Did you know that Au Jardin at the Singapore Botanic Gardens will be closing soon? You probably have less than a month to dine there and bid it adieu! I was so glad to be able to dine at Au Jardin one last time, for my birthday celebration last week. Au Jardin has a special place in my heart for many reasons. The most obvious reason is that it’s such a beautiful restaurant, sited in EJH Corner House, a conservation status black and white colonial building formerly occupied by the Assistant Director of the Singapore Botanic Gardens. And of course, the Singapore Botanic Gardens, Singapore’s most illustrious garden park, may soon receive the UNESCO world heritage site status!
I have been to Au Jardin countless times for business, but only once previously for a leisurely meal. Visiting Au Jardin again this time round for my birthday was bittersweet. Even though I have been here many times, the feeling of stepping into this time capsule once again was no less magical. The food here is great, service exemplary, and the ambience is hard to beat. I dare say no other place in Singapore quite exudes such a unique character and history as this restaurant. I will be sad to see Au Jardin go, and I’m sure many who have experienced the hospitality of Au Jardin will feel the same. If it’s any consolation, EJH Corner House will still remain the same though, at least facade wise, as this is a conservation status building. A new restaurant will take over the space, so watch out for my review in time to come.
The E.J.H Corner House where Au Jardin Restaurant is located
We were there for the set lunch. Compared to the dinner ala carte menu, the set lunch is much more wallet friendly at $45++. It’s a 3 course meal plus petit fours and coffee or tea. I would have loved to savour the meal over 3 hours, like I always do when it comes to fine-dining, but alas the Partner had to go back to work!
Love the detailling on the plate. It’s so Botanic Gardens don’t you think?
Nice crusty bread and butter to start off the meal
The garden view balcony. Having dinner here on Valentine’s day would have set you back by a cool $560, as compared to dining in the main banquet hall which would have been $460.
Mesclun salad with shaved vegetables, marinated lentils, seasonal fruits and honey mustard dressing
The Partner chose this refreshing salad as his starter. The vegetables were very fresh and crisp tasting. The honey mustard dressing might have sounded simple, but it was key in uniting all the flavours together. A really good start to the meal.
Fricasee of Mushroom, duck gizzard confit and bacon in mushroom broth
I chose this mushroom broth. Had instagrammed this to my colleagues and they had all thought that I had decided to go to a Chinese restaurant instead! I really like this soup with its bold flavours, none of those weak soups for me thank you very much. I don’t think I’ve ever been served duck gizzard in this manner in a restaurant but it was just lovely. The flesh was really tender, and actually I hadn’t really noticed that I was eating innards until I gave the dish a good look.
Butter roasted US pork rack with sauteed asparagus, baby potatoes, aged ham and pan jus
There were 3 mains to choose from. As I don’t like sea bass, I was really torn between the pork rack and the prawn pasta below. Luckily, I ended up going for the prawn pasta, but unfortunately for the Partner, he decided to go for this. The pork was slightly on the tough side. Apart from the sautéed vegetables which were nice, there really wasn’t much to shout about for this dish. No special sauce but just pan jus either. To conclude, a very normal tasting dish that could have been replicated at home without too much difficulty.
Prawn a la plancha, egg confit, shell pasta and seasonal vegetables in shellfish glaze
I had no idea what “a la plancha” meant. I thought it was some kind of ingredient, and I was too shy to ask, you know me being in ahem a fine dining restaurant. I later googled and “a la plancha” simply means grilled in Spanish. Why Spanish wording in a French restaurant, it befuddles me. But as they say, a rose by any other name would smell as sweet. In this case, this grilled prawn pasta dish was absolutely fantastic. It is probably one of the best pasta dishes I have ever eaten!
They were very generous with 5 huge prawns, all succulent and sweet tasting, and also deveined. For an egg lover like me, you can imagine my joy at seeing the wobbly egg yolk in the middle of the dish. I guess you’re supposed to poke it and mix the yolk with the shellfish sauce. But no way am I going to dilute my egg yolk like that. I scooped it up and ate it whole. I’m sure you’ll understand if you love eggs.
The pasta was astounding as well. For a “pasta snob” like me, I’m fussy with the shape of pasta that is served. Spaghetti, penne, and shells always strike me as a little common. I have to admit I assumed too soon, because the shell pasta were perfect in helping to scoop up the rich shellfish sauce. The shellfish sauce was really a winner here. So rich tasting, it tasted like lobster bisque. Hours must have gone into boiling up this shellfish stock. I wish I had more of the sauce to savour!
To conclude, I cannot find a single fault with this dish, except that maybe they should have cleaned their grill as it left small black flecks on the prawns. With the closure of Au Jardin, I hope the Les Amis Group can offer this dish on the menu at their other outlets eg Bistro du Vin?
Really really happy with my main course!
Frozen Espresso Bombe with passion fruit and milk froth
Being a chocolate lover, I liked this dessert very much! It was the perfect ending to a lovely meal. The ice cream was intensely chocolaty, with a slight hint of coffee. The passionfruit I didn’t really detect and I guess any stronger, it would not have gone well with the chocolate. Nice little crunchy bits of chocolate to give the ice cream a bit of bite. My only grouse is that with a name like frozen espresso bombe, I had not expected it to be an ice cream, especially when the other dessert and expressly stated itself to contain ice cream. I did so WANT an ice cream, but because I didn’t know, I didn’t order this.
Popcorn, homemade cracker, caramel sauce and ice cream
Instead, I ordered this popcorn ice cream thing, which is really just popcorn atop an ice cream. And alas, my ice cream was rather melty by the time I got to the bottom, it was the texture of cold thick cream. The ice cream taste was nice, but it would have been nicer to have a firm ice cream! Also, the popcorn was not crisp. On the whole, we both thought it was a really weird dessert to serve in a fine-dining restaurant.
You can see here that the ice cream was already melted when it was served
And finally, to end off the meal, petit fours in the form of mini macarons. I only liked the lemon ones while the partner liked both the lemon and the coffee macaron. The lemon one was really good. I wonder if they are from Canele since that’s also under the Les Amis Group?
And coffee to end off the lovely meal
Thanks Hunny for the lovely birthday lunch at Au Jardin. It was a wonderful meal and lovely to have the opportunity to dine here before the closure of Au Jardin.
Goodbye Au Jardin. We will miss you. But we will look forward to the new restaurant that will grace the floors of EJH Corner House and give it a new lease of life!
Read my review of Au Jardin’s weekend brunch
Read my review on my friend’s wedding lunch at Au Jardin
Read about other places to dine at the Singapore Botanic Gardens
EJH Corner House, Singapore Botanic Garden Visitors Centre
Cluny Road, Singapore 259569
Luncheon: Tuesdays to Fridays only 12pm
Dinner : Tuesdays to Sundays 7pm
Sunday Brunch : Sundays only 11 – 1pm (1st seating) 1 – 3 pm (2nd seating)
http://www.lesamis.com.sg (menu available online)
** Contrary to the info you may find in some other websites, Au Jardin is not located near the entrance next to Gleneagles Hospital. Ít’s near the “middle” entrance. Click on the directions link above and you will get a clearer picture.
Read article on Les Amis Group closing down Au Jardin.