Post Camp Bestival, I felt like I deserved a few nice dinners…and I’d heard great things about Jason Atherton, the chef who runs Pollen Street Social.
I mentioned that I was going on Twitter:
‘Get the cocktails, they are amazing’ I was advised.
I was also recommended the ‘Burrata, heirloom tomato, gazpacho starter’.
The first thing I noticed was the special stool for your handbag… I guess if you’ve spent £600 on a bag you don’t want its expensive bottom on the floor. Mine cost £30 from Hennes but I appreciate the thought.
I ordered the famous Burrata, heirloom tomato, gazpacho starter. Ok, how to explain the size of it without actually taking a ruler for scale. The top pic looks…well large doesn’t it? The second pic gives you more of an idea. Three ‘heirloom’ tomato segments in a vast white bowl. A tea spoon, literally, of burrata. A quenelle of tomato sorbet. Then they did that posh poury thing of the gazpacho around the work of art in the middle. I’ve done it meself. The punters love that kinda shit and it’s a great way of making a soup more interesting with some kind of food sculpture in the middle.
But Jase my love, why so fucking mean with the burrata? I LOVE burrata. This was a prick tease of a dish and not in a good way. With burrata you want a bulging testicle of a cheese curd, that you can gobble teabag style (look it up you bunch of vanillas), not a mingy tea spoon. And the heirloom tomatoes…they may have been different colours but they tasted crap: acidic, flavourless, hard, cold. Tomato sorbet…meh. Gazpacho, another thing I totally love when done right, but it was pretty bland, under-salted too, and no discernable sherry. Nicely plated, a few strands of borage, a pansy petal ect, all very current, all very cheffy, but so what ultimately. Where was the flavour and the hospitality, the generosity? Movie executives talk about ‘seeing the money on the screen’. What they mean is, the budget was evident in the movie, it wasn’t wasted. For me, this dish wasn’t worth £9.50p. I felt deprived. The money wasn’t on the plate.
“You don’t like it?” he asked incredulous.
“It’s, er, well, boring.”
“It’s boring? Boring?“ He couldn’t believe his ears.
“It’s ok, I’m not sending it back, it’s just not very interesting”.
He straightened his back and sniffed “I’ll let the chef know”.
As he was parting, I called out “Don’t spit in my food”.
“It tastes like a stir-in sauce!”
Maybe it’s me though. I just don’t think I get posh restaurants, I’m too much of a peasant. If it’s all form and little content (taste) then I get depressed and fractious. But customers/critics/bloggers seem to like that here. But it leads me to ask: Can the English cook? And do they know how to eat? Why do people want to go to restaurants and pay lots of money for teeny weeny portions?
I went right on opening so didn't blog it, but I wasn't overwhelmed. Portions were extremely small for the price and the fussiness seemed to be for fussiness' sake, not to add deliciousness. Some of the dishes I did like, but others were nice but, as you say, a bit "so what" given the price. I thought the dessert bar the strongest aspect and there's only room for a few people a night.
But it's full every night and just won some award…weird!
Really disappointed. Food wasn't even ok – all pretty bland and as you say tiny, tiny portions. Best thing was the steak but not worth the eye-watering £42. Service was diabolical – maybe I don't understand 'new' London. Didn't bother staying for the puddings – nipped down the road to Sketch for some fancy cakes.
Agree, all of the way, I really didn't like it (http://www.grumblinggourmet.com/2011/04/pollen-street-social-emperors-new.html), and then have tried in a half arsed-ish way to go back and see whether it's just me, and then gone to Goodman instead… at that kind of price it isn't acceptable to be small and only slightly interesting, like a foodie Alexa Chung, you need to make people feel like they've had a really special experience.
haha the alexa chung of restaurants!
Well, I've certainly eaten at plenty of terribly posh restaurants where the individual portions look small. But if I leave the restaurant with a comfortably-full feeling then they have delivered the right quantity no matter how tiddly the plates looked (quality, different issue). Of course, I've left some posh restaurants still feeling like I could polish off a kebab, so there are indeed some mean buggers out there. That gazpacho looked mean.
But there are plenty of posh restaurants that can deliver a filling meal of tiny portions. Probably largely through sustained levels of massive calorific intake in each tiny course! Bless 'em.
I really do like the pomp and splendour of these posh places, and I think the portion size allows you to savour the delicacy of flavour more.
I haven't been to this place yet, but shall definately be keeping an open mind.
"look it up you vanillas'…Brilliant! I laughed out loud. Atherton has a restaurant in Sydney now, and ( Kensington St Local) , and I have been thinking of going for my birthday, on the strength of this I may let some of my more well heeled friends try it out before I commit Seems like a shame if – other than your main which sounds terrible, and why did they not offer to give you a drink or something else, small gesture, but goes a long way towards good feeling – the food was otherwise good and portioj size is what prevented you enjoyingit.
Kerstin Rodgers aka MsMarmiteLover
I went to another one of his restaurants and there was nothing veggie on the menu really. So I ordered 'poutine' but asked for it to be veggie. Along came a bowl of chips with some cheese on top and pickled jarred jalapeños. Dreadful.