Thursday, 7 April 2016
London's best lunch? Perfection in Pollen Street
Lunch is the most economical time to enjoy London's Michelin starred restaurants. That's when you get set menus at reasonable prices. And the best I have eaten in a long time - perhaps ever - was this week at Jason Atherton's Pollen Street Social, near Oxford Circus. It wasn't just the menu itself (2 courses for £32, 3 for £37) but the of little extras: an array of amuse gueules including tiny tartlets of beetroot and blackberry, a light mushroom drink with powder and a palate cleansing pre-dessert of courgette yoghurt and basil. And the main menu? My starter and dessert, respectively a slow cooked Burford Brown egg, turnip purée, parmesan, sage & kombu crumb,and chicken gravy - irresistibly reminiscent of a rich dish of eggs cooked with red wine that I kept drawing me back to a small restaurant in Montparnasse - and a dark chocolate marquise, milk mousse and honey ice cream were both impressive enough. But the star course was the main of roasted Cornish cod, flageolet beans, courgette and cockle chowder. This was simply stunning. The fish was just cooked so that it was flaky, delicate and near translucent . The chowder that remained the it was gone outgunned any I have eaten on the coast of New England - and that's saying something. It was excellent value, though the wine list wasn't for those on tight budgets. That said one doesn't consume irresponsibly at lunchtime and I could not begrudge paying £9.50 for a glass of delicious dryish Loire chenin blanc from a producer who had not exported to the UK before doing a deal with the restaurant. Add in pre dinner cocktails (this was by way of a minor celebration), coffees and 12.5% for service which could only be described as outstanding, and the total bill for four people came to approximately £280.And for those with a phobia of packed eateries with diners cheek by jowl, it's worth adding that this is the polar opposite. It's obvious;y popular with the business community but tables are sufficiently spaced that you'e unlikely to overhear any handy investment information. Is this the capital's best star lunch deal? I can't answer that of course, not having eaten my way through all of them. But it would be hard to beat.