Little Social Bar. All Photos in this Post courtesy of NHYM 2015.
5 Pollen Street, London W1s 1NE
Food: 4.25 stars
Atmosphere: 4.25 stars
Design: 4 stars
Service: 4 stars
Overall: 4 stars
As previously mentioned in my last post, it is ‘birthday month’ and I am featuring new restaurants that I have been meaning to go to but have never gotten around to. When it came to organising a birthday dinner for one of my oldest friends, literally almost 40 years of friendship and hateship, Little Social popped in my mind. For the uninitiated like myself, Little Social is one of the many restaurants sprouted by the chef extraordinaire, Jason Atherton. I am quite behind in the times, having not been to a single one of his restaurants apart from Maze. I mean where have I been? (Well, Chiltern Firehouse & West 36 have been keeping me quite busy). Perhaps it was because I really did not like Maze the time I went there, which he headed under Gordon Ramsay, which kept me away from JA for so long.
Little Social Staircase. NHYM 2015.
I had heard lots of good things about Pollen Street Social but decided against it, because I don’t really need another white-tablecloth-1-star-Michelin-too-many-ingredients-on-a-plate-lots-0f-sauces-restaurant experience. Yes, completely blasphemous, but my stomach can no longer handle foods that taste like something else they are supposed to taste like (i.e. ice-cream that tastes like pork belly anyone?) or having three main ingredients and twelve accompaniments on one plate. I wanted something more casual, and I felt that Little Social was a good place to re-start my Jason Atherton experience. (Social Eating House will be next on my list, but dining with a bunch of French people made me think that Little Social would make them feel right at home).
Little Social Poster 2015.
Little Social is a French brasserie-style restaurant on a quiet Pollen Street, and across from its more famous sibling, Pollen Street Social. From the outside, you could think you were entering a casual bistro/brasserie in the Marais, but there is something about it that makes it much more glamorously sophisticated. There are the same old French posters you see everywhere, but it’s bar is very attractive, and the banquette dining is intimate for sinful conversations. The crowd is a mixed international crowd, you could hear some finance sharks, lots of French and German continentals, and a few foodies in the mix. But I am liking it so far.
Little Social Menu. NHYM 2015.
The menu has lots of appetising starters and mains, with lots of mushroom dishes (tagliatelle & risotto) and grilled steaks. My friends ordered the steak tartare as starters, which is a bavette tartar, usually a lesser cut, therefore which you could overlook as being as good as it was. I ordered the roasted quail with confit leg, foie gras and cherries. Ok, so perhaps not as casual dining as I had anticipated, this is elegant food after all, and the combination of cherries and quail was really delicious.
Mushroom tagliatelle & Sirloin Steak. NHYM 2015.
For our mains, my friends all opted for the mushroom tagliatelle and mushroom risotto while I stuck with what I do best; eat meat. I ordered the sirloin steak (since I had had a rib eye the night before). The Sirloin had been appropriately aged 28 days and was very good. We were very happy indeed with our food. Table talk consisted of what happened to transgenders’ sexual orientation after a sex change. For example, as a man who becomes a woman, do you still want a woman or do you start to like men? It then veered towards the late-in-life sexual discoveries, like that husband’s wife who left him for another woman (just like Ross’ first wife in friends who leaves him for another woman), or the father of a friend’s friend who left his wife for his driver. It takes all kinds of people to make this world interesting. We concluded that we were very happy for Bruce Jenner’s choices.
Crumble & Carrot Cake. NHYM 2015.
For dessert we shared a crumble and a light and fluffy carrot cake (not what you’d expect, I know), which were both yummy but the piece de resistance came later, when we went across the street to have a drink at Pollen Street Social. Pollen Street Social has a very large bar that you could go to, just for a drink, and not look like you are waiting to be seated. It is a bigger version of the Little Social bar, just a more elegant and refined version with sofas and seats you could sit on for hours. We ordered cocktails, which were summery and minty with a flower adornment, and with that came an assembly of desserts that made us regret even having ordered the previous dessert.
Pollen Street Social After-dinner Drinks & Dessert. NHYM 2015.
There was a small chocolate mousse as an amuse bouche, an almond petit four to share and a white-chocolate ball on top of a cone looking like an ice-cream (like I said, foods looking/tasting like other foods). They were absolutely divine. I would come back just for the cocktails and desserts. This night was a perfect combination of casual, brasserie dining, followed by a gorgeous bar, cocktail and second desserts at Pollen Street Social. I may be won over by Jason Atherton after all. The design, food and atmosphere were spot on, but it was those cocktails and yes, that chocolate ball looking like an ice-cream, that really won me over.