maître d’ - Pollen Street Social, London
Written by Craig Butcher
Gordon Ramsay’s protégé Jason Atherton made a bold move away from Ramsay’s Maze concept, striking out on his own with a unique idea – a British ‘social eating’ spot. It’s proved a massive hit in London.
It took chef Jason Atherton 12 months to develop and execute the concept behind Pollen Street Social. It took the Michelin inspectors just 11 months to notice, awarding the venue a Michelin star in April 2011. Since then, Atherton’s unique take on the modern dining experience has won him plaudits from pundits, punters, and professionals alike.
“The Pollen Street Social ethos is to turn fine dining into fun and give people the complete night out,” says Atherton. “So, serious food with great service and of course great drinks and a fun night out.”
There are several distinct spaces, including the main dining room Restaurant, the no-bookings cocktails-and-tapas bar known as the Social, and the unique Dessert Bar – pull up one of six chairs and ogle the pastry chefs as they prepare your dessert.
It makes for a vibrant, urban, and distinctly cosmopolitan ambience. But inclusive is the new exclusive, and in these modern times everyone’s invited. “Social eating means sharing and communal dining,” says Atherton. “So you can come along and eat and drink as much or as little as you like. If you are a single diner looking for a quick bite and beer, or for a celebratory tasting menu, the Social provides that.”
With Atherton at the top of his game, but his prices yet to catch up, now’s the time to experience London’s restaurant future.
What’s on the menu?
The Restaurant has an ever-shifting range of art, sleek wooden furniture, and crisp white tablecloths, while the Social is more a boisterous, modern gentleman’s club not taking itself too seriously. Both offer tapas-style small dishes, which can be ordered on their own, as starters or used to create a tasting menu. “The British seasons are very, very important and make my menu and inspire my choices,” says Atherton. Signature dishes in the Restaurant include a main plate of West Country ox cheek with tongue and sirloin, carrots, and caper and raisin purée. In the Social, the all-day tapas menu includes bacon and scallop in the shell with seaweed butter. At the Dessert Bar, try the tiramisu with hot chocolate coffee.