REVIEW: POMONA'S, NOTTING HILL
By Jodi Bartle
As a long time resident (of the cheaper outlying bit) of Notting Hill, I have seen many restaurants come and go.
Pomona’s used to be a gastropub - all dark interiors, cosy, with a nice line in sausages and mash and something to do with oysters. We went a few times, mostly because they had a kid’s crèche so you could quaff red wine while someone else let your kids watch a DVD upstairs.
But a few years ago, Pomona’s moved in with something of a Californian swagger. Gone went the old pub vibe - away-with-you went the cosy little booths and Victorian gin palace feel for a fresh take on Hereford Road dining.
So Pomona’s, named after the Californian city, gutted the place and moved the sunshine in, as much as you can bring it into this oftentimes-greyish London town.
The restaurant-come-bar come-events space is all pale wood, Miami-esque pastels, creams and greys, with vintage mirrors and an outdoor terrace for al fresco eating. You cannot recognise it for the place it once was. As a very keen Antipodean who has been a few times for brunch with the kids, the idea of light-filled eating spaces, full of colourful comfortable banquettes, primary brights and expanses of glass, with a nice line in eggy morning things - well, Pomona’s makes me very pleased indeed.
So to new menu sampling. On Wednesday night, the restaurant hosted a drinks reception and a meal to introduce the culinary triumphs of executive chef Wolfe Conyngham, who was trained at Leith’s Cookery School, later becoming head chef at his family seat at Slane Castle in Ireland, and then opening his eponymous restaurant in Notting Hill a few years ago.
We arrived in the early evening as the light was just beginning to go - the restaurant sparkled with low lit candles reflected in all the glass, looking cosy and decadent inside, especially for two people who had fled their children early on a school night.
The nighttime service has intentionally been given a different feeling to the day - atmospheric and intimate with indirect light so that the photos I took of our drinks were too dark to make out, while the selfies I took made me look like a smooth-skinned youth of about 25. Keep this in mind for date night.
The drinks were excellent. Both my husband and I are partial to a cocktail or three, and we alternated between seasonal margaritas and Moscow mules made with matcha powder, properly tasting of the ingredients they boasted, the margarita doused in a sweet salt rim. We noticed the straws were the paper kind - when mentioning it to the staff we were told that Pomona’s takes sustainability and seasonality very seriously, which is carried through to strictness about suppliers and the full ownership of processes such as the in-house smoking of meats.
We were given tiny, elegant amuse bouche spoonfuls of pork, and at our table a selection of starters, including guacamole, duck, and what I thought was going to be some sort of bean dip but was decidedly fishy - the smoke house presumably doing a very good job for those who like that sort of thing, but as I brought it up to my greedy mouth and got a whiff, I did my usual panicked face because, dear Reader, I am a seafood phobic. No matter - my husband swiftly gobbled it up and said it was great.
The mains were sirloin steak for him, a Welsh lamb rump for me. He is an ex-butcher and so gets very fussy when it comes to meat, but he said it was very good, alongside béarnaise sauce, fries, wild mushrooms and spinach. Mine was a little less good, possibly because the tender lamb had been smoked and I was, at that point, a bit wary of the flavour. Luckily the incredibly lovely staff (the Sydney-sider Australian in particular) kept us supplied with trauma-soothing cocktails, good chat and red wine.
Dessert was split into two - half a chocolate fondant each, half a yoghurt, fruit and crispy granola thing that was just the right side of palate cleansing after all that wine. We talked and shared bites (not the crab, obvs) and drank and got a little squiffy, and wandered home very keen to come back.
Apparently, while the upstairs crèche of the old days has long gone, Pomona’s do a great line in kids’ parties. We will return with the kids in tow, and I will be searching out another one (or three) of the seasonal margaritas.
Between 30 March and 6 April, kids eat free! Choose from a menu including roast chicken breast with broccoli and French fries or polenta chips; fishcake and peas; and cottage pie with sides of garlic bread, sweetcorn, peas and fries or mash.
Desert options are sure to please also - think ice cream, chocolate brownie, fruit salad or a classic banana split. Offer valid on dishes chosen from the kids menu only – one child eats free per dining adult.
Pomona’s Restaurant + Bar | 47 Hereford Rd | London W2 5AH