When I first received word of Pollen’s new direction, I was a tad confused. What is ‘modern interpretative cuisine’?
It turns out that it’s exactly how it sounds. The new concept by Chef Michael Wilson leaves much to the imagination, thanks to masterful manipulations that takes inspiration from nature.
Asked about it at dinner, Chef Michael confirms this, reiterating that he “leaves it up to you to perceive it”. He does add, however, that the menu does feature Mediterranean influences.
The snacks that arrive quickly bowl us over. The watermelon ravioli are nifty little pouches crafted from the fruit’s leather, and stuffed with smoked cod roe mousse thickened with almond meal. The ‘Cornetto’ is a cone that appears to be filled with chocolate, but is a prune puree that holds a smooth and creamy whipped chicken liver parfait at its tip.
These were enjoyed along with the first of Chef Michael’s temperance tipples. His spin on the Tepache, a Mexican beverage concocted with fermented pineapples, cloves and cinnamon is a lightly carbonated beverage with an acidity that cosies up nicely to the umami-rich seaweed discs, topped with oyster and algae.
What follows is a resounding favourite. A saline, meaty slab of smoked eel surrounded with sea succulents is enclosed with a black ‘fish net’ made from squid ink, that juxtaposes the sourness of the seaweed vinegar – a dream pairing with the mellow sweetness of the cantaloupe melon zero-proof tipple.
Lettuce gazpacho honours the humble vegetable in a viscous soup poured over a heaping of spanner crab, whey granita and cucumber. The light and refreshing notes continue with the beef heart tomato dish that features the fruit from Cameron Highlands with sheep’s curd, lifted with basil and black garlic balsamic.
Finally, we arrive at the mains. A prawn is served with acquerello rice, that has been cooked in prawn jus, coriander and lime. Sliced whole and pressed flat, the prawn blankets the richly-flavoured rice that boasts the char and smokiness of a paella. We have the Filet de bœuf next. It instantly brings to mind a beef wellington; a seared beef fillet is wrapped with truffles, pate, duxelles and spinach and finished with a layer of puff pastry.
By the end of the meal, I ask myself again. What is modern interpretative? I still don’t know. And frankly, for the stellar lineup of dishes we had, I’d gladly leave it that way.
Pollen, 18 Marina Gardens Drive, #01-09 Flower Dome, Singapore 018953