Review: Little Social & Pollen Street Social Restaurants


Little Social Bar. All Photos in this Post courtesy of NHYM 2015. 

Little Social 

Tel 02078703730

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.





Pollen Street Social Drinks Cart. NHYM 2015. 
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Reviews, Uncategorized

Lunch Review of West 36’s Terrace

West 36 

36 Golborne Road London W10 5NR

Tel 020 3752 0530

Food: 4.5 stars

Service: 5 stars

Decor: 4.25 stars

Value for money: N/A as this was a complimentary lunch

Overall: 4.5 stars


West 36 outdoor terrace. NHYM 2015. All photos in this post courtesy of NHYM. 

June is for me, the ‘birthday month,’ with so many birthdays to attend, I am trying out all sorts of new or need-to-try restaurants, so you will see lots of restaurant reviews coming up. This week, I have 3 birthdays to attend/organise/surprise. So, when I needed to take one of my dearest friends out to lunch and I was simultaneously invited to try West 36’s lunch, the timing couldn’t be better. I booked myself in for lunch with Anna at West 36 this past Monday.


Anna enjoying the sunshine while waiting for my arrival. NHYM 2015. 

When I arrived, the waitress led me to the best table on the terrace, where my gorgeous friend Anna was waiting and a few other people were finishing their lunches. West 36 has a lovely outdoor terrace on their first floor, which seemed highly under-used on a warm day. They had immediately offered her a glass of Champagne on arrival, perhaps mind-reading that it was her birthday. Or perhaps just because they were trying to impress me. Either way, it was a very nice touch and I like being impressed. The terrace itself is cosy, with striped grey and white cushions to sit on, channeling a Shoreditch House vibe, with hanging lightbulbs and and an industrial landscape. The music in the background was Cafe-del-Mar-like, putting us a in a light and happy mood confirming that, yes, it is really the start of the summer.


Raspberry mules posing for the camera. NHYM 2015. 

Our lovely waitress brought us some raspberry mules cocktails. Vodka cocktails for lunch you may ask? Well, it was her birthday, and I was celebrating a day of hard work in the land of blogging. Could be worst. She was wearing the requisite bowtie and suspenders, which I personally love, and made the affair even more theatrical and enjoyable. Later, she brought two more glasses of Champagne. It’s been a long time since someone (anyone) was trying to get me drunk.


West 36 menu 2015. 

Now for the food. Usually, the food at West 36 tends to be on the heavier, meatier side, but we were able to find lighter fare on the menu and prepared ourselves for a light lunch. We were salivating at the Cheeseburger next door, but our lunch ended up in pure decadence, with our multiple courses.


Grilled squid starter. NHYM 2015.

We started with a grilled calamari starter with broad beans and a summer salad, drizzled with fresh lemon. Summer succulence at its best. It was light, tasty and perfectly grilled. This could have been enough as a main salad for lunch, but as we were sharing, this was just the beginning.


Mains of Chicken, lemon sole, and artichoke. NHYM 2015. 

I ordered the lemon sole, one of the few sea-dwelling dishes on the menu apart from lobster and the shellfish platter (I did think twice about ordering the shellfish platter, but felt a smidgen guilty about this Monday afternoon decadence). As a side dish, I had the artichokes and broad beans, with mint and raisins. The actual fish taste and texture was OK for a sole, nothing terribly special, but not necessarily the chef’s fault. Not all fish are created equal, and perhaps I just got the luck of the draw of a mediocre fish. The tarragon butter and and sea kale did lift its spirits up, which made up for it, and the artichokes were great. I loved the mint, a summer herb which fills me of memories of Pimm’s and fresh summer salads. My friend had the half chicken with herbs, which was huge, as the portions are known to be here.


The famous Apple Pie. NHYM 2015. 

When we were asked if we wanted dessert and we were told the apple pie would take 15 minutes to make because it would be freshly made, we thought, well we’ve been here already almost 2 hours, we might as well make it a record. We ordered fresh mint tea and continued our long discussion on life, the difficulties of raising children, and how fast the passing years seem to be now that we have children. Yes, I know, but this was after 2 champagnes and cocktails at 1pm. We had a good excuse for our nostalgic narrative. The Apple Pie was excellent, much better than the last time I had it here, perhaps because they were trying to impress, or perhaps because it is just very good.


Two and a half hours later, we stumbled out of West 36, filled with great food, great conversation and lots of bubbly. This had been a perfect lunch on a perfect afternoon with great company. Off we went in our separate directions for school pick ups, worried that the other mums would notice our tipsy states and start whispering about our mid-day alcoholism. West 36 is great for lunch, although it was quite empty. But the good news was that 1) the service was excellent 2) we had plenty of room (which were some of my previous complaints) and 3) we could gossip all we wanted without anyone listening to our conversation. You can’t have it all.

For those who find West 36 too busy at night, the daytime, during-the-week alternative is just the opposite, quiet, relaxed, and understated, and it is wholly being missed out by many, probably due to its out-of-the-way location. But next time I am looking for a terrace to sit at on a lovely sunny day, this terrace is one to book.






‘Review: Paradise By Way of Kensal Green’


All photos in this post courtesy of NHYM 2015 apart from one. 

Food: 3.8 stars

Atmosphere:  3.85 stars

Service: 4 stars

Design: 4 stars

Price/Value: 3.8 stars

Overall: 3.85 stars


First floor Bar/Restaurant Courtesy of the Internet NHYM 2015


Paradise isn’t a new restaurant, but they have just put in place a new Head Chef, Cat Ashton, straight from the Petersham Nurseries to head their kitchen, and I was cordially invited to try their new menu last week. My friends fall into two camps; those cool/hipster ones that said ‘Paradise is really cool, great place!’ when I told them I was going, while the others looked at me blankly/abject wonder when I told them I was going to Kensal Green for dinner. They responded: ‘Non! Kensaal Greeen?’ shaking their heads ‘I ‘ave never ‘eard of eet!’ These latter are some of my Euro-continental friends who have never left SW3 to SW7, but I felt that it was time I covered a restaurant that may not be as polished or groomed as some of the others, but makes it up more than enough in character and colour.


The Restaurant Dining Room NHYM 2015.

Paradise is more than just a restaurant, it is a 3 levelled area of Gastro-pub, private rooms, bar and club. On the ground floor, as you are welcomed by a giant statue of an angel, there is a front bar and a private dining room on the right, with the main dining room at the back. On the first floor is a club/bar where DJs spin on weekend nights, when it gets so packed it reminds me of my first ever Metallica concert when I was 13 years old… ie. way past my age-tolerance. On other nights, they host all kinds of open-mic, poetry nights, and special events, for the true trendsters out there. In Notting Hill terms, this place could be a hybrid of Beach Blanket Babylon and the First Floor Restaurant on Portobello, decorated with religious iconography, chandeliers, candelabras, old Renaissance-style oil paintings on the wall, and mismatched wooden chairs.


Restaurant Dining Room NHYM 2015. 

The Food

But back to the restaurant, which is what I was asked to review, compliments of the house. The menu is solid English comfort food staples with a twist of sweetness (Cat must have a sweet tooth). We started off the dinner with Flower Courgette Tempura filled with Ricotta Cheese, which was quite creamy and unctuous with a honey sweetness, and a Burrata which was satisfyingly good. For our mains, both of us chose the steak. We are both hearty meat-eaters and we had the asparagus and honey-butter Rib Eye steak, which was good. Not mind-blowing good, but good nonetheless and satisfying. On the sides, we had polenta chips with parmesan, and if you hadn’t noticed, Polenta is currently all the rage at the moment.

The service was good, almost a bit too attentive, although they brought the potatoes instead of polenta at first, but quickly rectified it with a profuse apology. The wait staff were all very friendly and helpful, and actually all had English as their first language, which is quite a rarity in London.


Rib Eye Steak and polenta chips NHYM 2015.

Grand finale

For our desserts, we had the Pavlova with mango, which we were told was really the dessert to have, and was quite caramel-like chewy, and made us feel like two kids eating Carambar (a caramel candy from my youth which sticks to your teeth for the rest of the evening, for those who don’t know) and the Sticky Date Pudding, butterscotch sauce and vanilla ice-cream, which was a twist from the usual Sticky toffee pudding, but which was equally as indulgent.


Sticky Date Pudding with Butterscotch Sauce and Mango Pavlova NHYM 2015.

The Ambience/Crowd

We had an early seating, which was a novice’s mistake, as the place only really gets crowded around 8:30/9pm (tip: don’t go before 8:30pm), when it filled up with an eclectic crowd of Americans, French, English and other nationalities. Next to us was an Asian couple on probably their Friday-Night-Fourth-Date, filled with slight nervous excitement, flirting and compliments. ‘Ah young love’ I said looking at my husband, dreamily remembering our fourth date. This was date night for us, but a slightly different date night: ‘let’s-get-out-of-here-we-need-a-break-from-our-kids-date-night’. Next to them were two older women having a nice Friday night dinner together. The crowd was mixed, young and old, one table was intergenerational, while another table had a table 10 young men celebrating a birthday. Some tables were trendy, some weren’t. (The private room in the front was filled with 10 giggling, dressed to the 9s, probably celebrating a hen night).

The Verdict

We left as the younger versions of ourselves came in. I can’t comment on the rest of the place that night as we had a baby-curfew (the time when it’s time to go home because you know you will be woken up at 5am by your toddler), but from what I saw, it is place for a fun night out with a group, where the main agenda of the night is to have a good, fun night, which in some restaurants in London is hard to find (some friends have accused Chiltern Firehouse to be more about people-watching than enjoying one’s self). Dinner was Gastro-pub Good, but in a creatively goth surrounding. Mr. X really enjoyed Paradise and feels quite at home there, less ‘see and be seen’ than some of our Notting Hill/Mayfair restaurants we often frequent. So, if you’re in the neighbourhood, this one should be on top of your list to check out, Goth and all.




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