At The Pass

Pomona’s Restaurant and Bar, London W2

Whilst chatting one day a friend and I discovered that at about the same time several years ago we used to have respective friends living in London’s Westbourne Grove, Notting Hill. But time moves on and neither of us had been back to our old haunting grounds.

However, on discovering that the very talented, award-winning, young chef Ruth Hansom had been appointed as Head Chef at Pomona’s Restaurant and Bar in Hereford Road we decided to explore once familiar streets and call in for lunch.

As we approached we saw a young man serving what looked like cocktails to two young women who had chosen to sit at one of the street tables in front of the restaurant. Pomona’s looked very promising!

Inside, apart from the friendly, warm, greeting from Front of House Alex, we found a large room featuring a cocktail bar, an open kitchen, plus a conservatory-style lobby all vibrant with colourful chairs – think trendy turquoise, bright yellow, vivid coral red and vibrant green – and lots and lots of plants. It looked dramatic, lively and fun.

Even the corridor to the toilets had been decorated in style with its black and white zebra-like swirls. And full marks to Pomona’s for providing such a well thought out toilet for anybody with mobility problems.

We would have loved to have eaten outside beneath the leafy pergola, but the sky was overcast and we settled instead for an indoor table in the main room fairly close to the cocktail bar and where we could also watch the kitchen in operation.

Service was impeccable – our waiter Alexei providing a skilful blend of warmth and efficiency along with an in-depth knowledge of the dishes on the menu and the ingredients used.

As we so often do when eating together we shared various dishes but not before indulging in a glass of Nyetimber fizz.

A cocktail was a tempting alternative but we also love the fizz that Nyetimber produce in their Sussex vineyard – and we were having a mini celebration.

We apologised for asking if we might share our choices – (sharing means we get to try more dishes), but in fact sharing is very much a feature of Pomona’s menu and is actually encouraged.

Ruth Hansom is also passionate about using British produce wherever possible, and naturally the menu changes frequently depending on what is in season.

Asparagus was still in season at the time of our visit. It was from the Wye Valley and we agreed that with its truffle emulsion and pickled mushrooms it was an out and out treat.

But then so was the delicately spiced cauliflower (I am not a lover of cauliflower, but this was outstanding; an absolute winner as my friend described it.)

An intriguing element of the menu was the smoked potato foam with egg yolk and watercress, not the best dish for a sharing menu though – it was far too wet to divide easily. Nevertheless – interesting.

We really didn’t need knives to cut the meltingly tender and very tasty duck with turnip and plump raisins; and the roast halibut with pickled grapes and almonds flaked itself into perfect mouthfuls with no effort at all on our part.

I spotted that a rhubarb soufflé was on the dessert menu – it was heavenly. Wish I could get my soufflés to hold their rise like that. My friend on the other hand had spotted a Valrhona chocolate dessert with a banana and salted nut caramel topping– ‘richly decadent’ she said.

As we were having a mini-celebration that day we enjoyed a glass of dessert wine with them.

It has to be said that Pomona’s à la carte menu prices where starters cost from £7.50, main dishes ranging from £9 – £26, and desserts from £7.50 could run up quite a bill especially if you include a cocktail and a glass of wine or two – the menu is so tempting.

Incidentally Pomona’s serves food from 9am and apart from à la carte offer a vegetarian menu, an all day brunch menu and a special tasting menu. Next visit we are planning on maybe a cocktail and brunch.

Ruth Hansom was not on duty the day we visited. However, I had been watching the two chefs – sous chef Vaios and demi chef Kuba – working away in the kitchen. As we were about to leave and the lunch time service had died down I went over to thank them. They deserved the thanks it had been a truly delicious lunch.

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