It's not every day that you eat at a Michelin starred restaurant - but then I guess it's not every day that you turn 24. Last Tuesday, my dad took me for a surprise birthday lunch at London's hottest ticket and I can quite honestly say that it was the best meal of my life.
I took a half day to join my dad for an aperitif at Shampers before we headed over to Pollen Street Social, off Maddox Street in Mayfair, incidentally opposite the site of a former pub where my parents used to drink in their very early days. I'd been to the Social once previously for a cocktail - the barman asked me what flavours I liked and whipped me up an autumnal take on a mojito to die for - and had actually met the main man himself, Jason Atherton, very briefly. However, it couldn't have prepared me for the culinary expertise we went on to indulge in.
We kicked off with a Bloody Mary each before choosing a bottle of Pomerol to share over lunch. Whilst we were poring over the incredible menu, we were brought appetisers of homemade bread with a salted cod cheek dip, salted gorda olives and pork scratching 'crisps' served with an apple and mustard relish.
Then, I chose the Cornish seabass which was served with a cuttlefish, parsley and cockle chowder with squid ink potatoes. The vibrant colour and flavour of the veloute against the perfectly-cooked white fish was absolutely perfect. Dad, who had a similar dish from the lunch menu, whole-heartedly agreed.
We were then given a palate cleanser of passionfruit granita with a mango and lime foam, before I couldn't resist ordering a lemon verbena sorbet with bergamot meringue and olive oil gel. Yes, really. It was a day of indulgence, evidently. Further proven by the white chocolate coated freeze-dried raspberries and mini macarons (we chose green tea, peach and chocolate) that came served with our coffees.
The service, as expected, was impeccable and the experience out of this world. Whilst it may be easy to scoff at the prices of expensive restaurants, the proof of the pudding really is in the eating. With the most inspired combinations of ingredients and the most impeccable attention to detail in all areas, that's taken absolute years to accomplish, the price at Pollen Street Social really is worth every penny.
It's the kind of place that I'd make weekly return trips to if I could (I can't), and it's now top of my recommendations if anyone ever asks me. An incredibly indulgent meal, for all the right reasons, that left the most amazing taste in my mouth. Which was still there two days later when I polished off the incredible bitter chocolate pave that the maitre d' had given me as a birthday present. Perfect.
Photos taken from the Pollen Street Social website