In terms of location, the difference between Pollen Street Social and Pollen in Singapore could not be bigger. One is in a tiny alley in central London, whilst the latter is a vast, light space in one of the most outlandish gardens of Singapore. If you don’t care for the gardens (which are worth a visit), Pollen has its own buggy, which will pick you up at the Gardens’ entrance and drive you straight to the restaurant’s door.
Once you enter the dining room, the first thing that strikes you is the airy, calm and bright design. The atmosphere is more relaxed and easy-going than that in London and the team here is friendly and warm. Around you, the guests are a nice mix of expats, locals, families, couples and businessmen. This is a restaurant that attracts a highly varied group of people, which translates into a casual and inviting dining experience.
Pollen at the Flower Dome serves food that is more or less comparable to the other Pollen restaurant. The products here are perhaps marginally better, but most of Atherton’s restaurants don’t have the same ambition of sourcing the very finest produce. The focus here seems to be on simple and enjoyable dishes that are big on flavour.
In those terms, Pollen does deliver. The perfect example is a scallop, sea urchin and radish starter. The scallops from Hokkaido have that peculiar texture, which is somewhat less firm than those from Europe and are very well paired with the braised radish. The sea urchin gets somewhat lost, as it is only present in homeopathic quantities, but as a whole this is a dish that delivers refreshing flavours and is the perfect start for any menu here.
Equally good is a tartar of smoked venison with beetroot. The venison is topped with various preparations of beetroot and comes covered with a vast glass cloche. Once the latter is lifted, sweet smoke evaporates and fills the room with that addictive smell. Combined with the richness of the meat and earthiness of the beets, this is the perfect autumnal starter.
The strongest part of a meal at Pollen are the desserts. Frozen honeycomb served with goat’s cheese ice cream is unexpectedly good. As a matter of fact this is a dessert that combines the very characteristic taste of the cheese with the waxyness of the honeycomb. By freezing the latter, the sweetness of it is slightly muted, providing a counterpoint to the ice cream.
Pollen at the Flower Dome is a restaurant that is easily approachable, serving playful and fun food. Given the relaxed atmosphere, it is a great place to spend a Sunday afternoon.