First and foremost it's about enjoyment: they want to create an environment where you can have a good time around food and drink. In the age of informality, that also means creating an informal environment where you can relax: no hushed tones and whispering here, the dining room should (and does) have a buzz. The room too is light and visually interesting with contemporary art and design.
They also want people to feel more involved with the food which has, amongst other things, given rise to the no reservations dessert bar, more of that later. It also gave rise to a very extensive menu in their first week of opening with the purpose of putting the meal construction into the hands of the diners. Some found this confusing while others found that too much choice can itself get in the way of enjoyment. They listened to feedback and rapidly changed up the menu such that it is now simpler and easier to navigate.
The bar area, also called 'The Social Room' is open all day for drinks and tapas, and is likely to be your first waypoint before moving through to the dining room itself. The cocktails are broadly prohibition era but given a modern twist. The Breakfast Martini dates from the Marmalade Cocktail created in the Savoy of the 1920s, since updated by Salvatore Calabrese at the Library Bar in the 1990s and now finding itself garnished with toast and marmalade here in The Social Room. Best of all though was the Prince of Wales (see first picture below) that uses dry ice at the bottom of a goblet no less to produce a magical witches brew that pops, bubbles and overflows. It nicely captures both the lightness and serious intent of what they are trying to do here.
The PBJ (Peanut butter & jelly) is simply excellent on both textures and flavours while the Tiramisu was fantastically indulgent. Finally, cheesecake and rhubarb that was refreshing rather than acidic. The puddings here are well thought out, well constructed and quite sophisticated offerings rather than just aiming for a bullseye on your sweet tooth. All lovely though.
In their first week of opening, there were clearly some issues, we can't comment as we weren't there, but here in week two, things are running well: food coming to the table is pretty much spot on and service too is settling down. Things are only likely to get better from here as everyone further settles into their roles and the rate of change slows. We can't help but feel that PSS is likely to be increasingly well regarded over time.
We've always enjoyed Jason Atherton's cooking and now he has his own place, he can fully deliver on his (considerable) talents without restraints. And in our opinion, Pollen Street Social achieves its aims in providing a place to go where you simply have a good time, a social time, revolving around good food and drink. On both occasions that we've been, we've left happy, with a smile on our face, mission accomplished. As such, we think it's a great addition to the London restaurant scene and we're already planning another return visit.
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