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|Address:||8-10 Pollen Street, London W1S 1NQ|
|Tel:||020 7290 7600|
|Price: £73.00||Wine: £24.00||Champagne: £60.00|
|Opening Hours:||Mon-Sat 12N-2.30pm 6-10.30pm|
2 of 2 people found this review helpful.
Given some of the comments below, I was expecting a frosty reception on a cold November lunchtime, but nothing could have been further from the truth. The reception, the service and indeed the room were all warm.
The restaurant is approached through a lovely looking bar area and has a mixture of modern art on the walls and those intricate light bulbs found dangling from the ceiling in Spuntino and the like, only here encased in glass fish bowls, rather than left bare, faux industrial chic like. Fortunately there is no muzac, and the buzz from the all but full restaurant worked well. I can imagine that late of an evening, however, the noise level (aided by hard wood floors and minimalist walls) could rise to annoying for romantic tables a deux.
Seating is either banquette style around the sides, or a couple of awkward tables in the middle of the room, next to the service counter. Alas, it was on one of these latter tables that we were sat, too close to the champagne bucket as is decent without a straw. Not the greatest table in the house, but it did afford one of us a great view of the kitchen and the other a table of lunching ladies, all fur and jodhpurs, who decamped on masse to the kitchen to have their photos taken with Jason. Fun for them (and him, I am sure), but not so convenient for the waiting staff, all of whom have to get the nod from the great man before a plate leaves the kitchen.
This seems to be a bit of a thing here, like allowing passengers to go into the cockpit to see the pilot (pre 11/9 that is): there was a succession of punters going in to see the chefs at work. How much cooking JA actually got done is hard to tell, as he seemed as much interested with glad handing as he did with setting to at the stove. He was at least there though, which is more than can be said for most Name Chefs.
Having been sat next to the champagne bucket, our white wine was placed by the wall, too far away to discretely nip over and get when the service of this was slow. I have had my gripes before about wine service; it annoys the hell out of me when it arrives after the meal has started. Here the wine arrived, as it should, in time for a little snifter before the food turned up. Then it sort of disappeared. Either leave it on (or near enough to) the table so that I can serve myself, or make sure that you keep an eye on the flow. You don’t have to top it up after every sip, but don’t let the glass go dry.
This is but a trifle annoyance with the service, which was otherwise excellent throughout.
The menu has both a la carte and a set lunch which, should you be there at the right hour, is by far the best way to go: three courses for less than the price of all but a couple of the a la carte mains. All the dishes we tried were lovely: slow cooked egg yolk with smoked haddock and curried puff rice (sort of reinvented kedgeree) had a good combination of flavours, and an added crunch from the curried rice krispies. Ham hock terrine was enlivened with some beans and piccalilli and had a rich streak of foie gras running through it.
Mains too kept up the high standard. Cod came with squid and some pesto spuds which was a terrific combination. I’d never have thought of partridge with bolognaise, but it worked supremely well; rich tasting partridge and a deep reduction of bolognaise, set off with a thick smear of carrot puree. Say what you like about the man, but JA is not afraid of bold tastes. So the bread sauce mousse that came with the partridge might not have worked, but didn’t amount to a total disaster.
Whilst the wine list verges on the serious, there are some good wines in the £30-40 level and, when combined with the set lunch menu, you can get an excellent meal for less than you’d imagine.
As a nod to the ladies what lunch brigade, there is also a special stool provided for hand bags. Whilst the Victoria Tote may look splendid on this, nobody batted an eyelid about the sweaty gym bag we deposited, just to try it out. Maybe when we come back, we’ll put something a bit more befitting on it.