food

Pollen, Gardens by the Bay: “You’ll be left thoroughly impressed.”

Last Updated: February 14, 2021

Written by Basil

My visit to Pollen begins with a buggy ride to the door front. Of course, it is reserved for Pollen guests only. Though I have no qualms against walking, when a perk as exclusive as this presents itself, I’ll hop on to any four-wheeler in a heartbeat. It’s not very quick, but there is ample time to marvel at the beauty of water, flora, and fauna that seems to melt away into the horizon the longer you look.

exterior shot of pollen at flower dome

Credit – Pollen

Stepping into the restaurant only reinforces the notion that this isn’t a casual affair. There’s an arc of foliage and greenery that spans the fringes of the restaurant, gently settling into your line of sight, all whilst playfully illuminated against the backdrop of Singapore’s prized bay view. It does take the breath away, and rightfully so, because this is but one of two dining establishments in the coveted Flower Dome.

interior shot of pollen restaurant

Credit – Pollen

All that visual pizazz does leave me with fervent anticipation for the Chef’s Menu (S$168). This orchestra of dishes comes newly introduced by Chef Michael Wilson, who looks to serve up modern interpretative cuisine plates that provoke the mind and taste buds. Nestle comfortably into your chair and soak it all up, because it’s not every day that one gets to relish in an experience as luxurious as Pollen.

What I tried

plate of watermelon ravioli

Watermelon ravioli

Commencing the meal is a quartet of snacks that are all things pretty and dainty. There’s the Watermelon ravioli which lends a pleasant sweetness to a pistachio-basil filling, and a deceiving Cornetto that comes shatteringly crisp and stuffed with chicken liver parfait. 

plate of amur caviar with oyster cream and algae tuile

Amur caviar

My favourite of the night, however, belongs to the Amur caviar. Salty, creamy bursts of flavour make this one-biter a dream to devour. It’s a perfect jolt to the palate in preparation for a night of heavy indulgence.

bowl of ebro delta smoked eel with squid ink fishnet

Ebro Delta smoked eel

If there’s ever a testament to art on a plate, it would be the beautifully presented Ebro Delta smoked eel. Resting under a delicate cornucopia of squid ink fishnet are three slices of smoked eel fish. I feel almost guilty breaking into its nest—spoon in hand—as if splashing paint on a finished canvas. A pleasing turgidity thoroughly benefits the eel here, with its richness carefully balanced out by a much-appreciated seaweed vinegar. Needless to say, I cleaned out this bowl in record time, hopeful for what else Pollen has in store for me.

bowl of lettuce gazpacho with spanner crab

Lettuce gazpacho

Bursting into the scene is a Lettuce gazpacho that comes bathed in green and empowered by heavy notes of cucumber. Spanner crab sits in the centre, all atop an island of whey granita. Here, an exercise in temperature is readily apparent, making this dish an icy, cold retreat from the heavier tones of accompanying plates. 

plate of beef heart tomato

Beef heart tomato

Showcasing the efforts made in sourcing out only the best produce, a plate of Beef heart tomato hopes to excite in a display of heirloom tomatoes from Cameron Highlands. It’s wholly apt when you consider the lush greenery adorning Pollen’s strategically chosen location. An accompaniment of basil sponge and sheep curd does add a lovely creaminess to the tart salad, though I desperately wish for bolder flavours in an otherwise slightly underwhelming dish. 

Whatever the previous dish falls short of, however, the Scarlet prawn more than makes up for. Draped lovingly across a bed of risotto is a sheet of prawn flesh, all decked out in sexy streaks of red on white. Calling it umami would be an injustice because the onslaught of flavour here is incredibly nuanced. There’s a heavy burst of salt from the rice, verging on excessive. It’s cleverly fought off by the bright, citrusy notes from a mix of lime and coriander, all to create a convulsion of flavour that brands this dish the undisputed climax of the night.

plate of duck neck with foie gras sausage

Duck neck with foie gras sausage

Explicit showmanship accompanies a serving of Duck neck and foie gras sausage. Brought to the table is a portion of roasted duck from the collar up, all presented on a wooden carving board and finished tableside. You won’t find this anywhere else, because the folks at Pollen go on to stuff foie gras into a deboned slice of neck.

The result? A luxuriously fatty cut, reminiscent of sausage. An aged duck breast sits alongside the nape, which comes slathered in jus. This one’s equally delicious, boasting tender, pink flesh beneath crisp skin. I’d be all over this plate, but a twirl of shredded parsnip in the middle begs improvement with scant seasoning.

Pollen 8

Ancient grains

Dessert comes by way of the Ancient grains. Fashionably suited to its moniker, the ceramics used here exude character in all their cracks and crevices. Visuals aside, digging into this is utter fun. Textures here are aplenty, with the crunch from the figs and smoothness of carob waltzing with one another. A dollop of barley ice cream sings with a gentle fragrance, perfuming the entire bowl in an enticing package of sweet indulgence.

Final thoughts

I leave Pollen with my mind invigorated. There’s much to adore in the flavours presented here, which for the most part work well. Yet, there feels to be a shortage of overarching focus to bind the dishes offered. Yes, they are undoubtedly delicious on their own, but perhaps the experience could benefit from a greater emphasis on the direction of cuisine. I reckon you’ll be left thoroughly impressed with the food, and at times, that is already more than enough.

Chope Reservations

Expected Damage: S$168 per pax

Price: $ $ $

Our Rating: 4 / 5

Pollen

18 Marina Gardens Drive, Gardens by the Bay, Flower Dome, #01-09, Singapore 018953

Price
Our Rating 4/5

Pollen

18 Marina Gardens Drive, Gardens by the Bay, Flower Dome, #01-09, Singapore 018953

Telephone: +65 6604 9988
Operating Hours: 12pm - 3pm & 6pm - 10.30pm (Wed to Sun), Closed on Mon & Tue
Telephone: +65 6604 9988

Operating Hours: 12pm - 3pm & 6pm - 10.30pm (Wed to Sun), Closed on Mon & Tue
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