Let me first start by saying that I am big fan of Jason Atherton; both the person and chef. I have read his book, seen him on TV in numerous roles and also seen him first hand interacting with chefs and guests in his restaurants. Until last week I have only eaten at Maze & Maze Grill and I have nothing but the highest praise for his cooking talent and relaxed approach to fine dining.
Now that he has branched out on his own I was very excited about going to his latest venture Pollen Street Social where he has the chance to spread his wings and properly cement his reputation away from the Ramsay empire.
Over the past couple of months I have read many interviews with Jason about his plans and ideas for the restaurant and I love the relaxed pub/social club concept with a big (bookable) bar area and the chance to pop in just for a drink and/or small bite to eat. The dessert bar– while not being new – is certainly a first at this level of ambition. The early reviews that I read where all very positive including top marks (or very near) in most of the major broadsheets. However two days before my visit I read this review in the Metro by Marina O’Loughlin. Now I take most reviews with a pinch of salt and this was no exception…
Sadly though, Marina was mostly spot on with her scathing remarks – I will question her views on the food (although I didn’t try the the Full English Breakfast) as everything we sampled on the day was truly excellent. The menu was a lot simpler and shorter than at Maze – but that is understandable. But the service… oh my; It was truly shocking! Too many staff, no attention to detail, certainly no communication and way, way too slow – everything was out of synch and lacked any level of consistency (other than bad). We had spilled wine (no apologies), missed orders (no apologies), incorrect presentation of dishes and truffles literally thrown onto the plate. It was truly embarrassing! I am sure that Jason would have wept if he had witnessed it himself!
In fact I have written him a personal email it was that bad (I will keep you posted) – as it is true that while great service won’t save a restaurant with bad food; Bad service will kill a restaurant however good the food is… and this is borderline!
So with the perceptive words from our waiter (I kid you not!) “So how was it this evening? Great food, shit service I guess” still hanging in the air, we agreed, paid and left… never to return?