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Divine dinner at Pollen Street Social

September 30, 2011

Pollen Street Social is just a fabulous restaurant run by Jason Atherton. I went to Maze a few years ago and was blown away by Jason Atherton’s menu there (the pacific rim tapas theme made for an eclectic evening) so had been looking forward to visiting Pollen Street Social since it opened it’s doors earlier this year. We had booked a table for dinner so I can’t comment on the ‘social’ aspect of the venue (booking-free bar area, dessert bar etc) but that just gives me a simple excuse to return.

The restaurant area is fairly large and we were shown to a table in a comfortable corner. We started with a glass of light and refreshing prosecco as we pondered the menu. A tasting menu is available but I was immediately struck by one of the main courses that was not on the tasting menu, so we decided to go our own way. M went for a slightly radical approach – three starters but no main – our waiter assured her that was absolutely fine. With each of us choosing a mix of fish and meat dishes we settled on a bottle of Minervois to accompany the food.

I started with the escabeche of quail, chicken liver cream, nuts and seeds, which was so delicious. Chunky and perfectly cooked pieces of quail on top of a rich and smooth chicken liver cream that was full of flavour – what a great way to start a meal. M started with the scallop ceviche, cucumber and radish with soy dressing that she described as delicious – a light and fresh starter.

I then enjoyed a break while M tucked into her second starter – the escabeche of quail etc. I was offered more bread so tried and was delighted by the sourdough baguette – yum! On to my main course, which was the roast west coast hake, smoked mussels, cabbage, cod cheeks and potatoes in seaweed. Everything was so fresh and just made me think of the sea – even the potatoes! The fish was perfectly cooked and meaty and the dish stood up well to our chosen wine. For her third ‘starter’ of the evening M had the pressed tete de porc, rabbit and fois gras with piccalilli and mustard gel. I think she strugged with another rich dish to follow the quail, but compliments about the food continued to flow.

We took a little time out before moving on to desserts. I was undecided between two options on the menu so the sommelier helped me out – I was hoping that one of my options would marry well with a pedro ximenez but no… so I went for the candied beetroot, macerated yellow peaches, sweet carrot granita and tarragon ice cream, with a glass of petillant naturel de raisin from the Jura (sommelier recommendation) which is a sweet, sparkling rose – something I would never normally choose but which was light and perfect with my dessert. The dessert itself was magnificent! The candied beetroot was delicious and the tarragon ice cream just completely divine. M had the “PBJ” (parfait, cherry jam and creamed rice puffs) which was similar in thought to the peanut butter sandwich dessert at Maze. She found it excellent and loved the peanut butter-like flavours and textures. We rounded things off with tea and coffee, M was rather exhausted by the enormous pot of tea that was presented to her.

I can’t think of anything at Pollen Street Social that disappointed. Glasses of iced tap water were continually refilled through the evening, the staff were friendly and helpful, there’s a relaxed ambience and good acoustics (not much chatter noise given the size of the room). When we collected coats from the cloakroom we were each given a small gift – breakfast courtesy of PSS (a couple of tiny muffins and a tea bag!) – a nice touch though I am not sure the tea was quite to my taste the following morning. As we were gathering ourselves together to leave I was still extolling the virtues of the tarragon ice cream. Jason Atherton was standing near the bar in his chef whites, caught my eye and smiled – he knew he had another happy customer who was about to tell the world what a great place Pollen Street Social is :-)

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