America is the home of overly-sincere, across-the-board courtesy. In the UK, there’s something heartening about barging someone on the Tube and getting a Malcolm Tucker-esque torrent of abuse. Being called a bog-eyed half-wit is somehow reassuring. Comforting, even. Whereas in America, you’ll apologise, and receive a ‘you’re fine’ in return. Is it fine though? It doesn’t seem fine? Why is a vein on your head throbbing? This feels like the opposite of fine. What we’re trying to say is, don’t say something is fine just because you feel the need to.
Pollen Street Social is a ‘fine dining’ restaurant in Mayfair. In restaurant terms that means three things:
- Your food will be introduced to you like you’re at an aristocratic débutante party. “Have you met this Lincolnshire rabbit? Wonderful family. Can be a little hammy”.
- Your water will be poured for you incessantly. You’ve never known hydration like this. You are a Herbal Essences advert.
- There will be flowers. On your table. In your food. Everywhere.
Even though Pollen Street Social presents these classic traits, it doesn’t feel like a ‘fine dining’ restaurant, so we don’t see why anyone should consider it as one. For a start, there’s an atmosphere. Old people, young people, smart people, scruffy people. All talking, laughing, eating. It feels...normal. Or as normal as a place that serves wild mushroom broth with parmesan foam can be.
And then there’s the food. Nothing here reads kitchen-ego. It’s food you want to eat. Quail with summer vegetables and cabbage pesto is as delicious as it sounds. Yes, it’s a bit fancy. And a hand will appear to pour your duck tea broth for you. But it’s also really nice. The same goes for the ham wrapped rabbit with a stuffed courgette flower. There’s no mystery or smart-arse ‘Rabbit Running In Petals’ type descriptions. The food sounds good on the menu. And it tastes good too.
On paper, this place looks like a special occasion restaurant. But that doesn’t mean it has to be a big hoo-ha that’s organised weeks in advance. It’s the kind of restaurant you come to for a proper catch-up with friends or family. If you come for dinner, expect to pay £100 a head without wine. We’re not generally ones for a full tasting menu, but that ain’t cheap either.
That’s not to say that Pollen Street Social can’t be done a little savvily though. The three course set lunch is £37. This gets you three courses, plus extras, at an accessible price. It’s a tonne of good food in a nice restaurant, and we’re fine with just calling it that.
A dainty bowl full of not so dainty flavours. Properly rich.
This dish comes with a note listing some pub facts about the jellied eel. It’s tasty enough.
You know what makes a refreshing tomato salad even more refreshing? A bit of granita on top.
In the eternal words of Danny Dyer, this is extremely naughty.
These taste excellent, but there’s something very unappealing about, well, foam. No one has ever looked at some food and thought, yes, you know what that needs? Some foam.
This is basically a plate of food wearing other food as clothing. Rabbit wearing a bit of ham. Some prawn and scallop wearing a courgette coat. It’s excellent.
A straightforward, no nonsense, tasty plate of pork and bits. It’s a posh roast, really. Not bad.
A light, lip smacker of a dessert. Perfect for a warm evening.
This comes with a 25 minute warning. 25 minutes. Is that all? For something this good? It’ll be gone in about 25 seconds.