Pollen Cafe: A welcome addition at Australian National Botanic Gardens

Sophia Brady 11 March 2018 7

Salmon Nicoise Salad. Photos: Supplied.

Housed inside the Australian National Botanic Gardens (ANBG), Pollen Café and Restaurant features modern, delicious, healthy food in an atmosphere of relaxed elegance, surrounded by the beauty of the world’s most diverse collection of Australian plants.

Since taking over the old kiosk at ANBG less than a year ago and transforming it into Pollen, owner-operator Tracy Keeley has created the ultimate quiet haven. When inside, you feel worlds away from city life, when in actual fact the CBD is located less than 10 minutes away.

Tracy Keeley. Photo: Peta Rudd.

Pollen @ ANBG. Photo: Supplied.

Tracy said, “I love exploring the potential of a new venue – the way some people must look at an old piece of furniture that needs restoration. Imagining the possibilities for the old kiosk at the Botanic Gardens filled me with excitement – and I do love a challenge! Having transformed other Canberra locations in my hospitality career, I was confident I could inject some new life into this tired space.”

“The idea of operating a café within such a well-known space was very attractive to me as you can incorporate your business into the entire experience of visiting the Gardens. We like to think that at Pollen we have been able to create an impeccably well-designed café that sits harmoniously within the natural backdrop of the gardens and complements anyone’s visit.”

Organic Breakfast. Photo: Supplied.

Tracy did not leave any stone unturned when reinvigorating the space, saying “When I first saw the space where Pollen is now, it felt dark and heavy. All I could think of was how to bring it back into the light! We have changed the whole vibe by bringing in crisp whites and blues alongside modern décor options throughout. When guests walk in now they are met with a beautifully styled café, filled with fresh florals, then their eye is drawn outward to the picturesque grounds surrounding our outdoor eating area.”

“The menu is equally fresh and vibrant, incorporating local products with a specially designed kids menu for all the many families that visit us. The food is modern Australian and something guests would seek out as a culinary destination rather than the tired, old cafeteria style establishment that used to be here.”

“Through all of this, we have realised my goal of uncovering the potential of this fantastic location and turning it into a destination café,” continued Tracy.

It is easy to fall in love with the location at ANBG, with Tracy saying “We are fortunate to operate Pollen in such a tranquil setting – it really is like a little oasis on the outskirts of the city. Surrounded by native flora and fauna, one can’t help but feel relaxed. We are also very grateful to be housed within such a culturally significant location and enjoy the range of visitors who come from all over the world to see these beautiful gardens. Being in Canberra, we also have access to some wonderful local producers whom we rely on to provide us with unique, high-quality ingredients.”

2018 will see a few more changes for Pollen, with a new menu launching in April and the introduction of Garden High Teas, which Tracy says “are every bit as decadent and sophisticated as they sound. High Teas as a concept are so popular right now and we really feel that our beautiful location is the perfect setting for enjoying this treat with friends and family.”

Wagyu Beef Burger. Photo: Supplied.


Pollen is located at the Australian National Botanic Gardens

Opening Hours – Monday – Sunday 9am-4pm

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7 Responses to Pollen Cafe: A welcome addition at Australian National Botanic Gardens
Sofia Majewski Sofia Majewski 12:22 pm 12 Mar 18

Can't wait to visit, Tracy - we'll be there with our friends from Houston, visiting Australia for the first time. Visiting Canberra 20 to 23 March. Love from us xx

Michelle Fortmann Michelle Fortmann 7:51 am 12 Mar 18

We Love Pollen but we were disappointed on Saturday, having taken our overseas visitor, waited in the queue to order lunch and were refused at 2:32pm as the kitchen closed at 2:30 🤔

Ali_b Ali_b 9:56 pm 11 Mar 18

I frequently visit the gardens with my son, and a friends son, and really enjoyed the kids menu. Much to my dismay, when I visited there today, they have taken everything that my son enjoys, off the menu. As a parent with a child with special needs, and a very limited diet, I was sorely disappointed that they no longer do even milkshakes. I was told that I could order a smoothie or juice instead. Both my friend and I have special needs children, and we were really upset at the lack of options. I can tell you that none of the three items on the kids menu (pretty poor form) were suitable for either of our children. Sadly, one more place I can’t go for lunch.

Lynley Clout Lynley Clout 6:30 pm 11 Mar 18

The food is very good, bu they do need to do something about the birdlife at the outside tables. Even under the roofline they fly about and get too close and personal.

Lily Edwards Lily Edwards 6:09 pm 11 Mar 18

Janice Ho this just popped up on my timeline! What a coincidence!

Julie Negline Julie Negline 2:48 pm 11 Mar 18

And they serve the best coffee!

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