You may remember my recent write up of my visit to Jason Atherton's new restaurant Pollen Street Social a couple of months back? Well to make a long story short, I left the restaurant being rather disappointed with the meal and questioning whether or not 'soft openings' (this is usually the first week when a restaurant opens and sometimes a discount may be given to diners to encourage patronage) are a reason for restaurants to 'drop the ball' and serve up an underwhelming culinary experience.To my surprise, my review gained quite a lot of attention and when Jason Atherton himself got in touch with me regarding my write up, I was nervous to say the least. But I have always been a big fan of Jason's and hopefully what I wrote came across as constructive rather than critical. As i read the message, I quickly saw that it was different to what I thought was going to be said. Jason had read my review and felt disappointed that things weren't perfect on the night and with this in mind, he asked me to come back to Pollen Street Social and give him and his team a chance to prove themselves and their capabilities in the kitchen. I was so touched that a Chef would care this much about any review and without losing his temper, invite the author back for another meal.Nervously I walked into the restaurant and Jason was standing at reception and called out my name. At this point, I genuinely think I may have peed myself just a tiny bit from being so nervous... not sure why! Once seated, we were presented with the menus and I was so surprised to see how very different the content was. No more 'sharing' plates and not so many choices either. The menu was thinned down to a more digestible size with many of the less popular dishes that we had from the first visit, removed entirely. I was so impressed that here is a Chef, who is incredibly well known in the UK and he has done what VERY FEW CHEFS in the UK do... put his own thoughts and ego aside and genuinely listened to the public. Having worked with many Chefs in the past (some of which read my blog, so I have to be careful!) A Chef's work culminates on a plate... when we carelessly critique their food, we are essentially criticising their life's work!The dishes I chose were simple, well-sourced and abundant in flavour. A beautiful selection of multi-coloured beetroot with Goat's curd to start with, delicate and unpretentious with sweet beetroot pieces complimented by creamy Goat's curd. My main course was the real star of the show; Halibut with Paella and clams - absolutely packed with flavour and every forkful melted in the mouth. And who on earth prepared those asparagus spears? They were so expertly trimmed, which made me think about truly how much effort goes into making one main course. From vegetables, to the Paella, to the Halibut itself followed by the clams, the sauce and most likely another dozen elements that aren't immediately obvious to the average diner. No wonder the my write up prompted him to contact me; I guess we never truly factor in just how much effort goes into producing food like this.We were rather spoiled rotten for dessert. I don't really have a sweet tooth if I'm honest, but I do like to find something to nibble on and the infamous 'dessert bar' at Pollen Street Social has been raved about by many. 'PB and J' - A disassembled peanut butter and jelly dessert which was nice but didn't entirely float my boat. The chocolate 'Tiramisu' dessert was more my cup of tea although after a rather large meal, it proved to be a little too rich. The very pleasing site of a sorbet selection was right up my street as I do love to be able to try a little of everything and the sorbet selection hit the spot perfectly.Staff and service weren't really part of the problem on my initial visit and they still remain very professional, courteous and no doubt have found their stride since the opening. The bar at Pollen Street Social is great, it must be said. Huge whole leg of Jamon Iberico on the bar waiting for some lucky patron to order up an expertly carved plateful. Fantastic cocktails too and a great place to order some grazing nibbles whilst having a drink (or four!) If only more Chefs genuinely cared about what people truly thought, whether right or wrong, and implemented some changes to show that they were listening, then the culinary scene would be greatly improved. Although Jason, don't change too much for us... We like you, very much, just as you are.
Pollen Street Social - 8/10 Pollen Street, London W1S 1NQ
Tel: +44(0)20 7290 7600