I just want to thank the readers for their excellent suggestions on the eve of last month’s Singapore trip. Without them I wouldn’t have enjoyed what might just have been the greatest dining experience in my life.
I think it’s pretty safe to say combining a converted heritage listed home, in the middle of Singapore’s botanical gardens, with one of Singapore’s finest chefs and a wine list boasting more first growths than James Packer’s wine cellar is a winning combo. I should rephrase that, safe to say implies there might be some shadow of a doubt, and I can assure you there’s none at Corner House Restaurant Singapore .
Chef Jason Tan has created a menu 99% of us could barely begin to get our heads around. Influenced by the gardens that surround it, the menu is innovative and exquisite without being arrogant. Whilst he showcases experimental dishes and techniques, it comes without pretentiousness, there’s a noticeable fresh homeliness to his style. His attention to detail is impeccable, from the ingredients to the presentation, every aspect has been thought of, right down to the plates, handpicked or designed by Jason himself.
The restaurant is located in the former house of G.J. Corner an English born botanist who lived in the Botanical Gardens with his family documenting new plant species . The house has been converted to accommodate the restaurant’s kitchen and dining room, with a cellar and small private area downstairs and open plan seating on the top floor with views out to the gardens. The decor complements the cuisine perfectly, light and contemporary without taking the attention away from the meal.
The wine list is world class. There’s no other way to describe it. Jason’s business partner is a local wine distributor who clearly has some serious connections in Bordeaux. We’re not talking one or two vintages of Le Tour, Mageaux, Petrus and Lafite, we’re talking verticals and magnums, sauternes older than your grandmother – outrageous wines that would have Halliday and Hooke nodding in respect. The sommelier explained to me guests are also allowed to BYO, corkage is criminal but not when you compare it to the type of wines these customers are bringing in. ‘Odds are they customer has purchased it through our owner’s retail stores anyway. Plus if they want another bottle, it’s highly likely we’ve got it in the cellar (at a premium)’ he adds. He’s not wrong either.
We sampled Jason’s eight-course ‘Discovery Experience’ degustation menu which will set you back S$248 per head. It’s certainly an investment into your gastronomy portfolio, but it’s one I’m certain will deliver a positive return. We drank a Jean-Noel Gagnard Chassagne-Montrachet offered by the glass, a gorgeous Chardonnay that opened up exceptionally as it came to room temperature.
Jason’s dishes are delicate, fresh and delicious a style they’ve dubbed Gastro-Botanica. Where possible he has selected the very best ingredients from around the world to complement each course, the Carabinero prawn and Mangalitsa pork being standouts.
The focal point of the meal was Jason’s own interpretation of the Onion, aptly named ‘The Onion Revealed’. Here Jason showcases the versatility of his favourite vegetable creating four courses a rare french onion variety called Cevennes. The process requires upwards of 2kg of Cevennes onions per guest and is delivered in four variations, a Baked Onion Cup, an Onion Tart, an Onion Chip and finally an Onion Tea which Jason infuses with Earl Grey. It is absolutely outstanding, and mind boggling to comprehend how much is required to produce the sweet tea reduction.
As if I wasn’t impressed enough the meal was concluded with a handful of desserts, each nicer than the last. I’m not one to preference sweet over savoury but Jason I was deeply troubled when deciding on my favourite dish of the day.
I think the real indication of a good restaurant is how many people you tell about it. A truly exceptional restaurant will leave that lasting impression on you. It’ll make you want to tell people so when they experience it and tell their friends you will be cited as the person that discovered it. I must have told every person that spoke to me about my Singapore trip about Corner House. I simply cannot stress how important it is for you to enjoy a meal there next time you’re in Singapore.
1 Cluny Road, E J H Corner House
Singapore Botanic Gardens
(Nassim Gate Entrance)
Images shot by myself and Laura McWhinnie from This Island Life. Thanks to Bing and Jason for having us!!!