Pollen Street Social lives in a Georgian house on Pollen Street, Mayfair, a narrow curve between Hanover Street and Maddox Street. Vogue House, HQ of Condé Nast magazines, is nearby, and Pollen Street is very like it: almost nothing can get in or out. The Tatler in-house dachshund Alan TBH Plumptre tried leaving Vogue in 2013, and was murdered by the revolving doors. Did he want better — or fewer — things? We will never know.
Pollen Street Social is a ‘modern urban meeting point’ according to the babble on the website, which is ever more deranged, and makes me think: as opposed to what? It is the flagship restaurant of Jason Atherton, who was named best restaurateur at the GQ Food and Drink Awards last year. Condé Nast again; hacks praise what they can reach. When Evening Standard writers were allowed to drink like men, the Churchill Arms on Kensington Church Street was serial pub of the year. Atherton is a Vogue House man from shoe to shining shoe. He is at least one third wristwatch. He poses in a tuxedo on his website and pouts at salad. What has it done to him? Is it his nemesis?
From the outside it looks like a shop selling Social by Jason Atherton tableware (exclusive to John Lewis). Pollen Street Social is written on the window but the ‘a’ in Social tumbles downwards, like an advertising executive falling out of a window. It is suicidal; this ‘a’ knows that it is over. Is it a social democratic ‘a’? Or a clue that Atherton knows this is all a hoax and anything this expensive — we spent almost £300 and made barely a dent in the wine list — has very little to do with sociability, and much more to do with showing off?