Pollen Street Social

European Restaurant in Mayfair
Pollen Street Social image

8 / 10 from 5 reviews
8 - 10 Pollen Street
020 7290 7600
Nearest Station
Oxford Circus
0.11 miles
Restaurant Facilities

Disabled Facilities

Children Welcome

Music Played

Pollen Street Social has been something of a springboard for Jason Atherton, who has since launched Esquina in Singapore, Table No. 1 in Shanghai, and 22 Ships in Hong Kong. In March this year he will open the Social Eating House, a more casual version of his first restaurant, for despite the name it’s more of a typical fine dining eatery than a social meeting house.

Atherton used to work at Maze, and some dishes bear a passing resemblance to those at Ramsay’s restaurant. There’s plenty of good old British fare like roasted quail and roasted duck, as well as things like “A very English smoked salmon”,and there’s a version of a Full English breakfast as a starter. It also boasts a standalone dessert bar that is very hard to resist.

Pollen Street Social Picture Gallery

Pollen Street Social Picture
Pollen Street Social Picture
Pollen Street Social Picture
Pollen Street Social Picture
Pollen Street Social Picture
Pollen Street Social Picture

All In London Review

Glimpses of brilliance...just not at the dessert bar!

Jason Atherton has tried to shake up fine dining in the capital with his first post-Ramsay/Maze solo venture tucked away on Pollen Street. “Relaxed and comfortable sociable vibe” is the claim, with total menu flexibility the attempt to make fine dining more accessible. A bustling Saturday lunchtime was the setting to put Atherton’s new venture through its ‘chilled out’ paces.

The excitement begins on arrival with a welcome at the reception, including the handing over of a numbered key and the promise of a gift on your exit. Being led through the impressive bar (with an equally impressive bar menu) to your table lets you gain a real feel of the place before sitting down. White linen tablecloths are lit up by the light streaming through the wall of windows looking out onto Pollen Street. Bread is sadly not warm but tasty nonetheless accompanied by vivid yellow butter and a not too overpowering cod brandade. At £23.50 a head the lunch menu seemed too good value to pass up. The starters of goat’s curd with beetroot, and cured salmon with cucumber and horseradish were intricate works of art. A goat’s cheese and beetroot salad can be a somewhat predictable drab affair, yet the different texture of the curd, the myriad of beetroots and most crucially the depth of flavour provided by the pine nuts elevated the dish from a mere visual feast to one that awakened the taste buds. The salmon was distinctly Asian in flavour, a deconstructed sushi of sorts. The freshness of its components screamed summer, and the icy temperature of the horseradish snow was particularly refreshing. A middle course of Atherton’s take on a full English breakfast was an indulgence out of curiosity. The taste was intriguing, certainly capturing the essence of a greasy fry-up minus the grease, yet disappointingly the poached egg had burst before the dish hit the table, a surprising oversight by a kitchen of that calibre.

The main course lamb chops were succulent and tender, working well with the creamed potato and smokiness of the garlic purée. The braised shoulder was flavoursome yet not quite melt in the mouth, furthermore perhaps some of the richness of the slightly salty jus could have been cut through by a vegetable of the green variety. The hake on the other hand was by far the standout dish, one that could grace Michelin starred tables countrywide. Here was a clear demonstration of Atherton using modern techniques, in this case the previously fashionable and slightly overused foam, to improve a dish rather than an act of hubris. The pea and cockle emulsion was light, bubbly and bursting with flavour, the fish perfect and the shredded sea lettuce adding that extra crunch bringing the dish together.

With dessert to look forward to it was time to try out “London's first standalone dessert bar.” Firstly the complimentary sorbets, tarragon and loganberry respectively, served up by the friendly, charismatic pastry chefs were pleasant surprises. There were no set lunch menus and it was unclear whether we should have moved from our table at all, however, there was no problem when asking the pastry chefs for the lunchtime desserts, and the experience of watching all the puddings plated right in front of you was definitely interesting and engaging. Although, this may have been a case of style over substance with the deconstructed lemon meringue largely tasteless save the lime sorbet and lemon curd. The candied beetroot was lacklustre, and the carrot granita had little to no flavour - the overall impression of the dish being one of using up ingredients as opposed to well constructed combinations. Lastly a sickly vanilla syrup, used to garnish both plates with a flourish, was extremely strong in flavour and tended to overpower.

The slightly disappointing end to the meal was compounded by a mix up with our bill, and a feeling that our table had slowly been forgotten about as the meal progressed. A little bag of afternoon tea (consisting of two scones and a large tea bag) was the little surprise awaiting in our locked box. This was a nice touch and perhaps smoothed over the billing error, however, the scones were stuffed with olives opposed to currants, a strange combination and unclear whether deliberate or not.

Atherton has the building blocks to nurture Pollen Street into the relaxed atmosphere he desires, the food will certainly draw in the crowds, desserts can be tweaked. A restaurant is about an experience, the standard of food plays a pivotal role in that, and a chef of Jason’s renown will deliver. Yet perhaps he needs to keep a close eye on the front of house to ensure his sociable maxim permeates throughout the establishment. These are minor points, Pollen Street Social will most likely be in Michelin’s little red book come its next publication, and the lunch menu is a great value way to try out one of the hottest new places in town.

Reviewed by James Whiting
Published on Jul 6, 2011

Best For

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Our pick of Michelin-starred restaurants

The most influential gastronomic ratings in Europe

The accolades are coming in hard and fast for Jason Atherton’s casual fine dining “bistro”, among them a Michelin star and Square Meal’s Restaurant of the Year 2011 award. The food is European with a twist, with things like tartare of fallow deer and roast cod with paella, and for those with a sweet tooth the standalone dessert bar cannot be missed.

Restaurants with the best set menus in London picture

Restaurants with the best set menus in London

Side-step the hassle of decision-making

Jason Atherton’s informal restaurant boasts a mouth-watering standalone dessert bar. The set lunch is every bit as exciting as the main menu, and is £26 for two courses.

London's best molecular food picture

London's best molecular food

For the very smallest of appetites?

With his first restaurant Jason Atherton attempted to move away from formal fine dining, offering a bar area for starters and small plates, the main dining room and a separate dessert bar. Nothing is quite as it seems on the playful menu, so the English breakfast is a slow-cooked egg served atop tomato sauce, croutons and mushrooms.

London's most beautiful dishes picture

London's most beautiful dishes

Top grub, looking pretty

Nothing is what you’d expect at Pollen Street Social. The quail served “brunch” style with cereal bowl, tea and sandwich is in fact quail terrine on a brioche, a cereal bowl of wheat, barley and mushroom risotto and a cup of quail stock and lapsangsouchong “tea”. Oh, and there’s a wooden box with a drawer that reveals confit quail leg and breast.

User Reviews

from Ealing

Jul 23, 2014

Great buzzy atmosphere - highly recommended if you are dining out in a group.
We were meeting some friends and I'm glad we went here - the volume of background chatter is sufficient that you don't feel like you have to dull your conversation so as not to be overheard.

The food was excellent, the wine: excellent, the atmosphere: excellent!!
Karl Anderson
from Cardiff

Jun 18, 2014

Don't really get what all the fuss was about. I'm lucky enough to dine out at a lot of starred restaurants and I couldn't see anything to recommend this place above any other. Of course the food is good - but it's really not memorable.
from London

Sep 2, 2013

Sociophobes take note: tables are set close to each other to create a buzzy atmosphere, but what if you're seated next to London's most irksome diners? It happened to us, there's no escape!

The Mushroom Tea and turbot courses on the Tasting Menu were outstanding - however some of the other flavours were misjudged to the point of unpleasantness (caraway overload in the canapés); and other combinations were so perfectly out of phase (scallop, kohlrabi & grapefruit) that they seemingly all cancelled each other out.

Unfortunately, just too many things to moan about for the size of the bill.

May 31, 2012

Hidden away just of of Regent Street, this is a little gem. We arrived a little early, however the staff were friendly and welcoming. The bar has a comfortable seating area where we enjoyed a pre dinner drink. Decor remindec me of the seventies, and tables a little too close for anyone wanting an in
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