No.17 San Pellegrino Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2016
1 ✻ Michelin Guide Singapore 2016
visited Nov 2016
This was a long-anticipated revisit to Corner House, and one I enjoyed from start to finish. Despite only being awarded one star in the 2016 Michelin Guide Singapore, this was without a doubt the most enjoyable meal I had this year. Our table opted for the full 8-course discovery menu with wine pairing, a decadent affair that lasted 3.5 hours.
We were served two amuse-bouches, the first set is pictured above. The FOH carefully instructed us to start with the oyster leaf, pictured in the background, followed by the cracker with roe and creme fraiche, the cucumber jelly with mustard seeds and the sesame balls with sesame powder. We picked a rosé to accompany the amuse-bouches since there wasn’t any wine paired, and the wine by the glass did not disappoint. A strong pinot-noir driven champagne with excellent structure that was a pleasant accompaniment.
The oyster leaf blew me away completely and paved the way for what would be a botanical-heavy meal emphasising the Chef’s importance on vegetable elements which complemented equally, if at times even substituting, protein components on the plate. The first amuse-bouche we had perfectly encapsulates this unique philosophy, tasting strongly of creamy oysters yet retaining it’s obvious vegetal origins. A fascinating dish that set the tone for the rest of the meal.
Our second amuse-bouche was a smoked eel parfait with strips of smoked eel and Cristal de Chine caviar. Served in a custom-made caviar tin, the dish was presented on a bed of pebbles and dry ice, which made for great theatricity. Nice texture on the parfait, the overall flavour reminded me of well-smoked mackerel. Very nice indeed.
The first course arrived shortly after, a medley of Carabinero prawns with variations of seasonal tomatoes. Among the most memorable interpretations of seasonal tomatoes included the white tomato foam pictured above on the right, as well as the tomato sorbet. I’d previously been served an excellent cucumber sorbet the last time I dined at Corner House, and this tomato sorbet did not disappoint. Both the foam and the sorbet were exquisite, with distinctly sweet/savoury tomato flavours perfectly accompanying the succulent prawns. The deep-fried prawn head was equally satisfying and partnered pleasantly with the sorbet. Formulated with vintage sherry and an healthy dose of more caviar, the dish once more articulated in no uncertain terms Chef Jason’s commitment to presenting botanical and protein elements with equal emphasis on the plate.
The second course was the restaurant’s signature onion dish, a composite of four onion dishes, the first of which was a 62-degree farm egg served in a smoked onion and topped with grated black truffles. Lovely consistency on the egg which was served at the perfect temperature, the sweet smokiness from the onion balancing out earthy, savoury notes from the truffles. Complete with a warm, inviting aroma, the dish opened up the suite of four highly technical and delicious dishes created with Cevennes onions.
We were instructed to proceed on to the onion tarts next, little thin discs of onion purée and parmesan on the thinnest film of pastry imaginable. Melting in the mouth, the purée tasted distinctly of the sweet/smoky onions, while the laminae of pastry had a texture equalling the thin, crispy outer skin of an onion. Despite it not looking especially elaborate, this was nonetheless one interesting and enjoyable dish of a quartet.
Up next was the anticipated onion crisps that had been lightly seasoned after being dehydrated for 24 hours. Incredible savoury sweetness coming from the crisps, and I strongly encourage biting off as large a piece as possible. The crunch and flavour go hand-in-hand. A stunning example of how texture infinitely enhances the sensory experience of the dish.
The final part of this quartet was the emulsion of onion confit and cream with an Earl grey-infused caramelised onion tea. A little note was served alongside the dish beforehand, providing a bit of insight and advise on how to best appreciate the dish. According to this booklet, a whopping three kilos of onions go into making 200ml of the tea. “It’s the closest you’ll get to drinking an onion”, it went on to add. It did not disappoint. The earl grey-infused onion tea was the most intensely pleasant savoury concoction i’d savoured in my life, and the emulsion gave it a pleasant textural accompaniment. “Drink it like a cappuccino”, advised our waiter. And drink it like one we did.
A great cornucopia of botanicals arrived next, composed with some 40 different varieties of plants. I spotted sweetcorn, carrots, fern, beet, romanesco, lettuce, tomato, daikon, dill, and numerous types of mushrooms, but what really struck me wasn’t simply the broad incorporation of plant ingredients, but more importantly, the overall sense of unity that the dish projected. Carefully curated in a variety of preparation techniques and served on an exquisite plate, the dish did well to reinforce the restaurant’s commitment to serving vegetables in such a way as to elevate them to the central thrust of the dish itself.
Carbs were served next, a wonderful Mangalitsa pork jowl with riso, aged Comté, romanesco and white truffle. The visual resemblance of the delicately prepared pork and the white truffles were a pleasant surprise, and pushing them aside revealed a bed of riso that had the best texture imaginable. Flawless dish overall, even if it treaded on the safe side. No complaints though, and I thoroughly appreciated the generous serving 0f white truffles. This dish was served with a pleasant white Burgundy.
An elegant kimmedai dish followed our carbs, accompanied by Mozambique langoustine as well as fennel, burnt orange, yellow capsicum purée and basil sprouts. Garnishes with wispy dill heads, the dish was paired with an excellent red Burgundy. The wide-eyed snapper was excellently seasoned and this was a very enjoyable seafood dish indeed, the sweet/citrus notes from the orange and vegetables enhancing the sweetness from the seafood.
Our main protein dish arrived next, an A4 Toriyama beef from Japan glazed in soy caramel and garnished amply with horseradish, macadamia, black radish and shallots, which are the long caramelised bulbs in between the two pieces of beef. I ordered my beef medium-rare and it did not disappoint. The sprigs of horseradish served in the conical discs of black radish offered a vegetal counterweight to the meatiness and savoury elements in the dish, although they did not detract from the excellent quality of the beef in question. Served with an ’07 Bordeaux with classic Bordeaux flavours and aromas, this was another “traditional” protein dish infinitely enhanced though ingenious botanical pairings.
Our palate cleansers descended amid a cloud of nitrogen vapour, comprising a green apple and lemon sorbet garnished with fine strips of green apple and seaweed. A savoury dashi stock was flash-frozen with liquid nitrogen on a cart in front of the table and whisked into a crunchy powder reminiscent of granita then heaped onto the oyster-shaped vessel. The unexpected combination of savoury and sweet/acidic components worked surprisingly well, and although green apple takes centre stage in this dish, the name of this dish, Nitro, seems to hint at a willingness to give added emphasis to the savoury dashi granita. Great dessert-y texture with the dashi which really harmonised the entire dish.
We were thoroughly impressed at this point, but desserts arrived and blew us away once more. This time, it was a cocoa pebble <forêt noire>, composed with 66% alpaco and kirsch-infused griottine cherries, little intense bursts of fruit liqueur which punctuated the otherwise sweet dish. For the record, the pebbles were far from hard, and had a texture similar to the smoked eel parfait we were served earlier. The little meringue mushrooms and cherry sorbet underneath the pebbles provided enhanced textural variation and rounded off this playful dessert. Served with an ’03 Sauternes, the dish capped off a splendid meal overall, even if the wine did not quite deliver the finesse expected of a Sauternes of this vintage.
After what seemed like a blur of impressive dishes and a lot of wine, we arrived at the petit fours, although at this point I had ceased to devote my unadulterated attention to the waiter who was kindly explaining the dishes. From my recollection (and it gets a little fuzzy at this point), the dish on the left was some kind of brown sugar confection, while the dish in the middle foreground was a madeleine with traces of botanical impressions. The one behind that was a bowl of chocolate-coated macadamia nuts, and the one on the far right was a serving of salted-egg macarons, which had a lovely rounded sweetness on the palate which balanced the saltiness perfectly.
Cocktails were in order, and I picked up a Dark & Stormy. Chatter followed and it soon struck eleven. Including a generous tip, the meal at Corner House was easily the most expensive meal of the year at a cost of S$500 per head. As we departed, the staff presented us with a little tin containing some of their madeleines, a gesture we thought capped off a night of friendly and attentive service.
A note on wine pairing: in retrospect i find myself somewhat disappointed with the wine pairings at CH. Nothing revolutionary really, the food is nice but skip the WP.
cuisine: 24/25 | aesthetic: 13/15 | technicality: 13/15 | originality : 14/15 | ambience: 13/15 | service: 8/10 | value: 2/5
aggregate score: 87