Head Chef Benjamin Tan, a former lecturer at ITE with 15 years of culinary experience at restaurants such as Au Jardin, has recently joined The White Rabbit and produced a new menu.
A quick history of White Rabbit: the name comes from Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland where a white rabbit leads her to a fantasy world through a rabbit hole (which is the name of The White Rabbit restaurant’s bar). White Rabbit is an apt name since the novel was written at about the same time as the building was built. In 1860, the British bought the land at Dempsey to serve as a military camp.The building that houses White Rabbit–check out my previous review on White Rabbit for photos of interior and building–was a military chapel with a history of more than 100 years. More than 70% of the building is preserved, including the mosaic flooring. The other remaining 30%, you ask? Installation of air-con, chairs, tables, a bar counter, wine cellar, etc.
We judge restaurants by the complimentary bread they serve. The evening started with piping hot bread, very comforting, a sign of good things to come.
Laced with brandy and seasoned with tarragon, the lobster bisque arrived with a chunky half Maine lobster. This was the only dish we were ambivalent over. Instead of the usual sweetness, characteristic of bisques, this one was salty and bitter from the brandy and wasn’t quite viscous enough. Huccalily, my dining partner, said that she enjoyed it while I, sensitive to alcohol, opined that this was a dish that drinkers would like.
Topped with shredded parmesan, celery cress, balsamic pearls, and truffle cream, the carpaccio was explosive. You put it in your mouth and will inadvertently close your eyes in bliss and go “Mmm.” I don’t order things that I can cook myself–such a waste of money–so I’d not order carpaccio at a restaurant but White Rabbit’s version is inimitable, irreplaceable. I also don’t like to use the word “best” because the world is huge; there is always better. But truly, this is the best carpaccio we’ve eaten. Must order.
The ravioli in port reduction and parmesan form, which could be served either as an appetizer or a pasta main, came with wild mushrooms. The fungus had a very clean taste with a bite and wasn’t limp. But the star, and rightly so, was the ravioli of a thin, delicate and light skin.
Came with roasted root vegetables and mousseline potatos, the bourguinon was greatly enhanced by crispy bacon which more lardy than bacon-y. Competently done.
If you google images for mangalica pig from Hungary, you’d ask: is it a sheep or a pig? The answer: a pig in sheep’s clothing. The dish was paired with ingredients that are commonly paired with pork: apple, celery root puree, calvados cream. What was unique was really the pork itself. It was tough when we were cutting it but when we delivered to our mouths, we were amazed by how tender it was without being fatty.
With so many ingredients–burnt butter cake, spiced crumble, vanilla ice cream, figs and berries–each mouthful of the poached pear was different because the composition on your spoon would differ. Big enough to be shared by two, it was light, fruity and refreshing. Relatively guilt-free? Highly recommended.
By this time, we were bursting at the seams and I wanted the poached pear because I was sick of souffle. But since Huccalily hinted very strongly she wanted a souffle, we ordered a second dessert… and it was divine. Made from Valrhona opalys white chocolate–do you know Valrhona has white chocolate? I didn’t–the souffle had a puff-like cover but was moist, soft, ethereal within and was smartly paired with triple chocolate ice cream to provide a contrast in flavors. Souffle doesn’t get better than this.
The service was, like the food, very excellent. The wait staff can converse and have a knowledge of what they serve.
Compared to my last trip to White Rabbit a year ago, the restaurant has improved on all areas, a very difficult feat since it was already very good last year. Coming to White Rabbit this time is getting a culinary education because it has food that isn’t readily available elsewhere in Singapore. Quite an experience.
39C Harding Rd Singapore 249541
T: 6473 9965
Close on Monday
Rating: 3.838/5 red queens
PS: Thank you Charissa and Amos for hosting and inviting us.