Talking about food: POLLEN STREET SOCIAL, W1
I started writing about my recent food eating experiences because I needed a writing exercise to get over my writer's block. But I've really enjoyed writing in detail about food and all that accompanies food.
When I first started writing these little posts I thought about liking each experience to an ex-lover, as each restaurant had its own little quirks, likes and dislikes, and eating is such a personal, visceral experience that conjures up strange connections that can only be likened to love and lust. Then I realised that I eat out quite a bit. If I continued writing these posts I'd get to the point of running out of ex-lovers and I'd be referring to an eatery as 'like that guy, with the funny hat I made out with near the bathrooms in Fabric all those years ago', plus it was possibly a slightly clichéd analogy and a little crude.
Pollen Street Social is anything but crude. It is a restaurant that is in delicate, soft focus - romance through calm, clean lines and various shades of cream, yet somehow manages to be personal and interesting. Subtle. Everything about it is subtle. I felt suspicious, like was I going to be lulled into enthusiastically agreeing to hand over my first-born.
And very, very quickly I was lulled. I was romanced by the numerous bottles of champagne to choose from, to begin my lunch with. And I was ok with this.
We went for lunch on a Friday. A late sitting, so we got the rush, buzzy feeling at the beginning of our meal but then it calmed down and we had very attentive service. Not that it wasn't attentive to begin with, it's just that a full restaurant means staff doesn't have the same amount of time as they do when it's half empty. The trick of dinning is not just about going where good food lives, but also timing. Monday nights, and early sittings are my favourite. Avoid Friday and Saturday nights at all costs. My favourite spot is 6pm on a Thursday, at Arbutus.
1.30pm on a Friday at Pollen Street Social is a definite win.
As you can imagine all of it was perfect. The beautiful crockery. The absolute attention to detail from the waiter. The adorable amuse bouche!
I’m a fan of things lacking symmetry, and I’m a fan of repetition. The crab salad was my idea of perfect art, circles upon circles, so many textures, keeping to a colour palette… And the proportions of food-to-plate, were also very pleasing. Oh yes, and it was fucking delicious, but you knew that already. Personally I could have done with a touch more salt, but I love salt, so I think to everyone else it would have been just fine.
This autumn has been my season for venison, so that was my choice of main. Again, a beautiful looking plate, with incredible flavours to match. It came with beetroot, and beetroot is such a glorious vegetable – so full of colour and yet earthy to taste and sweet. It feels elegant and humble in equal measures. (This is also been my year of beetroot.) This beetroot was my best to date.
A habit we have when eating out is to ask the sommelier to pick us our wine. We give a couple of vetoes, and a price range. My veto is Australian Shiraz. I am sure I there are beautiful Australian Shiraz’s, but I’ve just had too many bad experiences with them – heavy handed, crude affairs. But that’s the point of a veto, it can be based on emotion and can be irrational.
We started with a half bottle of chardonnay, which I think was Australian, and I think was recommended in defiance of my red wine veto. It was delicious anyway. Yummy, yummy buttery chardonnay.
Then an Italian wine - Virtus Marchesi di Gresy 2004 Barbera/ Cabernet Sauvignon. Perfect. Exactly what we wanted.
At the end of the meal we had a lovely chat with the sommelier. He spoke about the wine he thought were interesting, and why. We had a long conversation about the cheese, and the cheese supplier (La Fromagerie) who we LOVE as well. Then we talked about our favorite wine shop, Highbury Vinters, which is beside the Islington La Fromagerie shop. It is always great to have conversations with those that work with the food and wine daily, to hear their thoughts on what they serve.
Would I go back to Pollen Street Social? Of course, it is perfection that if offered to you, you wouldn’t, you couldn’t, say no. I felt it was a special experience. But, I think Pollen Street Social is like a perfect one night stand - gorgeous, with all the right moves, not a hand out of place, his aftershave delicately still clings to your memory, and yet the next day you can’t quite remember his name (Alec? Alex? Maybe Alejo!?). Or maybe you don’t want to remember, as it could ruin the illusion.
We ate there on Friday 7 Novemeber, 2014.