If you’ve ever wondered what a rainbow might look like inside a restaurant, head over to Pomona’s. This Notting Hill restaurant is dishing out the happy pills with its vibrant colour pops of turquoise, coral, red and zesty lemon set amongst leafy greens. And it’s not just the sunny decor that lifts the spirits. The menu here is a delight – a heady mix of intense, vibrant ingredients from the earth, land and sea packing a culinary punch.
Pomona’s is tucked behind Westbourne Grove, one of London’s main yummy mummy outposts. It’s no surprise then to see a mixed crowd of Vogue cover-worthy mums and babes, with a bank of designer prams in tow. The young patrons are thankfully well-behaved, as are the grinning pooches (dogs are most definitely welcome). Yes, there is definitely the whiff of the Westbourne Grove set in here.
Ruth Hansom is the top dog in the Pomona’s kitchen. This Yorkshire-born head chef spent five years at the Ritz London before taking over the Wernher restaurant in Luton Hoo. She’s been head chef at Pomona’s since April, and I think Notting Hill is lucky to have her and her chef’s apron in the kitchen.
I love eating out, but my diet is chef’s hell: gluten and dairy-free with a host of other no-nos. We both decide to order from the All Day Menu. We are encouraged to order two dishes each with a couple of sides. The staff are knowledgeable about all the ingredients and wherever possible, try to accommodate a tweak here and a tweak there. Other options for non-fusspots include two sharing menus (one if vegetarian) at £55 a person.
As Clarissa is a nutritionist and keeps a beady eye on my alcohol consumption, I decide to be a good girl and kick off with a Mint Press – it’s fresh and zesty with a hint of elderflower. Clarissa opts for a Virgin Mary, spiced up with Pomona’s Mad Mary Mix and slurps her way through it in seconds. You’ll be pleased to know she doesn’t lose the plot, (or her head) over the peppery libation. You could opt for one of their super smoothies (a chia fix or an express kale) or a signature cocktail. I’ll be back to try a Strawberry Fields sans Clarissa: tequila, Whispering Angel rose and home made strawberry syrup and citrus. The wine list is reasonably priced, although I do also notice a Margaux on the menu at an eye-watering £365.
I really really want to try the smoked potato foam with yolk, watercress and summer truffle and the Dorset crab with watermelon. But there’s a trace of dairy in both dishes and as some elements are pre-made, it’s a no for me. I am, however, informed that the kitchen only uses Clarence Court eggs, which I guess is a good thing.
We decide to kick off with a chicory salad instead, with charred nectarine, fennel, walnut and honey. It’s sweet, salty and bitter, and if you left this dish until last, chances are you wouldn’t need a dessert. Except that the dessert in Pomona’s is the stuff of pudding dreams (more on that later).
The star of the next dish is the Wye Valley Asparagus, laced with a truffle emulsion. Pickled mushrooms and a sprinkling of pea shoots complete this dish which tastes of spring in the forest. Every mouthful is extraordinarily intense.
Oh, halibut my halibut. I could eat this dish every day. The fish is perfectly roasted and sublimely moreish, with added Jerusalem artichokes, pickled grapes (yes, it really works!), almond and chervil. If you eat dairy, it also comes with a fennel broth. Clarissa tucks into a herbaceous dish of sprouting broccoli with soy, chili and cashew, describing it as intense with a good bite. She pairs the dish with a crunchy side summer salad and we share some sweet potato fries – perfect with just a hint of salty crunch.
Let’s discuss Le Pudding. I would come back time and time again just for this dish. The strawberries are drunk on champagne and hang out with gooey meringue clouds dotted here and there, as well as a delicate lime sorbet and a dusting of fresh mint. And as we couldn’t have the white chocolate, we were offered a side scoop of flower-fairy worthy elderflower sorbet.
OK, Pomona’s may not be cheap, but I daresay it’s well priced. Having said that, a cheaper lunch option might open the doors to a bit more lunchtime trade. With food this good, this Notting Hill restaurant ought to be full every day. Pomona’s offers quality British flavours in every forkful, cheery service and a zingy space in which to sit for a couple of lazy lunchtime hours. I leave happy as a pig in pooh.
I was a guest of Pomona’s. All views and images are my own.
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