Pomona’s in Notting Hill: A meal that feels like a day at the beach
Pomona’s, which opened in Notting Hill last year, holds particular appeal in the summer. With its promise of a “piece of Southern California”, it offers the West Coast which Londoners like to dream about: beachy, relaxed, full of avocados and sweet potatoes, spacey lounge music, carefree vines and happy-looking palm-trees. Outside, there’s a garden and a sprawling deck where you can lounge, daydreaming and sipping cocktails — white chocolate daiquiris perhaps, or pineapple fizz. An extensive brunch menu (chilaquiles rojos anyone?) and the friendly staff warn us, earnestly, that it’s best to book in advance. Inside, there are bold pops of Hockney Malibu pastels — terra cotta, bright yellow, mint green, turquoise, teal. Even when Pomona’s is full, the combination of white pillars, creamy tables, and vast conservatory windows make it full of light. There’s an all-day menu and more on offer for non-drinkers than we’re used to: a “caffeine and kicks” as well as a “pressed and blended” list; Party Chard draws a wry smile, and of the Wild Fizz Kombuchas Lavender Fields looks intriguing.
As our friendly and attentive waiter suggested we went for a greedy array of small plates first. The Tuna Poke Bowl was a highlight: delicious morsels of tuna, gleaming like dark red jewels in a deep black bowl and strewn with vivid shreds of scallions and black-and-white sesame seeds. We also had Smoked Mackerel Rillettes, somewhat unrefined in appearance and taste, but also fresh — it fell apart in our mouths and tasted like a day at the beach.
The Shredded Baby Artichokes with spenwood were pleasant, but not exceptional, though the hazelnuts made a toothsome addition. The Sweet Potato Toast with avocado (certainly a hit with the blogosphere) was served with a tart slick of coconut labneh — we scraped the plate clean.
Californians tend to be snobs about tacos so we had high hopes for the monkfish ones, but they collapsed after a few minutes on the table. Where elsewhere the presentation at Ponoma’s feels thought-through and tranquil, the black-corn tacos could barely be seen against the black plates and the monkfish itself tasted pre-cooked.
Next, though already fairly full, we had a Softshell Crab and Bacon Burger (a pleasing combination, and a rare contrast which merited the brioche bun). The Ginger Pig hanger steak though was disappointing. Rare, rather than medium-rare as requested, it was also over-seasoned and tasted mainly of parsley and lemon. The Californian pinot noir though – at eight pounds a glass – was rich in berries and silky. For white, the grüner veltliner which we drank with the small plates was a pleasant accompaniment.
Although stuffed to bursting, we were tempted by the Caramelized Croissant and Prune Pie with Crème Anglaise, imagining a sticky joy of pudding, oozing with brown butter and burnt sugar. What arrived at our table was a thick slab croissant, soaked in extra butter, griddled, and drowned in a milky crème anglaise. The prunes — there were three — balanced, precariously, on top. Similarly, the Valrhona Chocolate Cremeux, which we chose from the evening menu, was a confused affair — though pleasingly shiny, the purple flowers seemed an after thought and it tasted more like Nutella (not as good of course) than either olive oil or truffle salt, as the menu had suggested.
As the beaming waitress cleared our plates (they give you your space, and we ate leisurely, feeling as if we had all the time in the world) our thanks were heartfelt — the food here is a little on the expensive side for what it is, but it’s also fun, fresh, and the leisureliness of the whole thing makes a meal at Pomona’s feel like a day at the beach.
★★★★★Food ▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮Drinks ▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮Service ▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮
Photos: Filippo L’Astorina
To book a table at Pomona’s, 47 Hereford Rd London W2 5AH, call 020 7229 1503 or visit their website here.