Anya Montague’s Pollen Room pops up at Perilla for two weeksCultureFood & DrinksRestaurant & bar reviews
When Perilla opened in November 2016, it set out to combine New British fine dining with a relaxed, rustic aesthetic in its new space overlooking Newington Green. Now Anya Montague, the foraging cocktail guru who’s been making waves with her Travelling Bartenders consultancy, has arrived for a two-week bar takeover at the restaurant, and her sophisticated but back-to-nature drinks are a perfect fit for the venue. We popped in before the 2nd May opening for an exclusive taste of her plant-based potions.
A short but carefully edited selection of drinks will be available during Montague’s two-week stint at the North London restaurant, and, unusually for cocktails, most will also be paired with dishes from the menu. Each drink is named for its most prominent ingredient, and a great place to start is with the delicately crafted aperitif Elderflower, designed to be served with seaweed bread and wild garlic butter. St Germain elderflower liqueur and brut cava are added to Lillet Blanc infused (via a sous-vide) with seasonal rhubarb, cherry blossom, pear blossom and rose blossom. Garnished with yet more blossom, this pink beauty is light, fragrant, and refreshing, with the floral notes of the Lillet balanced by a gentle tartness from the rhubarb.
Montague’s herbalist roots and foraging skills really come out to play in the whisky-based Nettle, where earthy Scotch combines with white nettle, cow parsley and thistle cordial. The smoky notes of the whisky dovetail easily with the herbal cordial and a splash of lemon, and the finished product is as cool and bright as a walk in the Scottish countryside. Even more intriguing is the Sea Aster, named for a grass-like coastal succulent with an amazing taste of salty, citrusy coriander. Montague uses it with tequila, puréed pears and Sussex sparkling cider for a fiery but fruity flavour, which isn’t quite like anything you’ve had before. And of course the rubbery Japanese knotweed straw it comes with only heightens the sense of the unusual.
Also on the cards are the Purslane, a martini made with gin and pickled seaweed, and the Dandelion, an Americano-style aperitif with calendula-infused Campari, dandelion leaf tincture, and beeswax-washed vermouth.
If that wasn’t enough to make you want to visit, you’ll also want to check out the gorgeous flower arrangements by Anya Montague’s florist partner, Emily Baylis. Wild flowers and greenery spill from the ceiling and walls to give the effect of stepping into a herbalist’s cottage. Between this setting and the blossoms perching in your drinks, you may feel like you’ve wandered out of North London and onto a windswept patch of the South Downs, and that’s no bad thing in our book.
Photos: Matthew Pull
Pollen Room is at Perilla, 1-3 Green Lanes Mildmay Ward London N16 9BS, from 2nd until 14th May 2017, for further information call 0207 359 0779 or visit here.
Read our interview with Anya Montague here.