The in-laws have been over to stay this weekend, and so (as if an excuse is ever needed) we thought the occasion deserving of a ‘treat’ dinner; a splash-out somewhere a little bit special, to kick their holiday off to a good start and an opportunity to try out somewhere we have been wanting to go for a while. And so it was that we spent Saturday evening at The Corner House, a charming little colonial bungalow found nestled within the gorgeous Botanic Gardens, just in from the Nassim Gate entrance.
The location and setting is in itself a draw. Our reservation was at 7.30, and so at around 6.45 we arrived to do a leisurely stroll around the Gardens. It’s a beautiful time of day to be there, with the intense daytime heat dissipated, the sounds of the nocturnal creatures waking up and the light fading as we strolled around the lake and back up into the cool entrance of the bungalow and up the wooden stairs to the dining room, ready for our pre-dinner G&T (or a delicious Earl Grey infused gin martini in my case).
This peaceful contentment continued for the rest of the evening as we enjoyed a really delicious dinner. The dining room is light and airy but cosy, and there were enough people to make for a good atmosphere without it being noisy. The space & menu both take cues from its natural setting, and celebrates the previous resident of the bungalow, a Professor
of Botany and expert in funghi. Drinks mats feature baboons, plants and said funghi, the salt cellar crafted from natural rock. And the food itself is described as ‘Gastro-Botanica’ where equal weight is given on the plate to protein and botanical elements; plants are given a larger role, and garnishing becomes a highlight in its own right with selected herbs, fruits and vines.
There is no a la carte option, but a choice of different tasting menus, the ‘Discovery’ being the largest with 8 courses, a vegetarian Botanic menu, and a couple of others at 4 or 5 courses. We went for the 4 course ‘Gastronomic’ menu, and with the additions of amuse bouche, palate cleanser, petit fours and amazing fresh bread (we couldn’t resist multiple rounds of perfect white baguette and delicious brown walnut and raisin sourdough), we definitely did not leave hungry.
The amuse bouche kicked us off to a great start, the highlight being a crispy fish cracker with tobiko and horseradish cream. Next came what was mutually agreed to be the best course of the whole meal; Carabinero prawn with tomato. The tomatoes were served in a multitude of ways; confit, fresh, foam, sorbet. And the whole dish had the most wonderful intense tomato flavour, with sweetness which complimented the prawn perfectly. With a variety of textures and temperatures, this was an awesome dish.
The next plate was the vegetable centrepiece; white asparagus with aged comte cheese, onion foam, salmon roe (ikura) and scorched orange segments. It was beautifully balanced between creamy and fresh, and so pretty with edible gold leaf.
Next was the main course. 3 of us went for the ‘surf and turf’ with chicken and lobster, served with 3 types of artichoke and a lovely chicken and lobster foam sauce. The chicken was an amazing texture; soft and light. Here came the only slight blip in proceedings, since these were just on the wrong side of tepid, and whilst not supposed to be piping hot (according to chef) definitely needed warming up. The other choice of main dish was New Zealand cod, which I’m assured was absolutely delicious, served with braised cuttlefish and a crustacean sauce and with a beautiful crispy skin.
After a gorgeous palate cleanser of guava sorbet with strawberry, came the dessert. A decadent combination of milk chocolate mousse, dark chocolate crisp shards, pistachio crumb, and earl grey sorbet and yuzu gel. I have a love of dessert wine so washed mine down with an expensive but so worth it glass of Sauternes.
Finally we got to the petit fours, which actually took the prize for the second favourite part of the meal. Incredible caramelised macadamia nuts were coated in dark cocoa powder, and mini macaroons were flavoured with salted egg yolk.
Service was impeccable throughout, the ladies were given a little tin of black sesame financiers as we left, and we were even offered a golf buggy to drop us back at one of the Botanic Garden gates on our way out. After a lovely evening in a gorgeous setting, Corner House comes highly recommended by us, we’ll definitely go back for future ‘treat’-worthy occasions.
Corner House, 1 Cluny Road, Singapore Botanic Gardens, (Nassim Gate Entrance), Singapore