It's not easy filling a void, especially the one left behind by Les Amis Group's French fine-dining restaurant Au Jardin. Now occupying the same black-and-white bungalow at the Singapore Botanic Gardens, new restaurant Corner House proves to be more than adequate with their top notch service and brilliant creations.
Co-owned by Chef Jason Tan (formerly Sky On 57’s Executive Chef) and Wine Culture’s Renny Heng, the establishment serves up an imaginative “gastro-botanica” cuisine that focuses on using sustainably-sourced seasonal produce, vegetables and herbs. A style that goes in tandem with the restaurant's setting, and also paying homage to EJH Corner House’s original resident—late botanist and mycologist Edred John Henry Corner.
The Spanish Carabineros Prawns (available on the 8-course $248 Discovery and set dinner menus, $98 and $148) paired with seasonal tomatoes is a clear and masterful display of this culinary form.
What stood out was the varied presentation of tomatoes: adorable tiny Tomberries; marinated Sunsugar cherry tomatoes from Japan, one with plum and another with Thai basil for that "Asian heritage touch"; and a light sorbet of capsicum and tomato.
Delicious and innovative is Chef Jason's interpretation of Kaya Toast (a dessert on the set dinner menu) that I'll leave you to discover yourself, and a most delightful Degustation of Onions (available on the Discovery menu). We recommend to start with the luscious onion confit with egg and truffle, crisp onion tarts with picked onions, then the onion chips. And end off with an aromatic, comforting onion broth with tea.
Highlights of the menu and worthy of repeat visits are the Free Range Chicken—succulent, sous-vide chicken breast juxtaposed with compressed thigh chunks, in a 'Surf & Turf' sauce made using foie gras—and the flavoursome Hungarian Mangalitsa Pork (both available on Discovery and set dinner menus).
I preferred the Discovery menu's presentation of the pork over the set dinner's (momo peach, apple gel, ginger and endives). The accompaniment of heirloom beetroot variations and robust black garlic confit lent different nuances; the former accentuating spices in the skin and the latter brings out a subtle sweetness.
We visited the establishment twice and while all dishes were hits, desserts seemed to be their weakest link. The Chocolat 'tart' (set dinner) was slightly too sweet for my liking though I enjoyed the hint of Malabar black pepper, and the adorable but slightly gimmicky Cocoa 'Pebbles' (Discovery menu) lacked punch.
On the contrary, I enjoyed the delicately balanced Pre-dessert with a good touch of spiciness from the chili caviar, and the Petit Fours—especially the rosemary-infused madeleines and unique Liu Sha Bao macaroons.
Corner House is currently only open for dinner service from 6.30pm to 11pm, and will begin serving lunch starting 19 August 2014. Sunday brunch will be served starting 10 August.
Corner House E J H Corner House, Singapore Botanic Gardens (Nassim Gate) 1 Cluny Road, Singapore 259569
Tel: +65 64691000
Operating hours: Closed on Mondays until 31 August 2014