Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Pollen at Gardens by the Bay - Immaculate Cooking

Pollen has a new head chef and his name is Steve Allen. The Briton's resume includes stints with Gordon Ramsay and in person, he looks like a slimmed down version of the famous loud-mouthed celebrity.

Talking to him, however, is a totally different ball game. He's actually quite unassuming, though when engaged on the subject of cooking, he will light up immediately and is rather animated to talk about the stories behind his dishes.

The restaurant is perhaps the crown jewel among the eating establishments in this area, and for good reason. It's fine dining and posh setting warrants a good menu to go along. And with the exception of the desserts, it does not disappoint.

Chef Allen's cuisine is very refined, very precise and very modern. His background hails from Brighton and as such, his strengths are in his seafood courses. But don't let that put you off his other poultry and non-seafood dishes, they still show impeccable skill and technique.

Mushroom Tapioca Cracker

This delicate starter is a gem. That tapioca cracker is bursting with deep fried delight, but it's the combination of the mushroom mousse that will have your tongue dancing with gastronomic mischief. Beautifully seasoned, it is a sign of better things to come.

Red Prawn Tartare and Tomatoes

Displaying the colours of the Italian flag, it shows the philosophy of Italian freshness. The prawns are succulent and sweet, and the combination of basil and tomatoes gives the crustacean an appropriate herbal perfume that lifts the dish up a few notches. Simply faultless in thought and in execution.

Cured Mackerel
My personal favourite dish here. The cured mackerel is perfectly cured and seasoned until the fish has an utterly enjoyable bite and flavour. The saffron brandade and pickled cucumbers provide the ideal accomplices to a dish that's just simply too pretty to eat. Arguably the most beautiful dish of 2016, and probably 2017 as well.


His handling of protein is perfectly encapsulated on this plate. The salmon is properly sous vide and given a light torch to give it some colour. The pink, moist and juicy flesh inside showcases the right texture and moistness for the fish. A gentle sprinkling of ikura and apple pearls give it the necessary acidity to combat the fish fat. This dish is undeniably delicious and refined.


Chef Allen can handle red meat and fowl as well. His pigeon hits on the right marks, the pigeon done two ways. Both pieces are cooked right on the money with great texture and taste. The feta and pickled ginger are again, capable garnishes to complement the main star of the dish.

You will notice I have left out desserts here. Mind you, they are not bad, but compared to the savouries, it clearly shows Pollen needs a full time pastry chef to match the gastronomic prowess of Chef Allen.

Other than that, there is little to fault here and much to enjoy and admire. It may be somewhat out of reach via public transport, but trust me. It is worth making a culinary pilgrimage here to savour the talents of Chef Steve Allen.

He is that good. And probably, one of the top chefs working in a Singapore kitchen today.

18 Marina Gardens Drive

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