Monday 14 January 2019

Pollen Street Social, Pollen Street, Central London

At any Michelin-starred restaurant in London, a three course lunch for £37 is a bargain. At the expertly-run Pollen Street Social, it is almost a steal, particularly if you steer clear of the pricey wine list. Although there are only three choices for each course, the waiting staff also bring a steady stream of extras, so your taste buds will be well and truly stimulated. These memorable morsels include an afternoon-tea themed mix of appetisers, featuring caviar, smoked salmon, cucumber and a mini-Victoria sponge cake. The miniature mushroom soup, which appears before the main course, is also delicious.

In some respects, these little treats overshadow the actual dishes. Among the starters, the game and duck liver terrine, served with a blackberry and orange preserve and truffle jus, is rich and tasty, but the smooth texture is a little off-putting. The plump scallop with an artichoke soup could be a better bet. For a main course, the cod with red wine risotto is nicely presented, but the flavours are a little lame. The pork chop, served with roasted onion, turnip and thyme oil, packs more of a punch. In any case, you can't fault the forced rhubarb mousse, which is a top drawer desert - sophisticated creamy, sweetness. The velvety chocolates that follow the deserts are also a delight.

The Two Rivers Sauvignon Blanc (£53 for a bottle) is clean and crisp, which it should be at that price. A big bottle of sparkling water, branded Blenheim Palace, is also expensive at £5, but not extortionate. As you would expect, the service is very professional and very polite, while the large dining room is spacious and well-lit. There is a predominance of blonde wood and the lighting is funky, while the walls are lined with striking pieces of abstract art - some better than others. In any case, you may be distracted by your fellow diners, some of whom seem to take an endless stream of phone calls, while continually getting up and down - presumably restless wannabes. Somewhat avant-garde, the Pollen Street Social delivers a varied and great-value Michelin-starred lunch. 8/10