I was looking for that special place to celebrate my 28th anniversary with my better half, and decided on Corner House, located at the former premises of Au Jardin, the fine-dining outlet of Le Amis group within the Botanic Gardens that was recently crowned a UNESCO World Heritage property. Corner House’s rapid rise to fame garnered it the 17th position on the list of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants, sponsored by S.Pellegrino & Acqua Panna.
Corner House takes up a stately Black & White bungalow built during the colonial era of early 1900s, and occupies an interesting piece of Singapore’s history – it was home to E J H Corner who is credited with the ‘greening’ of Singapore.
Decor of the restaurant is understated, with warm and rustic tones to allow the natural beauty of the historic premises to speak for itself. Lunch here is lovely too as the view of the gardens is stunning through the glass enclosures.
The kitchen is lorded over by Chef Jason Tan who boasts an illustrious career as stated in the restaurant’s website, “Jason started his career at the famed Les Amis restaurant, progressing through Le Saint Julien Restaurant in Singapore, and the 3-Michelin-starred Robuchon a Galera (later renamed Robuchon au dome), at the Hotel Lisboa in Macau, China. He then re-joined Le Saint Julien prior to Julien Bompard at Ascott Raffles Place, where he served as Chef de Cuisine for 2 years.” Chef Tan’s Gastro-Botanica contemporary cuisine embodies botanicals ranging from tubers, roots and fungi, to vines, fruits and herbs. The degustation dinner that evening turned out to be one of our best meal in recent memory.
The warm and fresh bread with the cone of salted butter was hard to resist; we had to keep reminding ourselves not to overstuff.
The Amuse Bouches was an sign of good things to come. The Mushroom Leaves do taste like mushrooms! The Prawn Crackers with Tobiko Roe was an engaging juxtaposition of textures and flavours, while he Cucumber Terrine cleansed our palate, getting us ready for the main action.
First course was the Carabinero Prawn, with a variation of best seasonal tomato, vintage sherry, Kristal de Chine caviar. Carabinero prawns are large deep-sea prawn species that are prevalent around the Mediterranean Sea, and often coveted by kitchens around the world. The prawns were sweet and succulent, perfect balanced by the burst of savoury flavours from the caviar; with our palates ultimately refreshed by the zesty and fruity tomatoes.
Next up was the Austrian White Asparagus, accompanied by Cévennes onion, 24 months aged Comté, ikura roe, and citrus. This is a prime example of Chef Jason Tan’s skill in elevating vegetables to the haute cuisine level, playfully allowing sauces and condiments to exist in harmony.
I’m not a huge fan of lobster, but the next course of Maine Lobster with Riso, squid, burnt leek, buckwheat and bottarga was heavenly. The lobster was plumb and fresh; the squid blended with the riso pasta, and the entire dish lifted by strands of smoky burnt leeks and crispy buckwheat.
The main course was Japanese A4 Toriyama Beef on a bed of horseradish, macadamia, black radish, shallot, soy caramel. The dish was good but would have preferred more doneness on the beef to reduce the fat, as the meat is really well marbled. Wagyu fans will love this dish.
Pre-dessert came in the form of Pink Guava ice-cream with strawberry.
And finally the dessert of Chocolat “Earl Grey yin zhen”40% Jivara, 70% Guanaja, yuzu, pistachio, kumquat. Light and yummy, and nice touch with the anniversary well wishes.
Petit fours of Salted Egg Yolk Macarons and Macadamia Chocolates proved a satisfying end to a wonderful dinner ,over a steaming cup of long black coffee.
All the dishes were exquisitely plated; the wine list is very extensive – the Marcel Deiss Riesling was well-chilled and its lemony zest was a great companion for the seafood dishes, while the Fontbonau Cotes du Rhone was velvety and full bodied, perfect foil for the fatty beef.
Corner House deserves all the accolades it has been getting, and fully earned its place on the list of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants. Kudos to Chef Jason Tan, a talent to watch. Corner House is indeed a great place to celebrate a very special day with my better half; there’s even a buggy to send you out in case you are too lazy to take that lovely stroll through the beautiful landscape of the Botanic Gardens.
1 Cluny Road, Singapore Botanic Gardens
E J H Corner House, (Nassim Gate Entrance)
Phone: +65 64691000