When news of the opening of POLLEN broke, it caused quite a stir in the food blogosphere.
Helmed by the very man who led the culinary direction for Esquina, POLLEN is Michelin star Chef Jason Atherton’s second venture in Singapore. Aside from serving mainly Mediterranean-inspired modern European cuisine, POLLEN will also be serving great classics from Atherton’s flagship restaurant in London, Pollen Street Social.
Well, I for one certainly couldn’t wait to go try out POLLEN for two reasons; for the food, of course and next to check out the distinctive setting that POLLEN is located inside the Flower Dome at Gardens by the Bay.
One week prior to the official opening of POLLEN, I tried calling but couldn’t get through to the main line. Enlisted the concierge services from the good people over at Amex and they helped score us dinner reservations for Friday the 13. No pun intended on my part, it was a date that suited most of the gang anyway.
We arrived a little early so a round of cocktails were in order.
Inspired by the lush flora and fauna at the Gardens, the cocktails had fancy floral names. I went for a pineapple based cocktail which didn’t quite tickle my buds. The friend’s cocktail looked like a far better choice, loved the passion-fruit topping that went with the iced concoction.
Once the entire gang arrived, we were shown to our table. The restaurant seats approximately 140 pax but it doesn’t look that big on first sight. We were excluded from the main action for our table was right next to the door which I didn’t quite like but doubt that they would change it for us seeing that we had a big group.
I had wanted to go for the Dinner Tasting Menu (S$150) but after our server explained the dishes under the menu, the group didn’t think it was that fantastic. So we ended up ordering a variety of starters, mains and desserts to be shared. Communal dining sure is fun for you get to try a little of everything without over-eating.
For the starters, our table had:
Slow-cooked egg, chorizo, patatas bravas
Crispy baby squid, piperade puree, roasted lime
Deer tartare, pickled beetroot, seeds, grains, broken egg sauce
The above three starters that we had were all very good. The crowd favourite was the crispy baby squid of which we had two servings. Yes, it was that good. Friend also ordered the salad of buttered lobster, pasta, seaweed and maple dressing but serving size was small for the entire table, so I gave trying that dish a miss. Apparently, it was nothing too big a deal that I had miss.
On to the mains then, we had:
Cote de boeuf (1kg for sharing), duck fat chips, green salad
Can I just say that the duck fat chips were A-MAZING? They reminded me fondly of the triple-cooked chips that we had at Dinner by Heston. It was hard to stop at just a chip seeing that the serving portion of the chips weren’t that big either.
Rangers Valley 300-day rib-eye, oxtail, charred eggplant, smoked potatoes (pictured in the background)
Roasted pork belly, broad beans, slow-cooked squid, chorizo
We also had the Marinated lamb cutlets, artichokes, asparagus, prickly ash which I thought was pretty good. The roasted pork belly was soft and tender which meant it was sinfully good and bad for the waistline. The Cote de boeuf was passable and not significantly memorable for we felt that the Tomahawk steak over at Bedrock was way better.
And did I mention just how great it is to dine in a big group for there will always be room for dessert! Not just one but three different kinds of dessert to cater to the different palates.
Bitter chocolate banana, white sesame ice cream, caramel nitro
Crispy and burnt lemon meringue with cucumber sorbet
“PB&J” – Peanut butter and cherry yuzu sorbet
My favourite was the PB&J. The thin wafer crisp actually tasted like peanut butter and it went extremely well with the cherry sorbet that had a light hint of yuzu notes. The deconstructed crispy and burnt lemon meringue wasn’t all too bad either except for the cucumber sorbet which I didn’t really enjoy.
Now for the question as to whether we will come back? Well, we ain’t too sure. They are still experiencing some teething problems when it comes to service. It just ain’t up to par with the dining experience that POLLEN promise to deliver to the customers yet. While we were there, the server nearly broke our bottle of sparkling water. Thank goodness, the Man was quick enough to grab the bottle before it went crashing down.
But the novelty of dining in the Flower Dome at the Gardens by the Bay sure is alluring. So we probably will give it a couple of months for them to sort out their house-keeping and then make another visit to POLLEN.
Address: 18 Marina Gardens Drive #01-09, Singapore 018953 Telephone: +65 6604 9988 Opening hours (Monday to Sunday): Lunch 12pm to 2.30pm / Dinner 6pm to 1opm Note: There is a personalised buggy service from the arrival plaza to the restaurant exclusively for POLLEN’s guests. This service runs every five minutes during lunch and dinner hours.