Pollen Street Social is the jewel in the crown of Jason Atherton’s global restaurant empire. Having held a Michelin Star since 2011, it’s safe to say diners come here with high expectations.
As with any restaurant, it’s the team who give you a first taste of what to expect. The buzzy bar and cosy dining room are run like a well-organised ship. One team member seamlessly segues into the next so that you are warmly looked after from beginning to end, and despite the meticulous service, each person’s personality isn’t quashed, making guests feel like they’re making real connections.
At £95, the à la carte isn’t cheap, but it feels like good value with a choice of two dishes for each of four courses topped up with abundant ‘tasters’ between courses and petit fours. This is food that aims to please by offering up intense plates of flavours with a good measure of presentational fun.
One of Atherton’s signature serves is ‘fish and chips’, but not how you know it. A layered, crisp confit potato stack is meticulously shaped into a rectangle and dusted with wince-inducingly sharp vinegar powder before being topped with a cod emulsion. This salty seaside treat smells and tastes like the best chippy you’ve ever had.
Other courses present an oyster ice cream that manages to encompass all the power of the sea, and a beef dish with meat robust enough to stand up to its sweet and sticky miso, aubergine and molasses accompaniments.
The old adage that three’s a crowd does not apply when it comes to desserts here, when the trio of treats is brought to the table one after another. Our favourite? A guessing game of six identical white ice creams. Only once devoured will the waiting staff reveal the surprising flavours.
When it comes to drinks, sommelier Agnieszka Swiecka wields her trolley around the dining room ensuring everyone has what they need, making glasses refill as if by magic while explaining in detail her different recommendations. An apricot-bright rich Riesling kicked things off for us while a buttery Sauternes closed proceedings with the perfect amount of sweetness.
One caveat: inventory shortages can on occasions leave you disappointed when trying to order a second bottle of the same wine from the list. But overall, consider high expectations effortlessly met.