever, is not going to work.

Fortunately we mostly dine a deux :smile:

Jasons Twitter

Edited by david goodfellow, 25 April 2011 - 12:49 AM.


#26 alexthepink

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Posted 26 April 2011 - 08:59 AM

David, is the last dessert in your review not the PBJ? I had both that and the beetroot with basil ash meringue and I think your pic is of the PBJ! Which was awesome.

#27 david goodfellow

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Posted 27 April 2011 - 01:02 AM

David, is the last dessert in your review not the PBJ? I had both that and the beetroot with basil ash meringue and I think your pic is of the PBJ! Which was awesome.


Alex, you may well be right, but there is a story attached to this. So please let me explain.

As the meal was part of the soft opening it was a set, no choice menu. Therefore no menus to choose from. All dishes however were explained tableside.

Of late I have mostly decided not to take notes and in the main let my photos jog my abysmal memory. Two reasons for this really. My wife just about puts up with the photos but thinks it spoils the meal a bit with me jotting down stuff as well. That is in between checking the photos are acceptable, instead of jumping in and just enjoying the food. This sort of fits in with some of my reviews which are from a punters point of view and not from a paid critic's perspective.

The two dishes seemed too similar so rather than get it wrong I phoned PSS and asked to speak to our waiter. After a while I was in formed he was not in that day and they would try for someone else. No one else was available so they suggested that I try a little later which I did.

Again no one from front of house was available so I was transferred to the kitchen and spoke to one of the commis.
We got cut off. So I tried again.

This time I got Jason Atherton :shock: and was slightly embarrassed to be asking questions before a busy service. He was very good about it and said that the dessert that we had, was the one that I mentioned in the review. So I went with that. Its just possible that he was tinkering about with the dishes and, well, I can't really explain.


We may just pop in over the weekend to put the new lunch menu to the test, and take another look at those desserts up close again. :wink:

Will let you know if we do.

Btw did you enjoy yourself?

What did you think of the place?

#28 YSL

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Posted 28 April 2011 - 03:00 AM

Just wanted to quickly add that I ate here last week (as a Birthday lunch treat) and absolutely loved it - From the relaxed atmosphere, lovely interior, friendly and very helpful staff to the great food. Sure, it may not have been the most delicious food I've eaten so far this year but I loved how the concept and design of the menu brought a sense of fun to proceedings.

As an extra treat to take away, I got some cake all gift wrapped with a "Happy Birthday" note which I thought was a lovely touch by them. It was the cherry top to a fantastic afternoon there and I look forward to going back.
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#29 david goodfellow

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Posted 28 April 2011 - 03:14 AM

Just wanted to quickly add that I ate here last week (as a Birthday lunch treat) and absolutely loved it - From the relaxed atmosphere, lovely interior, friendly and very helpful staff to the great food. Sure, it may not have been the most delicious food I've eaten so far this year but I loved how the concept and design of the menu brought a sense of fun to proceedings.

As an extra treat to take away, I got some cake all gift wrapped with a "Happy Birthday" note which I thought was a lovely touch by them. It was the cherry top to a fantastic afternoon there and I look forward to going back.


Yep, read Your Review earlier as I was wondering how you had gone on. Looks like you had some of the dishes that we ate too.

There have been a few changes since both of our visits. The dishes have been juggled about a bit. Main courses have dropped in price fairly significantly. Sharing plates have disappeared from the menu, and some of the starter dishes have gone up a touch too.
Set lunch now looks even better value as that has dropped in price too. Going to give those dishes a good seeing too on our next visit.

http://www.pollenstr...l.com/menus.php

#30 YSL

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Posted 28 April 2011 - 04:01 AM

Wow! The mains prices really have come down a bit, but that only makes the dishes more likely to included when creating our own tasting menu (along with a selection of starters).

I've booked a table in July for my sister's Birthday treat but am itching to go back (like you) to try the set lunch, I thought it was good value 3 courses for £25 anyway so the slight drop in price makes it even more appealing. May have try to and sneak in a cheeky trip down to London between now and July..
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