Thursday, August 16, 2012

Pollen (Singapore)

August 2012

Flower Dome, Gardens by the Bay, 18 Marina Gardens Drive, #01-09, Singapore
Tel: +65 6604 9988

It was National Day in Singapore and we were excited having secured reservations at one of Singapore's newest and most-talked about fine dining restaurants, Pollen. This is the new member of the growing food empire of chef Jason Atherton, a Gordon Ramsay alumni (having run Maze in London previously) and owner-chef of the highly acclaimed one Michelin star Pollen Street Social in London.

Located in Singapore's newest tourist attraction, Gardens at the Bay, it is housed in the Flower Dome, a large greenhouse which is temperature-controlled showcases the plants and flowers of various regions in the world. Quite apt then that the restaurant's name references flora.

Entrance to the Flower Dome costs $20 per person so it was a nice bonus to discover that we didn't have to pay to visit the Flower Dome if we dined at Pollen (it has a separate restaurant entrance to the Flower Dome so there is no need to go through the turnstiles).

The restaurant itself is split over 2 levels, a formal dining room on the ground floor, which is landscaped with plants and gave us the experience of dining in a garden (albeit an indoor airconditioned one) and the bar area on the second floor which has direct access to the Flower Dome.

We decided to pick the lunch set menu which was a three course meal and had some quite interesting looking dishes. Lunch was accompanied by a glass of prosecco. Service was very warm and professional, and we were waited upon attentively. 

Slow-cooked egg, chorizos, patatas bravas: The first dish was a delightful Spanish-inspired dish of cripsy bacon bits and ham, roasted potato chunks and runny egg. When mixed together it was delicious. It was the perfect late morning/early afternoon dish.

Petuna ocean trout, beer-pickled onions, oyster mayonnaise, smoked aubergine: The other starter we picked was the very tender and juicy trout (which somewhat resembled salmon). It looked and tasted like it was cooked sous vide then smoked, such was the appearance of being raw yet not tasting as such.The oyster mayonnaise didn't really taste like oyster that much but the oyster leaf was always a welcome addition (tastes so much like oyster it's amazing. It could be a vegetarian's oyster substitute).

Roasted red snapper, minestrone, coco bean, baby courgette: Our main course was the roaster red snapper which was also very good. The minestrone was made with a seafood bisque which brought richness of flavour to the dish.

Roasted pork belly, broad beans, slow-cooked squid, chorizo: The other main course was the pork belly. Mine was cooked to perfection, and wasn't too fatty. Unfortunately, my wife's serving of pork belly was predominantly fat and didn't have much of the meat. But to the credit of the waiter, he was quick to bring the dish back and have it replaced when we pointed it out. We liked the beans in particular as they added an additional flavour and texture to the pork belly and its sauce, which was excellent by the way. The crispy thing on the top (whatever it was) ended up being more decorative than anything else as we didn't like it very much (a bit to greasy and didn't have much taste).

Coconut mousse, rhubarb broth, goat cheese ice cream: Desserts were a delight here. The goat ice cream was an interesting one, which on its own would be quite repulsive, but in this case, went very well with the sweet and sour broth, strawberries and pink meringue.

Crispy and burnt lemon meringue with cucumber sorbet: Similarly, the cucumber sorbet was weird on its own, but when eaten with the sweet meringue, totally balanced out and transformed the dessert. One issue we had with this dish was that the meringue was not sufficiently baked and was still very soft (had the consistency of melted marshmallows). We were not sure if this was deliberate but we would have preferred it to be more crisp.

Final Thoughts: A stunning location, great service and very good food. We felt that it was a very welcome addition to the Singapore fine dining scene. We look forward to eating here again, this time for dinner, to see if a full evening meal here will live up to the restaurant's potential.

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