Brunch @ Bee’s Knees at The Garage

February 14, 2017 in European (cafe)

Having heard of a new cafe opening at Botanical Garden, my ex-colleagues and I decided to head over for breakfast. And we decided to meet early at 10am since the cafe doesn’t take reservation, and mainly because I had to rush off by 12.30pm. Keke.

The building which houses Bee’s Knee at level 1 (cafe during the day) and Botanico at level 2 (restaurant by night) is called The Garage. And The Garage is located at the end nearer to Bukit Timah (Botanic Gardens MRT station) rather than Tanglin (Orchard MRT station). No surprise we ladies all arrived by cabs. Haha.

And we chose to sit in the air-conditioned unit instead of alfresco area. However, when we were placing our orders at the cashier, we realised the pasta and pizza were only available at 11.30am. We were slightly disappointed to hear that. It was not mentioned anywhere on their menu.

But thankfully, we had lots to catch up. And from the menu (pages 1, 2, 3, 4), we ordered:-

1) Waffle, $14 (above) – Caramelised apples, greek yoghurt, cranberries. A pure disappointment. I didn’t like anything about it.

2) Smokey salmon focaccia, $14 (above) – Smoked salmon, cream cheese, herbs, beetroot, marinated Japanese cucumber. It would be better if they were more generous with the ingredients. But the accompanying chips were addictive.

3) Truffle carbonara la pasta, $18 (above) – Spaghetti, truffle, bacon, parmesan, rocket, confit onion. It’s probably the air-conditioner that’s pretty strong. Cause by the time we portioned the pasta into quarters (which I did pretty quick), the pasta was cold. Cold pasta? That’s a big no, no. My ex-colleagues also agreed the taste was just normal. Nothing impressive.

4) Carnivore la pizza, $25 (above) – Tomato, mozzarella, Italian sausage, smoked chicken breast, salami. For non-beef eaters like me, do note the salami contains beef. That said, the first few bites were salty. But it got better as we ate towards the crust…

5) Chai latte, $5 (above) – My ex-colleague was disappointed with the lack of latte art.

6) Strawberry milkshake, $8 (above) – Nice.

I won’t say Bee’s Knees is a cafe worth making that special trip down just for their food or ambience. Instead, Bee’s Knees is a nice place to rest and grab a quick bite if one is (already) at Botanical Gardens.

50 Cluny Park Road, Singapore Botanic Gardens, Singapore
6264 7978, Website, Facebook
Overall: 6
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 6
Mon – Sun : 08:00 – 18:00
Ambience: 7
Value: 6
Service: 6

Brunch @ Halia

June 28, 2016 in European (cafe)

With a girlfriend back from Japan for good and the Mommy in our clique who’s itching to go somewhere nice, we decided to meet for brunch. And I must say, it wasn’t easy finding a venue that fits our Mommy-girlfriend’s criteria. I don’t blame her though. I could imagine I would also make full use of every precious opportunity to go out while having the husband taking care of the children.

So yes, we were off to Halia at Botanic Garden for brunch which starts from 10am to 5pm (Hi-tea is from 3pm to 5pm). We reached at 11am as we were told they don’t accept reservation, and we didn’t want to wait in line. So yes, we went early. Ha.

Getting to Halia was a little tricky though. Botanic Garden is big, and we were not sure at which end they were located at. And because all of us stayed in the North, we shared a cab to Botanic Garden. And Hali is located beside the National Orchid Garden. They have air-conditioned seats and alfresco seats, which we went with the latter as the weather was cooling enough to sit outside without breaking into sweats. =)

And from the brunch menu, we ordered:-

1) Truffle fries, $18 (above) – Parmesan, parsley & white truffle oil.

2) Smashed avocado on toasted sourdough, $22 (above) – Seasonal tomato, chilli & goat’s cheese.

3) 62.5° poached egg, $22 (+ $5, Irish smoked salmon) (above) – Toasted english muffin, sauteed spinach, smoked capsicum salsa, herb butter sauce.

4) Halia’s Singapore-style chilli crab spaghettini, $26 (above) – In spicy, sweet & tangy sauce.

5) Cinnamon French toast, $18 (above) – Fresh seasonal berries, white chocolate sauce & Iranian pistachio.

6) Die die must have chocolate, $12 (above) – Chocolate raspberry ganache, cacao nibs tuile, chocolate marshmallow, raspberry sorbet, raspberry sauce, crispy raspberry & chocolate.

7) Latte, $6.50 (above)

8) Cardamom milk tea (chilled), $10 (above)

9) Ginger jive, $12 (above) – Ice blend of fresh ginger, fruit punch, orange & honey.

Frankly, the food at Halia (in my humblest opinion) was way overpriced! I mean, $22 for avocado on toast? And the portion of avocado was very small. Pardon me. Ever since I do my own grocery shopping and prepare my own meals, I am very sensitive to prices.

Halia is a nice place to chill and catch up with friends. But catching up is made more fun when there’s good food too. So even though the food at Halia was acceptable in terms of taste, the dishes were too expensive. Too expensive! How to catch up over food when we can’t bear to order the overly priced dishes. o_O Ha. I mean, we can’t be sharing 3 mains among 5 ladies, right?

So unless one is desperate for food after exploring Botanic Garden, I won’t suggest Hali at Botanic Garden. Our hard-earned money should be spent more wisely.

And oh… The reception at Halia was really bad. Which could be a good thing in a way; Less hands on mobiles. Ha.

1 Cluny Road, Singapore Botanic Gardens, Ginger Gardens, Singapore
8444 1148, Website, Facebook
Overall: 7
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 7
Mon – Thur : 12:00 – 21:30
Ambience: 7
Fri : 12:00 – 22:00
Value: 6
Sat – Sun : 10:00 – 22:00
Service: 7

Dinner @ Corner House

September 12, 2014 in French

Corner House occupied EJH Corner House in July 2014 and I had been curious since to find out how well they would fare. Especially when the restaurant (Au Jardin) previously occupying the same space was one of my favorites and one of my first few fine dining experiences. So I guess Chef Jason Tan was right in a way when he said (in a newspaper article) he had big shoes to fill. Keke.

It can be quite a walk if one takes the public transport as Corner House is located in the middle of Singapore Botanic Garden. My ex-colleague and I came by car. And that alone wasn’t simple. Having last dined at EJH Corner House 5 years ago, I kept thinking I remembered the way when I had apparently forgotten. Haha.

By car, if one is turning into Cluny road from Holland road or Napier road, the first gate of Botanic Garden is Tanglin Gate. Keep driving till one see the next entrance which is the Nassim Gate. Parking at car park A, B or C does not make much difference in terms of the walking distance to Corner House.

And if one is unsure how to navigate to Corner House from the car park, the restaurant has buggy service. Give them a call upon arrival (at the car park) to arrange.

Upon arrival, we were greeted by the staff at the entrance and were immediately brought to the second storey where the service manager took over and led us to our seats.

Corner House, being a colonial bungalow formerly occupied by Edred John Henry Corner, has 2 seating areas. I would recommend making a reservation for tables by the window to enjoy the view if dining in the day. Window or non-window seats don’t make a difference at night since it’s dark.

Corner House has 2 menus; Set menu and ‘discovery menu experience‘ priced at $248 per head which the entire table would need to order.

My ex-colleague and I decided to go with the set menu which had the options of 4 or 6 courses. We chose 1 set of 4-courses ($98) and 1 set of 6-courses ($148) which allowed us to try all the dishes except oysters (cause I still have my phobia) from the appetizer section and cheese platter from the desserts section:-

1) Amuse bouche, Complimentary (above) – Cheese sponge and Norwegian salmon confit with sesame seeds. The salmon just melted in the mouth by layers, although I felt the sesame seeds were a little too much. Cheese sponge which looked like it’s going to be soft like cloud was a mixture of fluff and crisp.

2) Appetizer with options of:-

(A) Carabinero prawn (+ $18, supplement) (above) – Variation of best season tomato, vintage sherry.

(B) Foie gras a la chinoise (above) – Mango duo preparation with ginger flavour. Teochew inspired, foie gras was braised in soya sauce. This was so good that I closed my eyes (unconsciously) to savour it. Oh yah, my ex-colleague told me so. Oops. Haha. I really liked the contrasting textures achieved from the smooth foie gras against the crunchy (sour) Thai mango strips. A must try!

(C) Beetroot collection (above) – Smoked eel, 24 months comte, horseradish, walnut and black garlic. Yellow beetroot were topped with cheese and red beetroot with olive oil. Beautifully presented, these beetroot had a very clean taste.

3) Starter with options of:-

(A) Maine lobster (+ $18, supplement) (above) – Riso pasta, squid, bottarga, cider and crustacean emulsion. I was so fascinated by the pasta that’s shaped like risotto. It was as chewy as the diced baby squid! Really good. Love this dish!

(B) New Zealand cod “crispy scales” (above) – Egg yolk confit, petit vegetables, smoked vin jaune sabayon. We were informed that the fish was cooked skin down such that the scales were edible. And indeed, the scales were thin and crispy. Cod was beautifully cooked such that it retained most (or could it be all) of its moisture.

4) Main with options of:-

(A) Free range chicken (above) – Champignon, romaine lettuce, sauce surf & turf. Another highlight! Chicken was done in 2 ways; Sous vide and pan-seared. I remember it was commented in Masterchef Australia that it’s a skill to cook and achieve a moist chicken breast. So yes, they must have really good skills at Corner House. The breast meat’s texture was like… Really dense? Dense but so juicy and flavorful! A must try.

(B) Hungarian mangalitsa pork (+ $15, supplement) (above) – Momo peach, wasonbon, ginger, endives, apple gel, natural jus.

5) Pre-dessert (above) – Apple jelly which doubled up as palate cleanser.

6) Dessert with options of:-

(A) Chocolat (above) – Manjari, malabar black pepper, framboise. Don’t judge a book by its cover. This looked deceivingly simple in terms of presentation but was so good! Our favorite for desserts. With a raspberry core, crackling could be heard as we sliced through the tart. Within the tart was layers of goodness. 2 of which are very thin layers of chocolate that introduced a crunch to this beautiful dessert. Really good. A must try!

(B) My interpretation of kaya toast (above) – Pandan, coconut, gula melaka, muscovado and yuzu.

7) Cocoa “pebbles”, $32 (above) – Alpaco, mandarin, shimeiji. Having heard raves of this dessert, we requested to order this (which is only available on their $248 menu) a-la carte. And within the marshmallow exterior were chocolate mousse and a lemon curd core. The level of exquisiteness was truly impressive. I mean, they even put ‘rain drops’!

8) “Liu sha bao” macaron, Complimentary (above) – Chef Jason Tan seeing that we were desserts people, arranged for us to try their signature macarons. Gingerly placed in an upright position on a beautiful marble slab, these were so good! The savory filling of salted egg york complemented the sweet (macaron) shell!

Well, I have to say Chef Jason Tan’s worry about having big shoes to fill is unnecessary. We really enjoyed our dining experience. There’s no doubt to the beauty of the place. Although I have to admit I was pretty upset initially when I couldn’t get the manager’s attention to place my order for a good 15 minutes. And it certainly did not help that the service staff were busy being busy. One waiting staff even brushed us casually with a “wait”. But things picked up and our dining experience went very well after we placed our order. Dishes were served at a good pace through out our dinner.

And what really made a good impression was when Chef Jason Tan made his rounds to interact with patrons with a sincere heart. I was impressed when he surprised us with their signature macarons after he found out we were desserts people.

Corner House is definitely one restaurant to try. Beautiful place. Amazing food. Good value for money (go for the set menu!)

1 Cluny Road, EJH Corner House, Singapore
6469 1000, Website, Facebook
Overall: 8
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 9
Tues – Sat : 12:00 – 15:00 (Lunch)
Ambience: 8
Tues – Sun : 18:30 – 23:00 (Dinner)
Value: 8
Sun : 11:00 – 15:00 (Brunch)
Service: 8
* Closed on Mon

UPDATE 1: Restaurant was awarded 1 Michelin star by Michelin Guide Singapore 2016.
UPDATE 2: Restaurant was awarded 1 Michelin star by Michelin Guide Singapore 2017.