Secreted beside a discreet Mayfair alleyway since 2011, Jason Atherton’s imperious Michelin-starred flagship, Pollen Street Social, remains “bang on the money” – a “masterpiece of fine dining” and a worthy winner of the SquareMeal Restaurant of the Year award in 2011 and 2017. Step through the glass door and the good vibrations hit you straight away, while the clean-lined metropolitan dining room shows its cosmopolitan class with dramatic lampshades and eye-catching arty exhibits.
Atherton may oversee a global empire these days, but he still puts in the shifts at PSS, and is often to be seen at the pass – a world-class hands-on restaurateur in his rightful place. Culinary influences and cross-fertilisation abound, but everything is underpinned by indigenous ingredients, from a witty Cockney riff involving smoked eel, buttermilk, beetroot reduction and jellied eel to South Downs fallow deer with pear, cocoa and chocolate vinegar or “staggeringly good” Lakeland lamb with beetroot, blackcurrant, savoy cabbage and a mini hotpot on the side – scintillating, exuberant food of the highest order, with maximum flavour delivering maximum satisfaction.
Provenance is absolutely key to Atherton, who believes that a menu can only ever be as good as its ingredients and has taken the time to foster long-term relationships with suppliers across Britain in order to obtain the very best produce the UK has to offer, from Colchester crab to Buccleuch beef, Jersey oysters, Orkney scallops and Goosnargh duck from Lancashire.
To start, the ‘fruits of the British sea’ is a delirious array of maritime delights presented on a special stand – we love the oyster ice cream dressed with an oyster leaf, the lobster cocktail, and the scallop with pickled radish and jalapeño; to finish, the dessert bar promises close encounters with the likes of Brogdale pear sorbet, goats’ cheese ice cream, honey and bee pollen.
Service plays it ‘social’ without ever losing its professional cool, and there are treasures galore on the ever-expanding wine list curated by the group’s whizz-bang sommelier Laure Patry. “Few places are such a treat” concludes one admirer of Pollen Street Social– amen to that.