Jason Atherton’s London

The Sheffield-born chef opened his Mayfair flagship, Pollen Street Social, in 2011 and now runs 16 restaurants worldwide. His latest, Sosharu, launched in London last month

Image: Jude Edginton

Most Saturdays my wife Irha and I are woken early by our kids – Keziah [10] and Jemimah [four]. We always have breakfast out near where we live in Balham, south London – normally at Milk. It’s one of those cool, hipster-type breakfast-brunch places that always has a huge queue. I’ll have a full English in a muffin with a spicy ketchup they call hangover sauce. The coffee’s great too. We’ll get one to take away, then wander around Balham Farmers’ Market before heading into town.

We often end up in Selfridges, hands down the world’s best department store. I can’t leave without making sure there’s not a single cookbook I don’t own. For lunch we might head to Barrafina, usually the new one in Covent Garden because it’s bright and airy. I love the lamb’s kidneys, cooked at your table on a little barbecue, and, when in season, the truffle fried eggs.

After lunch we’ll go to the theatre. We’ve been to most of the West End shows, from Miss Saigon to Jersey Boys, which we’ve seen four times. It has to be something upbeat or I fall asleep. Then Irha and I like to stroll along Mount Street. I might buy a couple of things from Ralph Lauren’s RRL, which sells high-end, vintage-style Wild West gear; it sounds a little crazy but it does great jeans and jumpers and I’ve bought some really funky shirts there too. Round the corner is my favourite tailor, Thom Sweeney. If I’ve had a good week at work I might treat myself to a jacket or a pair of trousers.

For dinner, Scott’s is probably the family favourite; Irha and I have a nice simple piece of fish with some spinach and a glass of wine and the kids love the goujons with tartare sauce and chips. If we’ve left the girls at home, we’ll go somewhere like Alan Yau’s Park Chinois; there’s always a band playing and the food and ambience are fantastic. The over-the-top interiors make you feel a bit like James Bond.


Often Ihra and I will then cosy down and watch a movie, but sometimes we’ll go out on the town. We’re big fans of the Chiltern Firehouse bar. You might find me asleep in a corner there. Once I’ve had three or four drinks, I’m done – it’s the life of a chef. Another cool place is Happiness Forgets in Hoxton, which has good music, a lively atmosphere and great cocktails.

On Sundays we’ll try to have a lie-in and then I’ll cook breakfast. It’s the same every time: really beautiful bacon – dry cured, sometimes smoked, sometimes not – with sourdough pan-fried in butter, brown sauce and a big pot of tea. Then we might drive out of London, maybe to Marlow in Buckinghamshire, where we’ll sit by the river, feed the ducks and spend some time talking as a family. Lunch will be at Tom Kerridge’s pub, The Hand and Flowers; Tom’s a great friend, so we always get well looked after. If we’re feeling lazy, we’ll go to Clapham Common instead so the kids can run around and burn off some energy. The Dairy is a great local lunch spot. The food is really inventive but simple at the same time. The beef tartare with onion and oyster is delicious. I’d recommend the smoked pork cheek too.

Or we’ll just stay at home and I’ll cook. We’ve got a couple of great butchers nearby – Chadwick’s in Balham and M Moen & Sons [pictured] in Clapham – where I’ll buy beef. I might braise some short ribs or take a shoulder and slowly roast it with chunky vegetables. I’ll make traditional gravy and horseradish sauce, plus giant Yorkshire puddings. Then we’ll sit down with a glass of red wine and play some games. We recently got sent one created by Daniel Humm’s New York restaurant Eleven Madison Park – it’s like Trivial Pursuit for foodies and lots of fun.

The only thing we ever do on Sunday evenings is go to the cinema or get a takeaway from The Paddyfield, a great Vietnamese restaurant nearby. This time is all about winding down.


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