Firstly I want to announce some great news from a good friend – Tomas – the main man behind Bold Spirits about his new venture into cocktail events with Strongman’s Tipple.
Like Andy from Elusive Brewing officially named the nicest guy in craft beer – so is Tomas as the nicest guy in craft spirits and you’d do yourself a disservice if you a) don’t pick up a bottle of Bold Spirits from one of the retailers stocking it – Amathus immediately comes to mind and b) if you have an event (anything from small personal gatherings to large corporate events) then he’s here to help and take the stress and worry about the amazing drinks you’ll hope to be serving. He’s only had the events side up and running for 2 weeks but in that fortnight he’s already been commissioned for events for AirBnB and The Design Museum. So you better get in early before his calendar gets booked out.
Now that’s out of the way…
Before dinner I decided to catch check out the newly opened The Distillery gin bar and hotel in Notting Hill. The Distillery has four floors dedicated to gin, with three guest rooms overlooking market street on Portobello Road. The ground floor does indeed have gin barrels suspended from the ceiling and there are dozens of gins on offer from around the world. But that’s where the good news ends.
While the room is well designed, the service leaves much to be desired. I was ushered to a table, we received water then were completely left to our own devices for about 20 minutes. No one came to take a drink order no matter how much eye contact was made. I eventually made the decision to go up to the bar ourselves and ordered a few beers due to the cocktail list being relatively boring and overpriced – basically par for the course in this part of London. Anyway, suffice to say I’ll be heading to pretty much any other pub in the area over this place with too much pretension for my liking.
Like a beacon in the night – the brand new Pomona’s restaurant draws you into the venue to see what’s going on. What’s Pomona’s I hear you ask? It’s a hot new restaurant claiming to do West Coast/ Californian-inspired food all day restaurant. The first thing you notice upon entering is the style is on point. Sundae Design Studio took the brief and ran riot, returning with a stunning colour palate by taking inspiration from David Hockney’s 1970’s Malibu Period. I love it and want those chairs in my house.
I really like the setup. They defiantly achieved their goal to be one of the more funky and modern restaurants in London. It feels very LA-ish. – lots of colour but at the same time nice and simple and scaled back with plants and greenery used liberally. The plants and terracotta pots everywhere make the outside seem like it’s creeping inside in a minimalist way. And did I say I really like the pops of colours with the chairs?! There’s a massive bar area that you can perch on with a cocktail or two and a huge kitchen down the other end of the room.
The American bar at Pomona’s is headed up by Kestutis Stirba formerly Head Bartender at Gordon Ramsey Restaurants, The Sanderson Hotel and The Electric, so I expected a cutting-edge list of West Coast inspired drinks. It did indeed and I happily sucked down one of the best martini’s I’ve had in a very, very long time. Why can’t such a simple drink like this be so hard to get right when I try to make it at home?!?!
Head honcho and Executive Chef Gareth Sanderson recently returned to to London after extensively travelling America’s West Coast, including LA and San Francisco researching dishes for his launch menu at Pomona’s. I was a bit wary at first that the menu would be a whole bunch of box ticking to ensure that there was something for everyone in this picky part of West London. But I hold my hands up and am happy to say that Gareth blew me away with his cooking and way with flavours – serving up some of the best food I’ve eaten in the best part of a year!
Charred squid, black lentils and salsa verde (£8). This dish could have been lacklustre but some big garlicky flavours and the possibility that the lentils were cooked in some of the seawater the squid was pulled from elevated this dish. A great balance of saline, brine, lovely toothsome lentils with a good bite to them. A great start to the meal.
Smoked mackerel rillettes, japaleno-ginger-mint pesto (£8). A very generous portion with 2 big quenelles of the mackerel on toast. Nice and herby and I again have to give a shoutout to the chef for even dreaming that a pesto combination like that might work – let alone on a smokey fish with such a distinctive flavour already! It all stood up to each other. Well played you ballsy bastard.
Sweet potato toast, avocado, coconut labneh, lime and cilantro gremolata (£9). This dish also blew us away. A big, fat slice of sweet potato taking the place of bread that had been cooked perfectly soft. A nice little bit of avocado on top worked well. But it’s the coconut labneh which I’ve never seen done anywhere else. I absolutely love labneh but the coconut element makes such a nice, fresh feel to the dish. It really brightened up what might otherwise be a heavy, carby sweet potato – it really freshened it up. The surprise dish of the night.
After having three starters can sometimes put you on your backside and not really feeling like mains. These dishes felt light and healthy (though they may not have been) and had a nice range of uplifting flavours. These dishes balanced perfectly and there was plenty of space left in the tank to dive into the meat and fish dishes proper.
Ginger Pig hanger steak, charred endive, horseradish gremolata (£19). Compared to the last hanger steak I had at Hanger SW6 in Fulham this was miles better that what they’re serving up there. Everything on this dish was seasoned absolutely perfectly and it was a decent size to boot. If you needed a great steak but the rib eye isn’t your style then this is the perfect dish for you.
King prawns, pineapple, jalepeno (£16). Pineapple three ways got our attention on this one. We didn’t detect any jalapeño so either it’s been dumbed down for these westerners or needed to be much more punchy. A huge creamy king prawn arrived that had been cooked perfectly. Honestly it was as big and as much meat as you’d look to get in half a lobster – maybe even more. It was accompanied by two chunky strips of pineapple, sashimi style pineapple and diced cubes of fish pineapple. Very nice but we should have matched this up with a salad or grain instead of the daikon slaw which we did go for – which was great with the steak but some greens are a better option with the seafood dish. There are four very good looking salads which we will be back to try on our next visit and can be ordered as a starter or a main and you can add chicken, prawns bacon to fill it out more if you wanted it as a main course.
Valrhona chocolate crémeux, olive oil, truffle salt (£7). Super simple but really lovely flavours. Using these ingredients, again it’s all about striking the perfect balance – which this dessert did indeed. The truffle said and the little whiff of olive oil cut through what is really quite a dish for dark chocolate fans.
Service was excellent – especially friendly service from our Aussie waiter who may have just got off the boat. Completely down to earth and happy to give suggestions – very appropriate for this space. So this has been a pretty spot on meal all up. Much needed after the last few reviews we’ve had to do.
I feel there’s going to be a slow build for this place in this area but once word starts getting around I can see this place being full of the yummy mummy kind of crowd filling the tables during the week and those of us not willing to wait 45 minutes for a table at Granger and Co – this will be a safe haven with some great cooking combined with interesting takes own dishes. If anyone wants to catchup in West London, you’ll know where to find me.