Pollen Street Social★ // Mayfair // London

Jason Atherton found his fame while running Gordon Ramsay’s Maze.  Following in his bosses footsteps, he threw himself headfirst into the world of celebrity chefdom.  After becoming a household name, it was no surprise when the Yorkshireman opened his own restaurant in 2010.

Sleek, modern yet still warm, Pollen Street is a different kind of dining room to those Londoners are used to.  Though the wooden floors and a lack of soft furnishings create a hectic and lively buzz, which borders on noisy.

And how is Mr. Atherton’s one-star “defomalised fine dining”?  Well, he calls Pollen Street a bistro, and this perhaps highlights the inherent problem with this restaurant.  Bristros don’t do fine dining, they do hearty weekend meals that you’d have with your parents.  His food sits somewhere in between.

For starters, the Jerusalem artichoke velouté, with wet walnuts and chantrelles is very nice, and has interesting textures.  Mains wise, the roasted cod, with broad beans, cockles, squid and a parsley emulsion is a good choice; simple and gratifying.  Though, perhaps the most skill in the kitchen comes from the pâtissier.  A pretty chocolate pavé with some well-worked swirls alongside a mango sorbet is at least a step-up from the bistro level.

While the food is good and the presentation is modern, there is nothing that is particularly innovative about it.  Service isn’t spectacular either, with junior waiting staff nervous and unclear on their roles, and haughty senior staff who don’t seem to care at all.

Another problem with this bistro concept is that Pollen Street charges like a proper one star.  Not even the gift of ‘cake in a box’ will cheer you-up when you realise you could have gone somewhere better for the money.

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