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5 Pollen Street

5 Pollen Street

 

5 Pollen Street,

Mayfair,

London,

W1S 1ND

Tel: 020 7629 1555

 

Any restaurant in Pollen Street invites the reviewer to make reference to bees: "sweet staff", "the kitchen a hive of activity" and "food like nectar" and so on.  All of this can be said of 5 Pollen Street, and much more (for which see below) but my particular take on the bee metaphor was to think in terms of the way that bees travel in straight lines (their bee-lines) for up to three miles from their hive in carrying out their summer's work.  Accordingly, as the November weather still felt suitably June-like, I decided to cover the distance from Markham Square to Hannover Square (below which Pollen Street is to be found) on foot in a bee-like straight line so far as possible.  Readers of the Forsyte Saga will recall that Soames Forsyte, the solicitor of the Forsyte dynasty used to walk to his office in the City from Montpelier Square, which would cover much of the same route, though Soames was in the habit of breaking his journey for dinner either in Soho or Mayfair.  Perhaps he dropped in at a predecessor restaurant of 5 Pollen Street. 

Having had such an invigorating cultural walk I was fully prepared for an invigorating lunch, and in that, 5 Pollen Street did not disappoint.  It is a stylish and colourful room.  The tables are set well apart to allow for privacy and the place has the spick and span air of a restaurant newly opened and determined to keep the high standards.  My wife joined me for lunch.  She had submitted herself to the rigours of the Regent Street shops in preference to my more eclectic preparation, but she was equally ready to test the scores in the kitchen.  She chose an artichoke and rocket salad and the crispy leg of duck with marinated white cabbage from the set menu (remarkably good value at £19 for 2 courses and £24 for 3, which is definitely the recommended approach – see below on puddings).  I had the wild mushrooms, quails eggs and toma cheese, which was a very colourful, you might say catholic, starter.  I had not knowingly tried toma cheese before: it is from the Piedmont region.  The combination worked very well, and was especially welcome after my three mile walk.  For the main course I had breaded Milanese veal with rocket and cherry tomato salad.  The batter might have been a bit crisper but the meat was good and the flavour consistent.  We had zucchini and Italian style roast potatoes as side orders and they were absolutely first class in the way that only Italian zucchini and roast potatoes can be.

One of my unending life quests is to find the world's best tiramisu so it was inevitably that I would try that for pudding.  This is like no other tiramisu I have ever tried.  It arrived in an individual style trifle bowl and had lumps of deliciously dark chocolate embedded in it.  It also had the great virtue of being very light so that the overall feeling after having consumed it was one of unalloyed pleasure rather than, as sometimes happens, discomfort at having taken on more than one could chew. 

The wine list is a high class one, particularly in respect of the best Piedmont and Tuscan names.  Sadly, as we were just two and it was just lunch, we could not sample any of the more interesting sounding bottles, but the restaurant has an extremely good list of wines available by the glass which were more than up to the requirements of the day.

The service was extremely attentive and very informative about the provenance of various elements of the menu and the wines.  It was noticeable that of the other tables near us, one was taken by a French group and three others were taken by Italians (or at least they sounded like they were speaking Italian most of the time).  This is always a good sign of the authenticity of the food being served in what purports to be an Italian restaurant

There is a small private room at the back of the restaurant which can seat six.  It is conveniently located right next to the wine racks so would be suitable for anyone intent on a small private celebration.  The restaurant as a whole can seat about 40 so it would suit an office or departmental function if you get your booking in early.  There is an elegant and well stocked bar at the entrance of the room which would make for a good place to mingle before sitting down.  All in all, 5 Pollen Street is a seriously good restaurant which serves refined food in an elegant and tasteful manner.  It's location in Mayfair means that it will be convenient for many intending to have a celebratory meal during the festive season. 

Christopher Rees, Herbert Smith LLP

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