Photo credit: Corner House Facebook
Corner House took over Au Jardin, and as the black-and-white colonial building is conserved, the decor didn’t change much. Chef Jason Tan, whose experience included Sky at 57, presents an innovative and savory modern French cuisine. 3-course lunch starts from $38, but we went for dinner: 4-course ($98), 6-course ($148), and degustation ($248). The dinner crescendoed from the amuse-bouche to a stunning post-dessert dessert, making this meal memorable for 11 of the RERG team. Yes, we do our team bonding by feasting.
Choose 1 appetizer from 3 choices: While the beetroot collection (smoked eel, 24-month comte cheese, horseradish, walnut, and black garlic) and French royale oyster (that came in bits, not a complete whole, with Jeresalem artichoke, marcerated grape, tobiko) were just ok, it might be worthwhile to pay a supplement +$18 for the Carabinero prawn that went exceedingly well with the sweetest tomatoes and vintage sherry. The tomatoes amazed me.
Although the appetizers were less than impressive, the starters (pick 1 from 3 choices) got the party started. None of us picked maine lobster because there was a supplement of +$18. Seriously, why all the choices got supplement one?
The 48-hour sous vide foie gras was not your usual pan-seared version; while it lost that crispy exterior of searing, it made up for its buttery texture and wondrous pairing with ginger flower and black sesame wafer, giving it a Thai-Japanese twist.
But the 62-degree farm egg with its deepfried onion had a sweet and creamy umami-ness that might be slightly more delicious than the foie gras. Would you choose the more expensive dish or the more delicious one? Think Corner House should throw some truffle into the egg?
There are 4 choices for mains, and none picked the free range chicken. Perhaps we all wanted a special meat. The tenderness of New Zealand Cod in smoked vin jaune sabayon contrasted beautifully with the super crispy scales, crispier than crisps. When you bite, you can hear the crunch.
But, like the appetizers, it may be better to pay the supplement. The Japanese A5 Omi Beef (supplement +$45) was so sweet and tender without an oleaginous surfeit. If I could marry it, I would say “I moo.” Whenever I see mangalica pork (supplement +$15) on a menu, I’d order it, because, come on, wooly pigs are adorable! And this one was perfect, the best I had, so juicy and sweet: it was accompanied with peach, wasonbon, ginger, endives, apple gel, and natural jus. Sounded complicated but everything mashed beautifully together.
Out of the 3 desserts, no one went for the cheese (supplement +$12) because Asians don’t get cheese for desserts! At least my friends and I don’t. Both the Valrhona 64% chocolat (with framboise and black pepper) and kaya toast interpretation were fantastic, but the kaya toast might be better only because the chocolat was dense, and intense, ill-suited after a heavy meal. But the best was yet to be: a complimentary salted egg macaron FTW! What a great way to end a meal. If I open a bakery, I’ll poach this pastry chef!
My Interpretation of Kaya Toast: pandan coconut gula melaka muscovado sable, yuzu sorbet.
However, there were some areas that could be improved:
(1) The seafood (prawns and cod) came with a smell, although they tasted fine;
(2) the service was fine in general. The experienced staff was perfect, thoughtful and friendly, but I think the inexperience shows on the newer staff. They were negligent, didn’t bring out the exact amount of amuse bouche for 11 of us. A new wait staff was tentative, walking on egg shells, and piled bread on me although I didn’t ask for it and hadn’t finished my piece. That server missed out people who actually wanted bread and champagne. The server only asked 4 of us if we wanted coffee but didn’t go round the table.
(3) Rather limited choices on the set menu, and many items required us to pay extra. Given that the food is so expensive, it would be nice to give a full steak or a full slab of pork, instead of morsels for hobbits.
This was an expensive meal. We paid $1590 for 11 people, or $145 for one person. But it was also a delicious, delightful, creative meal. By the end of the meal, we were so satisfied and contented we requested to meet the chef and thank him personally. I am predicting this restaurant will go into our Top 10 Best Restaurants 2015. But next time, I’ll go for their affordable lunch.
Written by A. Nathanael Ho.