To celebrate CC's birthday (it's a super duper belated celebration coz he was stuck in a trial and intermittently away on several holidays during his birthday month), Beeps, the Hubs and I brought him out to The White Rabbit for dinner. I've only ever been here once, for a friend's wedding, and been hankering to try the ala carte menu but never really got around to it.
Stepping into the restaurant was already an experience in itself. What used to be a church was lovingly restored into a dining cum watering hole. A bit sacrilegious, I suppose, to the conservatively religious, but who cares! I love the Victorian architecture of the place. Dramatic high arched ceilings, intricately stained glass windows, romantic lowlights and the heavy use of rustic wooden furniture, the restaurant just charms with its old-world romance.
In line with the decor, the food was just awesome. This is definitely going on our "Best of 2012" lists. Everything was just masterfully executed and beautifully crafted. Not a single wrong move at all. Suffice to say, we all had a wonderful dinner.
Service was also top-notch, even if they did screw up and forgot one of our main course orders. They apologised very sincerely and profusely with hot forthy cups of latte all around, complimentary of course. That really helped quell our frustration with the half-hour wait for the forgotten main.
We started off with a couple of appetizers. The Wagyu Carpaccio ($26), with fine shavings of parmesan and pretty beads of balsamic pearls, looked so much like a Monet that we almost couldn't bear to cut into it. But boy was it good. The wagyu was fresh and meltingly tender, dressed in the fairy dust that is truffle cream and a quartet of truffle shavings. This was so good I almost didn't care that there was celery cress in it.
The Ravioli ($21 for a 2-dumpling appetizer portion) was just as unforgettable. An assortment of forest mushrooms lent flavour and texture to the juicy yet al dente dumpling, while a sweetly nuanced port reduction balanced out the sharp saltiness of parmesan foam. I'm getting the main course portion all for myself in future.
The star of the Poached Red Snapper ($32) has gotta be the aromatic nage, the white wine-infused poaching liquid. The soup-like liquid was at the same time sweet and flavourful and rich and light and delicate. CC literally licked the plate clean off. Buttered leeks, white button mushrooms and tomatoes rounded off the dish perfectly.
The Grilled Atlantic Cod ($38) was unfortunately compared to the snapper. On its own, this was delicious. Flaky but firm, this was grilled to a perfectly charred crisp on the skin, with the flesh still moist and oily. A fava beans and diced tomatoes with caper laced sauce vierge imparted flavour to the fish with its bright and tangy overtures. A light clear dish, but I think we all preferred the snapper. It just lacked the oomph of the nage in the snapper.
The Beef Cheek Bourguignon ($48), the aforementioned forgotten main course, was definitely well worth the wait. Oh it was possibly the best beef stew ever. The meat was plastic fork tender. Practically no chewing required so even a baby or geriatic on dentures could enjoy it. It was luxurious, potent and robust, but with a mellow sweetness and caramelization. The root vegetables, pearl onions and crisp bacon chunked up the dish. Fluffy mousseline potatoes were on hand to soak up all remnants of the awesome brown gravy.
The Risotto ($32), with crunchy green asparagus, black truffle, and a parmesan crisp, was also incredible. It was al dente, balanced and yet richly luscious. Every mouthful was a delight. A most fragrant and delicious mushroom risotto. We lapped this up as well.
The White Chocolate Souffle ($18), using premium Valrhona Opalys so it's less sweet than the usual white chocolate, was so light and airy it practically floated. Nuanced and balanced, this was sweet without being saccharine. A scoop of triple chocolate ice-cream provided an icy contrast to the warm souffle.
The Baked Alaska ($16) came highly recommended and this lived up to the hype. The vanilla ice-cream cake with toasted meringue was sweet but not cloying, while the piquant fruity tang of the berry compote contrasted with the charred sweetness of the meringue.
Complimentary bread, a mini baguette and cranberry foccacia, both freshly baked, were on hand throughout the night to fill our tummies and/or soak up all of the deliciously velvety gravies.
The White Rabbit
39C Harding Road
Tel: 6473 9965
Open weekdays from 12noon to 2.30pm for lunch and 6.30pm to 10.30pm for dinner
weekends from 11am to 2.30pm for lunch and 6.30p to 10.30pm for dinner
Closed on Mondays