Lunch @ Whitegrass

July 11, 2016 in Australian by thywhaleliciousfay

Thinking that Great Singapore Sale (GSS) ends at end June 2016, I quickly took leave on 30 June to head out with my Mom to hopefully score some deals. But of course, I later learnt that GSS is till mid August 2016. Haha. Oops. And there wasn’t much for us to buy too. =(

And since it’s not often that I am free on weekdays, I decided to bring my Mom to Whitegrass after learning about them from fellow blogger HauteStuff. And as extracted from their website,

Whitegrass is chef-owner Sam Aisbett’s first restaurant venture. Whitegrass presents a contemporary fine dining experience, showcasing chef Sam’s interpretation of modern Australian cuisine. Chef Sam has spent time as head chef at award-winning restaurant Quay in Sydney, and as senior sous chef under celebrity chef Tetsuya Wakuda at his restauant, Tetsuya’s.

And to make reservation, I was re-directed to a third party website Fine Dining Experiences from Whitegrass’s. And it’s to note that one has to leave one’s credit card detail as there’s a $60 cancellation fee for no show or cancellation made after 10am on the booking date for lunch and $120 for dinner after 2pm. I am not sure if Whitegrass entertains walk-in, although I don’t see any reason as to why they wouldn’t because even if all the tables within the air-conditioned compound are occupied, there’s also the alfresco seats.

Upon arrival, a female staff greeted my Mom and I at the entrance and led us to our table after checking our reservation. We were seated in the main room, which also has the communal table. But what I really liked about our assigned table was that we could see what’s happening within the kitchen through the (one piece of) glass panel.

And I must say I also liked the colours used for the interior decor; Palette of white, pinks, greens and blues. It’s very… Feminine? Haha. And honestly, the space is designed very uniquely. It’s like entering into someone’s living room. Very cosy. If one looks at the wallpaper closely, it’s full of flowers, birds and fishes. And I liked how the space was further dolled up with creative floral arrangement. So it wasn’t a surprise when I later learnt that Whitegrass was designed to reflect chef Sam’s love of nature.

And from the lunch menu (pages 1, 2), my Mom and I chose to order the 3-course ($64) over the 5-course menu ($135) as the latter had to be ordered by everyone at the table. And with that, we started our lunch:-

1) Bread, Complimentary (above) – 72-hours rye sourdough bread that’s freshly baked in house by head chef Diego Cossio. Accompanied with echire butter and salt bought from The Olsson family; Australia’s oldest family-owned salt company.

2) Amuse bouche, Complimentary (above) – My Mom and I were surprised when head chef Diego Cossio came out personally to present us with… Ironically, chef Sam’s take on Korean dish bibimbap; Kombu cream, cured roe, toasted nori, cucumber, chrysanthemum, puffed rice, radish, dashi jelly. Haha. And this was pretty good. I enjoyed it on its own while my Mom enjoyed it as a topping to her bread. =)

3) Appetiser with options of:-

(A) Salad of slow roasted young beetroots, smoked eel, rosella jam, Australian mountain pepper (above)

(B) Lightly marinated Hokkaido scallops, horseradish cream, toasted seaweed oil, dashy jelly, sea succulents (above) – The plate of scallops was placed in front of us, before another staff continued to top it with horseradish that’s frozen with nitrogen which created a dry-ice effect. It’s a pity I couldn’t capture that moment cause out of politeness, I felt I should listen to the staff’s long introduction of the dish.

4) Main with options of:-

(A) Roasted New Zealand snapper, young parsley cream, bonnette potatoes, toasted nori oil (above)

(B) Toasted buckwheat enriched with truffle butter, white hen of the woods, fermented wheat crisp, olive leaf (above) – For the first time, I managed to have wholegrain risotto! Yeah to clean eating. Haha. And I really enjoyed this dish. I liked the surprise element of the curd hidden within.

5) Dessert with options of:-

(A) Jackfruit granita, fresh market fruit, young coconut mousse, passionfruit jelly, coconut sorbet (above)

(B) Vanilla bean parfait, guava ice cream, bergamot lemon curd, toasted meringue (above)

6) Slow cooked Mangalica pork, jade tiger abalone, fermented cabbage, white turnip, lotus stem, seaweed and pork broth, $30 (above) – And because I am a big eater, the small portion of the appetiser and main was insufficient to fill me up. Effects of exercising lots, and wanting to build mass. So this was ordered a-la carte from the 5-course menu. Melt-in-the-mouth cubes of pork jowl! Really awesome. I was pretty amazed by the texture of the meat, which I later read from their instagram that the pork was brined and slow-cooked for eight hours. And I like how the fermented cabbage added an interesting taste to the overall dish with its acidity.

7) Petit fours, Complimentary (above) – And we were told the 2 were created based on head chef Diego’s and chef Sam’s take on their childhood snacks.

8) Coffee, $7 (above) – And I ordered latte.

Whitegrass has a really lovely space. And I liked that they also paid attention to the smallest details. For example the wooden spoon that’s used for the bibimbap? Apparently 70 of these spoons were crafted in their friend’s art studio in Germany! Even the bowls that’s used to hold the butter and salt are one-off pieces. And yes, I got all of my information from their instragram. Keke.

However, service was noticeably slow. My Mom and I waited pretty long in between our courses. Which was weird cause I would have thought the food would be dished out faster since the restaurant would be serving a lunch crowd. Unless those working in City Hall area are privileged to enjoy a 2 to 3 hours lunch break instead of the normal 1 hour? And it was disappointing that we were not offered more bread as we waited in hunger for our dishes to come. Sob!!!

In addition, it seems that there’s only 1 staff allocated to each area. Or at least that’s what it was for the main room. So the poor staff attending to our area was really busy. We often noticed him brisk walking from the kitchen to the table, and from one table to another, etc. So when we were having our orders taken, instead of checking with the kitchen with my request of “can I order the pork from the 5-course menu as an a-la carte item”, he just went “We don’t do a-la carte.”

Which, of course, his answer wasn’t wrong. But when it comes to fine dining restaurants like Whitegrass, it’s only natural I expected more in terms of service. But of course, I managed to get my pork because after my Mom and I were done with our mains (and me still feeling hungry), I requested for the staff to check with the kitchen if we could have an additional main. Which later, the staff came back saying that the chef could oblige our request.

Would I recommend Whitegrass despite the long wait for our food? I would. However, do note that portion is pretty small. I can’t imagine how one would feel full if one decides to do the 2-course instead of 3-course. Maybe request for more rye bread?

30 Victoria Street, Chijmes, #01-26/27, Singapore
6837 0402, Website, Facebook
Overall: 7.5
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 8
Wed – Sat : 12:00 – 14:00 (Lunch)
Ambience: 8
Tues – Sat : 18:00 – 21:30 (Dinner)
Value: 7
* Closed on Mon & Sun
Service: 7

UPDATE 1: Restaurant was awarded 1 Michelin star by Michelin Guide Singapore 2017.
UPDATE 2: Restaurant was awarded 1 Michelin star by Michelin Guide Singapore 2018.