I’ll soon put up a review of my whole experience of the tasting menu at Pollen Street Social. The quick version is that it was an amazing culinary experience that introduced me to – or, more precisely, reintroduced me to – a host of flavours and dishes. But that’s for another time. The Chowdown Showdown Londontown reason for being here was the third dish on the tasting menu: the English Breakfast.
“This is as much a game or a magic trick as it is aiming for verisimilitude”
It seems to be part of the ethic of Pollen Street Social that the more simply a dish is labelled, the more complex and unexpected the food itself will be when it appears. With the English Breakfast you’re presented first with a (very cute) egg cup, with nothing in it. Rachael and I joked that this could be The Emperor’s New English Breakfast, and that we should start spooning air into our mouths and remarking on how delicious this truly modernist, truly minimalist, truly deconstructed item is. Next, they bring a tray with straw, and what look like soft-boiled eggs (opened by Little-Endians), with a sprinkling of red on top. But not all was as it seems…
Nestled inside the eggshell were a number of layers, each nodding at an element of a full English. At the bottom was a sour-sweet tomato purée, fresh and aromatic. Then comes a layer of finely chopped earthy mushrooms. Rich, creamy scrambled eggs is next, then a frothy, airy potato foam. Sprinkled on top are tiny crispy shards of bacon.
A testament to the brilliance of this dish is that, despite occupying only the space allowed by an eggshell, every layer was substantial enough to taste, feel, enjoy and identify. Granted, together they weren’t exactly like an English breakfast (and I’m not convinced I know what the potato was representing – please leave your suggestions below!), but this is as much a game or a magic trick as it is aiming for verisimilitude. Every part of it – from look to taste to dramatic presentation and set-up – made this dish, and it was a real joy to consume.
I’ll confess now: this wasn’t my favourite course of the tasting menu. That’s definitely not to take away from it, since the bar was set very high. You’ll have to stay tuned for my review of the other dishes to find out why not!