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This fine dining restaurant at the Botanic Gardens has some pretty big shoes to fill. Corner House follows in the wake of Au Jardin’s closure after years of nurturing the post-brunch sleepies on the weekends and playing host to all sorts of lavish celebrations for the city’s discerning diners. Its location is also steeped in history: the restaurant borrows its name from the tropical botanist, EJH Corner, who lived in the building while laying the foundations for Singapore’s garden city pedigree.
Getting there is just a quick 3-minute walk from the Botanic Gardens’ main drop-off point, or if you’re gunning for the red carpet treatment, make an appointment with your reservation for the resident buggy to wheel you up.
The setting is decidedly plush. Handsome grey armchairs cuddle diners throughout the meal, understated but lavish art overlooks the dining room, and there’s even cushioned tables to pad the itinerantly resting elbow on the tables. The echoey acoustics, however, won’t quite do you any romantic favours if a wild party of ten – which we dined with on our visit – racks up for a rip-roaring birthday celebration in the main dining room on the second level.
The good news is that the food measures up to its globetrotting local executive chef, Jason Tan, and his ascent through the kitchens of establishments like Justin Quek’s Sky on 57, Melt and Axis at the Mandarin Oriental Singapore and the defunct Julien Bompard at the Ascott Raffles Place. The cuisine is self-described as 'gastro-botanica', which takes influences from Mediterranean, Latin American and South-East Asian cooking to fire dishes that give equal reverence for veggies and protein on a plate.
The entry-level meal here for a romantic night out is a four-course set ($148) – half of the appetiser, starter, main and dessert options require a supplement to enjoy, which turns out to be a bit of a bummer when you’re given just one starter and one main to pick from without forking out the top up. The basic plates, nevertheless, are still great options – the perfectly seared fish with scales, served with an orb of egg yolk and delicately salted white wine sabayon is texture-rich.
The enthusiastic, endearingly friendly waiters generally do the kitchen justice with their ingredient patter, but ask for detail beyond the script and things might get a little cringey. You don’t want to know that the gruyere cheese sponge in the amuse bouche is ‘bought from a supplier and microwaved’ in a restaurant this serious, for example. However, it’s easy to blame the newness of the restaurant for the slip-up; the front-of-house team with their attentiveness and affability has kicked off Corner House’s dining experience to a great start.
If that’s convinced you to make a return trip, there are ways to splash some serious money on a special night out with the seven-course chef’s menu ($258). Corner House does a decent job keeping its wine list of over 600 labels democratic, offering four pages of vino (from $125) that includes premium vintners like Chateau d’Yquem and Chateau Cheval Blanc.
Restaurant trends seem to be swimming away from fine dining fanciness in favour of casual fun. Corner House is a nice bridge between the two with haute cuisine dished up with a comfy vibe.
Time Out Singapore reviews anonymously and pays for all meals. Read our restaurant review policy here.
What the stars mean:
★ Poor ★ ★ Promising ★★★ Good ★★★★ Very good ★★★★★ Exceptional
Botanic Gardens, Nassim Gate
1 Cluny Road
|Opening hours:||Tue-Sat noon-3pm, 6.30pm-11pm; Sun 11.30am-3pm, 6.30pm-11pm|
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