As the well-established breakfast, brunch and lunch café Pollen moves into night trade, it breaks new ground in expanding the city's small bar and restaurant culture out to the suburbs.
Pollen 185 launches night trade
After more than a year spent establishing Pollen 185’s day trade amid the variable fortunes of their King William Road surrounds, venue owners Jyoti Bindu and Jack Wilkes are pushing into night trade.
You can find Pollen at 4/185 King William Road, Unley. They are open 8am-4pm on Tuesday and Wednesday, 8am-4pm and then 6pm-late on Thursdays and Fridays, from 9am-4pm then 6pm-late on Saturdays and 9am-2pm on Sundays.
With an offering that is distinctly different from the brunch-style food and coffee they serve in the sunny hours, Pollen evenings are all about good food and good drinks to go with it.
The food will remain largely vegan (and sometimes vegetarian) in both time frames, although owner and chef Jyoti says that the venue has never been about pushing a particular lifestyle barrow – more about feeding people in a way that suits her own approach to food and the world.
“Having somewhere like this is the perfect example to show people, instead of screaming at them, how you can eat this way and not really miss out anything,” she says.
“I have lots of people come in without realising it’s veg and vegan and when they leave they really make a point of coming to say thank you and telling me how much they enjoyed it.”
The evening food, however, is more tapas-like in its serving style and is also highly variable, allowing Jyoti to experiment with produce as it becomes available at markets or catches her imagination.
“It allows me to be a bit more creative because I can chop and change it much easier than the day stuff. Because I’ve had so many regulars falling in love with the dishes during the day I can’t change them,” she says.
“It allows me to go to the market and see something like sweet potato leaves and think ‘what can I put on that?’. And because we’re not that busy, I can talk to people and do tastings with customers, which is really fun.”
Jack – her partner and the person in charge of Pollen’s bar – will be making drinks to match Jyoti’s explorations in the kitchen. With a resumé that includes stints at places like Melbourne’s Vue de monde and an establishing role in Adelaide’s Hains & Co, he is keen to use his considerable skills behind Pollen’s bar.
“At the moment we’re doing the simple stuff that is really food friendly for Jyoti’s delicious tapas-y share plates,” says Jack. “So we’re doing a doff of the cap to the original champagne cocktail with some mango sugar cubes, grapefruit essential oils, Prosecco-topped – simple stuff like that before getting too crazy with it.”
“And we’re doing little things like with G&T matches, Jyoti was doing a chilled cucumber soup with fried shallots on top – almost like a gazpacho. That was picking up on that trend of using cucumber with gin and tonic, but doing it a bit differently so it’s sort of a sip and a bite and a sip and a bite. It’s a textural thing as well.”
The one thing that will remain the same between Pollen’s day and night trade is the atmosphere.
The venue has developed a reputation for being casual yet very competent, something Jyoti says has been done deliberately to capture what she believes is the true spirit of hospitality.
“I kind of wanted to do something that actually makes me happy and all of those cliché things,” says Jyoti. “It’s talking to people and engaging with them and that’s why it’s a completely open kitchen – because you can’t get anymore honest than that.
“One of my old taglines was ‘welcome to my living room’ and that’s how I’ve always approached this industry. I wanted to create that kind of place and I didn’t really feel like there was anything in Adelaide quite like it, especially not out here.”
Jyoti and Jack have certainly succeeded in making a place where people can feel at home, and as they expand their hours into the evening it’s a place we’re happy to feel at home in more and more often.