For no better reason than indulging ourselves on a day off, sister-in-law & I have decided to splurge on a decadent lunch at Michelin starred Pollen Street Social.
It’s not quite as extravagant as you may think – 2 courses at lunch set you back £28 with three courses coming in at £35. There’s a relaxed and open atmosphere pervading the restaurant but on a Monday lunchtime, it is largely full of business lunchers, no doubt taking advantage of a good deal.
While we peruse the menu (it’s short but really difficult to decide), amuse bouches arrive, attractively presented in a box made to look like a book. Not sure about why it’s in a book, but there’s a pork crackling piece, caraway wafer and Parmesan crisp. The caraway wafer & pork crackling are both a little dry and therefore a bit gloopy when chewed but loved the rich crumbly Parmesan cheese crisp. It tasted a bit like what I imagine Cheese flavoured shortbread to taste like – gooood.
All the starter options look great but after much pondering, I opt for the full English breakfast with soft cooked egg. It’s beautifully assembled, with thin crisp slices of bacon, crouton, tomato puree (a little too much of this I thought) with the aforementioned soft cooked egg oozing rich orangey yolk into my plate. The tomato was a little overpowering & I personally felt the dish was a little over-salted.
Sister-in-law has opted for the gamey mosaic terrine and it’s another beautifully presented plate. The terrine is rich and chunky and I feel she may have the ordering edge here.
We had a similar problem choosing our mains – but I’ve settled on the Pork Belly, served with Potato Hash, Sauerkraut, smoked sausage & sprout tops. Once again, very attractively presented and in a way quite unusual for Pork Belly. It was tender and fell apart at the slightest hint of my knife slicing into it. The potato hash with smoked sausage wasn’t really to my taste, it was too lumpy and a little too salty again for me. The sauerkraut, although nice, didn’t add an awful lot to the overall experience, the pork being the star of the show.
The other main at the table was the Roast red-legged partridge with spiced orange & fennel & coffee-pickled dates & walnuts. Again, this is a beautiful plate (Do you sense a bit of a pattern here?) and the partridge is well cooked and nicely flavoured.
So far, so good. The mains are good. But it’s been a few weeks since our visit & now that I’m writing this, my memory is a little hazy on details. I had to revisit the photos to remember what I had and sister-in-law confessed she felt the same.
Before we arrive at dessert, we’re offered a palate cleanser of mandarin sorbet with yoghurt foam and kaffir lime. I’m not a fan of this, as it’s just a little too bitter, although it does what is says on the tin, and refreshes the tastebuds.
The desserts are a far more memorable course – we’re faced with the option of continuing with our set menu or going off piste to check out the dessert bar menu (PSS has its very own dessert bar spanning one side of the room & I regret not decamping there to watch the dessert making in action) but nevertheless we’ve taken them up on the offer to order from the other menu.
This too requires a long length of time to make our decisions and we’ve finally agreed on our options – I go for ‘Thai flavours’, its a concoction of Peanut cream, green apple & yuzu purée with compressed celery and frozen praline. There isn’t enough ‘Thai’ in it for me, I’d have preferred a Lemongrass hit to give it that Thai flavour, its more of what I’d consider to be a apple pie with a mild peanut flavour. The peanut cream I feel should be a little colder as it’s a little anti climatic at room temperature, but overall, this is a very refreshing and zingy dessert.
Sister-in-law has won the dessert lottery though, she’s gone for a ‘PBJ’, peanut parfait with cherry yuzu sorbet and a peanut wafer crunch. This is all my childhood memories of a peanut butter and jam sandwich rolled into a dessert and I wished I’d gone for this one.
While finishing off our desserts, we’re intrigued by a herb trolley we’ve been watching do the rounds of the restaurant – naturally we can’t resist and decide to try for ourselves its offerings. We can choose our own herb combo to make our own fresh teas and while this is a great idea in theory, the results are a little weak. We both for basil, lemongrass and mint but the flavour is overwhelmingly mint, the basil & lemongrass making very little impact. This answers the question on why more restaurants don’t offer such a trolley themselves.
We had a great time at Pollen Street social, the staff were friendly and polite, the room has a buzz about it that seamlessly marries the fun with the formality required for occasion dining but the details of the meal simply don’t spring to mind so quickly, which in itself is quite telling.
Try it out for yourself, it won’t break the bank and you’ll certainly have a nice time.