Food tastes best when it comes with a good story to share. Here’s one to whet your appetite.

A tale of two visits

Among our many dining adventures, Pollen Street Social, London, is especially memorable. We’ve had two very different experiences at the one-michelin-star restaurant and it was not due to their food, service or ambience. It was, instead, due to our own circumstances.

Our first visit

Our first visit to Pollen Street Social in winter 2013 was a travesty. Imagine having little stomach space for the amazing dishes being served.

We were still recovering from a bout of food-poisoning that fateful evening.

The cruel illness afflicted us on the eve of our flight to London from Provence two days before. In our weakened state, we somehow managed to get to London the next day.

Fortunately, after a good night’s rest, we recovered from the malady’s symptoms, but with one exception: Our stomachs were tightened and could only hold 5 grains of rice for a meal.

That evening at the restaurant, our tight stomachs prevented us from indulging in our usual gluttony. We did think of cancelling our reservation, but given the timing of the cancellation, we’d be charged for the no-show anyway. So we went ahead to dine there.

Being cautious, we thought it wise to just order off the a la carte menu. It was simply too ambitious to attempt the dinner set in our state.

Little did we know that the serving sizes for the a la carte dishes were uncharacteristically generous (European portions) for a fine-dining establishment. Our appetisers were the size of mains!

Despite our best efforts, we could hardly devour anything else beyond our appetisers. Our struggles were so telling that the attentive service staff got worried. They’d come over to us to check if everything was all right. One had politely pointed out that we seemed to be having trouble finishing our food. We imagine that the sight of us really isn’t something that one would expect from diners at a michelin-star restaurant. Hence, in our embarrassment, we came up with a sorry excuse for ourselves, paid for our unfinished mains and left in disappointment and embarrassment.

We resolved to dine at the restaurant again to do justice to ourselves, the restaurant and its food.

By the way, the pine-smoked quail appetiser that night was amazing! See the pictures in the galleries below.

Our second visit

We visited London again in January 2015, but some drama (to be highlighted in another entry) along the way resulted in us having to cancel our reservation at the restaurant. It seemed then that Pollen Street Social and us were just not meant to be.

Six months later, however, we finally returned to the restaurant on an impulsive trip to London. It was a bright summer afternoon in London, which gave the restaurant a cheerier feel that differs from the dim dinner ambience of our first visit. This gave us a surreal feeling. Nevertheless, it was blessing to be able to dine there again. We were bent on enjoying the food to the fullest.

With our healthy stomachs primed for lunch, we were sure to have the full dining experience. We began with a gin and tonic apertif and sat by the window at the restaurant’s bar, while waiting for our table to be ready, reminiscing about how different our circumstances were two years ago. Also on our minds was what to order. Should we should go for the lunch set or order off the a la carte menu? Decisions, decisions…

After many sips of our apetif, we were brought to our table. It was a full house and we were seated near where we were two years before. How different times were!

Knowing full well their a la carte menu’s portion sizes, we decided to share an a la carte appetiser in addition to our 2-course lunch set. True to form, our Colchester crab salad appetiser arrived in two equal portions that were each the size of a typical fine-dining restaurant’s serving portion. The service staff had thoughtfully divided up our appetiser for sharing. Imagine the size of the actual individual portion!

For mains, we had the Roast South Coast plaice with heritage carrots, yuzu & seaweed butter sauce and Ribble Valley chicken with garlic polenta, broad beans and peas.

For dessert, we had the English strawberries with buttermilk, olive oil sponge and lemon balm and Dark chocolate mousse with sour cherry sorbet, kirsch.

For surprises, we were served 2 pre-appetisers (see the other pre-appetiser), 1 pre-dessert and 2 post-desserts.

It was truly a great experience dining at Pollen Street Social. We had a great meal, finishing every scrap of food that was served to us. What a vindication it was for us to have finally done justice to the great food and service at this restaurant! We may very well return again!

Enjoy the pictures below! 🙂

In Summary
Good food
Generous serving portions
Many surprises
Attentive service

Memorable Dishes:
Pine smoked quail, ‘English breakfast’
(Appetiser – 1st visit)
Colchester crab salad with apple & coriander, black garlic, lemon purée, brown crab on toast (Appertiser – 2nd visit)
Roast South Coast plaice with heritage carrots, yuzu & seaweed butter sauce (Main – 2nd visit)
Ribble Valley chicken with garlic polenta, broad beans and peas (Main – 2nd visit)


Restaurant’s Details
Pollen Street Social, London
8/10 Pollen Street, London W1S 1NQ
020 7290 7600

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Our first visit


Our second visit