The award is now in its 13th year and is given to the establishment currently judged to be offering the most outstanding package. Atherton fulfilled his lifelong ambition to open Pollen Street Social in April last year and is already reaping the rewards.
“The London restaurant award season runs from September to December,” he said. “For me, the biggest award to top off the end of the season is the BMW Square Meal Award."
Competition was fierce and the shortlist included big hitters such as The Wolseley, and Le Gavroche, as well as new offerings that demonstrate the diversity of London’s dining scene, with Roganic, Dinner by Heston Blumenthal and Barbecoa all making the shortlist.
But, according to Square Meal, nothing could rival Pollen Street Social over the past year. Editor of the Square Meal website Ben McCormack said: “It’s the kind of venue that begs for return visits, a place you can make friends with – an exuberant class act that celebrates the joyous conviviality of eating out.”
Jason Atherton: A timeline
- 1987: Atherton began his career aged 16 as a commis chef at his local Skegness Country Hotel. Soon after, he moved to London and embarked on stints under chefs including Pierre Koffmann, Marco Pierre White, Oliver Peyton and Gordon Ramsay.
- 1998: He famously became the first British chef to work a stage at the three Michelin-starred el Bulli under the tutelage of Ferran Adrià, for which he initially worked unpaid. “This was a defining point in my career and found myself in one of the world’s most creative and respected kitchens,” said Atherton. “I was so keen to go there that I was quite happy to work for free for the first season, but the experience was priceless.”
- 2005: Atherton launched Maze for Gordon Ramsay - which won a Michelin star and three AA rosettes within a year of opening as well as winning the BMW Square Meal Restaurant of the Year award.
- 2010: In April, Atherton announced he was leaving Maze to open his own restaurant in Mayfair: Pollen Street Social.
- 2011: Pollen Street Social opens and scoops a Michelin star in its first year. Atherton concluded: “I have been dreaming about opening my own restaurant for nearly 20 years and am thrilled to have found this great site in the heart of Mayfair. It’s a place that I love being part of and it’s my chance to create exactly the sort of restaurant I would love to eat, drink and socalise at. Not just somewhere for special occasions, but a place for people to come for all sorts of reasons and can’t wait to return to.”
- 2012: The restaurant picks up Square Meal's Restaurant of The Year 2011 Award.