Jason Atherton, chef-proprietor of Pollen Street Social, which opened in London's Mayfair last April, is to open a second restaurant in Singapore, with former Caprice Holdings and ex-Zuma chef Colin Clague at the helm.
Pollen, situated in the Gardens by the Bay South in Singapore's new downtown, will be run by executive head chef Clague, formerly of Caprice Holdings Middle East and prior to that Zuma London, where he was head chef for six years before moving to Zuma Dubai in 2008.
"It's a huge coup for us to have Colin joining us," Atherton told Caterer and Hotelkeeper. "It takes a lot of pressure off my shoulders. Working alongside someone like Colin, who I really admire as a chef, is incredible. I've been eating his food for eight or nine years and to have him on board is brilliant. We're slowly building a dream team."
The restaurant, next to the new Marina Bay Sands Resort with frontage over the freshwater Marina Bay, is due to launch at the beginning of June. It is Atherton's second restaurant in the city and joins his Esquina tapas bar concept, which launched at the end of last year.
Pollen will be the flagship restaurant in the gardens and the only one located within one of the giant conservatories. The Flower Dome conservatory will have a controlled micro-climate with exotic plants and trees. The theme of the restaurant will be Mediterranean and the aim is for Atherton's team to grow its own herbs and vegetables within the conservatory itself.
The restaurant will seat 120, split over two levels, with a dessert bar in the style of Pollen Street Social. It is being designed by Singaporean-based interior designer Antonio Eraso.
"You're going to be sat inside a real-life working olive grove, surrounded by amalfi lemon trees and lavender plants," Atherton said. "It's going to smell like you're in Provence - there's going to be nothing like it."
Following on from Pollen Street Social, Pollen will also feature a dessert bar. "That's exciting. It's the first time someone in South-east Asia has done that. The South-east Asian people love puddings, it's going to be great to see that in action."
Atherton, who was awarded a Michelin star at Pollen Street Social in October, just six months after the restaurant opened, said: "It was very easy for us to think of a name for the restaurant. It's going to be in an enormous botanical garden, it has a nice connection with its London sister, it works. I don't want the restaurant to be called after me. No restaurant is reliant on me - I'm not building empire Jason Atherton."
Asked why he was opening a third restaurant in South-east Asia, Atherton said: "It's a part of the world that has been very kind to me. I have a strong affiliation with all things South-east Asian - my wife is from that part of the world, my business partner is from there, there are so many talented chefs there. To be part of that scene is beyond belief.
Esquina, which opened in Singapore's Chinatown district in December, is located in a former launderette and is run by former Pollen Street Social executive sous chef Andrew Walsh. Prior to Pollen Street Social, Walsh spent periods with Tom Aikens and Richard Corrigan at Lindsay House. Esquina showcases a menu inspired by the canapés at el Bulli and features a raw seafood bar and a baby Josper grill which is used to serve dishes such as confited lamb chops.
Atherton also has a restaurant in Shanghai, Table No 1 at the Waterhouse at South Bund, which opened in May 2010 and is headed up by Scott Melvin.
By Amanda Afiya
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Published by: The Caterer