It doesn’t happen very often that restaurants exceed expectations but Chef Ruth Hansom’s cooking does exactly that. Pomona’s is a light airy converted pub just off Westbourne Grove and is one those places that stay open all day. People drop in for morning coffee, brunch, lunch or just for a drink, yet it’s the dinner that blows me away.
It’s a night of torrential rain but inside all is warm and homely. There’s lots of space here and there’s the open kitchen at one end and a well-stocked bar along one wall. Colours are muted, the music is soft enough to be able to talk and service is efficient yet unobtrusive. There’s an a la carte menu but we opt for the sharing tasting menu (£55) with matching wine flight (£50) The aperitif is a sparkling Forty Hall Brut 2016 from Enfield of all places, and very good too, all in line with sourcing locally.
The Amuse Bouche is a dish of Dorset crab meat with radish and orange, and some beetroot tapioca crackers, a sign of things to come. Next the sharing starters, honey and truffle gougères, a sort of sweet bun, cheesy inside. The tapioca crackers reappear topped with pieces of raw wild salmon with cucumber and avocado puree. Everything is immaculately presented and well balanced and there’s even sourdough with marmite butter. Wine is Grillo “RegieterreMusita”, 2017 from Sicily.
Now a trio of dishes all at once. Slices of soy-marinated tuna loin come with avocado, charred cucumber and trout roe topped with seaweed crisp. Small dice of veal tartar with pickled fennel, garden herbs, sourdough crisp, carrot discs, tiny mushrooms and egg yolk is excellent. Best of all is the smoked potato foam, also with a yolk, topped with summer truffle crispy slices, and watercress. Tiny croutons give it a crunch and it’s a confident mix of flavours.
We’re now realising that this meal is one of the best in a long time, so settle in to enjoy. We’re not disappointed with the next duo – first a perfectly roasted piece of halibut on slices of Jerusalem artichoke swimming in a green fennel broth topped with almonds and pickled grape slices. Second, nicely pink slices of Udale salt-cured duck breast with turnips large and small, Jasmin raisins and apricot puree. Wine is Wairau River, Reserve Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough New Zealand 2018.
Now vegetables don’t normally feature on tasting menus so we’re nicely surprised to get a huge dish of sprouting broccoli dressed with soy sauce, chilli slices and cashew nuts. Like everything else, no flavour overwhelms but rather complements – even the chilli seems slightly muted. Wine is Pinot Noir, David Bruce, Sonoma County, 2015.
Finally, dessert arrives as a pair – there’s a Valrhona chocolate marquise with banana slices, salted caramel and hazelnut and an apple terrine with cinnamon and white chocolate cremeux, both exquisitely presented and delivering the obligatory sweetness at the end of the meal. Wine is Tokaji 5 Puttonyos, Chateau Pajzos, 2013.
Normally what’s labelled as Modern British Cooking is a catch-all amalgam of dishes from elsewhere, adequate but not particularly exciting. Here the presentation and execution have both been spot-on and the mix of flavours has been subtle yet sophisticated. We can’t leave without visiting Chef Ruth Hansom in her kitchen and complimenting her on the meal. She’s just had her 24th birthday and obviously has a very bright future.
Tell Me More About Pomona’s
47 Hereford Rd, London.W2 5AH
T: 020 7229 1503