Afternoon teas should always be a leisurely affair: sipping tea and nibbling on dainty savouries is the height of relaxation. The only thing that could make it a better experience would be beautiful scenery.
At Pollen, you’ll get to enjoy their collaboration with Hendrick’s Gin within the Flower Dome.
That’s right, your afternoon tea experience just got boozier and better. Not to mention, you’ll be having your cakes and teas surrounded by the beautiful flora in an indoor garden.
Nestled within the curving glass walls of the Flower Dome, the interior of Pollen is airy, spacious and inviting. As I ate, I could breathe in the scent of the surrounding greenery. A fresh breath of air indeed.
All the bites come in dainty servings, all the better to match the surrounding delicate blooms.
In this collaboration with Hendrick’s Gin, the chef has come up with an intriguing concept. Each of the dishes in the afternoon tea contains at least one of the botanicals that can be found in Hendrick’s Gin.
The best part is that for $50, the afternoon tea comes with one of their two gin-and-tea cocktails. Otherwise, you can go for the non-alcoholic set at $38, which comes with tea and coffee.
If you’re a fan of chamomile, you can get the Miles and Miles, which is an oddly soothing cocktail. Essentially, a spiked chamomile tea, the drink is imbued with a clean lemon flavour and the freshness of cucumber. The elderflower liqueur and chamomile added faint notes of floral fragrance to this pseudo-tea.
The Matcha Mint Mello was my preferred beverage of the two. With a strong mint fragrance, it was actually sweeter than I had expected. An interesting combination of Hendrick’s Gin and Matcha Tea actually reduces the herbal flavour of the gin, leaving faint traces sliding down my throat.
Starting off with the Tomato Gazpacho, this cold soup brings a tangy bite and opens up your appetite. Smooth and slightly sweet, I really enjoyed the lightness of the broth.
Mixing the cucumber and grape sorbet into the soup sweetens it further. The refreshing flavour of the cucumber, often found in gin cocktails, also provides a cool counterpoint to the warm weather outside. Trekking through Gardens by the Bay can be hot, tiring work!
The Chamomile, Cucumber, Caraway Sandwich was light and refreshing as well — caraway and chamomile are both botanicals found in Hendrick’s Gin. With a thin slice of cucumber in between multi-grain bread slices, this sandwich marked a good start to the savouries.
The other savouries came as open sandwiches, in bite-sized portions I could just pop in my mouth.
The Braised Duck, Stilton and Chilli Cookie may be small, but it packs a punch. Rich and juicy, the gamey taste of duck was enhanced even further with the creamy texture of the stilton. The chilli cookie base also lifted the flavours with the slight hint of heat and crumbled easily on my tongue.
Another delectable snack is the Braised Beef Cheek In Lemon Pickled Carrot. With a crumbly light base, the lighter taste contrasted with the heavier meaty flavour of the beef cheek. The crumbly base and the soft yet chewy beef cheek come together for a pleasant blend of textures.
After the two bites with heavier flavours, the Smoked Salmon and Taramasalata Tart was a welcome change of taste. Fresh and lingering, the fishy flavour of the salmon helped to offset the smooth and savoury cream cheese. I really enjoyed the contrast in texture between the denser crumbly base, and the soft and smooth salmon pieces.
Finally, the last of the savouries was the Chicken, Coriander and Orange Open Sandwich. This was one of my favourites from the Afternoon Tea. With its light meaty flavour, this sandwich wasn’t too overwhelming on the palate. You’d expect the chicken pieces to fall apart after the first bite, but the ball of meat actually held together very well.
The coriander subtly brightened the slightly sweet crumbly base and complemented the citrus fragrance well. If only the Afternoon Tea set came with more of these!
And now, on to the desserts! Always my favourite part of the meal, I was delighted that almost half of the Afternoon Tea set consists of sweets.
First up was the Elderflower and Strawberry Jelly. To my delight, the light creamy base was white chocolate ganache.
Topped with half a strawberry, this dessert is light on the palate with a floral and fruity fragrance. The subtle elderflower flavour only emerged after a moment or two, while the freshness of the strawberry was evident right from the start.
As a dessert to start off with, this was a good choice. The unsweetened taste will cleanse your palate, to prepare for the following sweeter flavours.
Next, I tried the Carrot and Licorice Cake. Ordinary-looking with a dollop of cream cheese topping the slice, this carrot cake didn’t look like anything special. But the flavours went well together, tied together with the nutty flavour of the walnuts within the cake. Moist on the inside, the lightly sweet cake was a good backdrop for rich cream cheese frosting.
I’m a chocolate lover, so I really enjoyed the Chocolate Sable Tart with Blood Orange Ganache. Another perfect pairing of flavours, the richness of the bittersweet chocolate was offset by the slightly citrus tang of the blood orange ganache.
The dense base also crumbled easily in my mouth. Smooth, sweet and thick; what’s not to love about this chocolate-y dessert?
Light, fragrant and chockful of cream, the Lady Grey Petit Choux is the cream puff of my dreams. With a deliciously strong tea flavour, the cream was smooth, light, and subtly sweet. The unmistakable citrus-y scent of bergamot exploded in my mouth when I bit into the puff. The fluffy exterior and its glazed top just added to the scrumptious experience.
The Afternoon Tea also includes a Citrus Macaron with White Chocolate, with its delicate shell and light sweetness. Biting into the macaron delivered a burst of citrus-tinged sweet chocolate. The citrus flavour helped to undercut what would otherwise be pretty sweet white chocolate.
Finally, I came to the highlight of the Afternoon Tea. In hindsight, it was such a pity that I was stuffed by the time I got to the Dried Apple and Cranberry Scone. I would have polished off the entire scone, crumbs and all.
The fruits weren’t overly dry and actually helped to offset the richness of the scone. Fluffy and warm, the scone crumbled in my mouth as I bit into it.
You’ll want to add a generous dollop of their mixed berry jam that’s made in-house. Made daily with strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, blueberries and red currants, I could really taste the freshness of the jam. You could also try the French crème fraiche, which is a little similar to clotted cream, but lighter and sourer.
If a stroll in the park is your cup of tea, Pollen’s collaboration with Hendrick’s Gin is one afternoon tea you won’t want to miss.
Expected Damage: $38++ – $50++