Last Updated: March 14, 2019
Tucked away in a beautifully restored shop house along Jalan Besar is a farm-to-table restaurant, Subrosa Private Dining.
Not only does it pride itself in giving diners an exclusive experience, but it also prides itself in bringing in some of the freshest ingredients you can get in Singapore. In addition to the breads and truffle butter that are made from scratch, the meats served at Subrosa are dry aged in-house as well.
The restaurant is easily recognised by its signature bright red signboard. The frosted glass doors and the discreet side door that leads to the second floor certainly contribute towards the restaurant’s ‘private dining’ experience.
The first floor of Subrosa Private Dining sits 22 pax comfortably.
Considering that Subrosa’s Executive Chef Steven Snowdon has cooked for Michelin-starred restaurants in London and also for some of the most elusive individuals in the world such as the British royal family, I was incredibly excited to see what he and Consulting Chef Francis Lee had in store for me that day.
Its second floor is designed for more intimate gatherings for up to 22 pax comfortably. You can request for bespoke menus with personalised services to suit your private party’s every need. Do note that you need a minimum spend of S$1,000 to book the second floor.
Subrosa comes from the Latin word ‘sub rosa‘, it translates to ‘under the rose’, which means confidentiality in English. It originates from the ancient practice of hanging roses above dining tables and meeting chambers, symbolising that everyone in that room was sworn to secrecy.
Each table had a pretty metal flower decoration which reminded me of Beauty and the Beast, and our red napkins were tied firmly into a rose-like shape. Subrosa Private Dining definitely gets points for thinking and executing its concept through.
We were treated to a seven-course menu during our tasting session, but do note that Subrosa Private Dining only has three-course business lunch (S$78++), five-course (S$108++/lunch, S$128++/dinner) and seven-course (S$148++/lunch, S$168++/dinner) menus.
Starting off our seven-course menu was the Artisan Bread Selection, including wholemeal buns, garlic buns and white bread buns.
We were told that not only is the bread freshly baked in-house right before being served to guests, the dedicated chefs actually wake up at 5am in the morning to kick-start the entire bread-making process.
The buns were absolutely fantastic. Soft, warm and fluffy, they were firm and crusty on the outside and pulled apart easily. I was delighted to see fresh steam coming out of the bread.
These freshly baked buns went hand-in-hand with Subrosa’s house-made truffle butter, which was smooth, mildly sweet, with a touch of rustic earthiness and saltiness. I could spot flecks of truffle in the butter, which was a sure sign that the restaurant used real truffles rather than truffle oil.
The first course is an amuse-bouche, called Fresh is Best. Delicately plated and beautifully presented, this dish comprised of cured Hokkaido scallops, lemon and ginger gel, pickled cucumbers, melons, baby radish, smoked caviar and salmon roe.
The dish was topped off with edible herbs, which were grown and harvested from the restaurant’s in-house herb garden.
The Hokkaido scallops were tender and incredibly sweet. The ginger and lemon gel added a little tanginess to the sweet scallops, which made every bite refreshing and appetising.
What I really liked about this dish was the balance of flavours and textures; the edible herbs gave the dish a peppery kick and the pickled cucumbers and melons were crunchy and piquant.
Next, The Cocktail was a savoury dish that had freshly picked crab meat, aerated shrimp bisque with kaffir, lime and curry, coconut flakes and “Bloody Mary” tomatoes.
It was such an experience watching Executive Chef Steven Snowdon dispense the aerated shrimp bisque right in front of my eyes. The shrimp bisque had a cream-like texture and looked like mousse or whipped cream.
We were told to alternate a scoop of The Cocktail with a “Bloody Mary” tomato. The initial taste of coconut was really strong and it reminded me almost of Thai green curry, but as I continued to scoop through the layers, I was met with an intense crunch from the freshly roasted coconut flakes.
While the fresh crab meat was sweet and tender, the aerated shrimp bisque had a tinge of spiciness from the freshly cut fennel pollen, which was placed on top of the bisque. This dish was definitely one of my favourites!
The cherry tomatoes were blanched, sous vide and left in a vinaigrette infusion (which contained Sriracha) for a month. This allowed the tomatoes to absorb the spicy flavours and resemble a Bloody Mary drink.
I expected the tomato to burst in my mouth, but in reality, it was juicier. As I chewed on the “Bloody Mary” tomato, it was tangy and the heat of the Sriracha quickly took over, followed by the sharp acidity of the vinegar.
Looking at the dish as a whole, pairing the pickled tomatoes with the aerated shrimp bisque and freshly picked crab meat made every bite tropical and refreshing, just like an actual Bloody Mary drink.
The Quaking Cod That is a combination of land and sea, which comprised of duck consommé, sous-vide codfish, a layer of crisp seaweed (to mimic the fish’s skin), a bed of shimeji mushrooms, ginger gel and crispy deep-fried banana shallots.
What I really liked about this dish was the full-bodied duck consommé, which had been cooked for hours. It tasted like soy sauce and vinegar with a touch of earthiness from the mushrooms.
The codfish was cooked really well and its soft flesh fell apart easily, and I also liked the satisfying crunch from the crispy banana shallots, which were sweeter than regular shallots.
A welcome respite after three courses, the Palate Cleanser was lychee sorbet with sugar plum, and topped off with freshly shaven chocolate mint leaves.
What caught my attention was the subtle taste of chocolate from the mint leaves and it left a delightful minty and cool aftertaste. I was ready to take on more food after the icy cold and refreshing palate cleanser.
The What’s Up Duck is made with a combination of cured duck, pickled blackberries, cardamom and strips of dehydrated carrot skin. This was a fine example of how Subrosa Private Dining makes full use of every ingredient they have to complete a dish to refrain from wasting food.
The entire carrot was used: the carrot trimmings were fried to a crisp, carrot chutney formed the base of the sauce, and parts of the carrot were puréed and infused with cardamom.
Having been sous vide, the cured duck was tender and required very little jaw work. The sauce was sharp and acidic with a slight sweetness from the carrot chutney, which worked like a jam to pair with the meat.
The last dish of the evening was Remember Mee, Subrosa Private Dining’s take on Hokkien mee. Just like what you might find at a hawker centre, this plate of Hokkien mee had bee hoon, chives, seafood and lard cooked in a complex seafood-based broth.
While the dish was pretty nondescript, what elevated the dish was the inclusion of lobster that had been raised in a local lobster farm and freshly delivered right to Subrosa’s doorsteps in the morning before service starts.
The lobster was amazingly tender and sweet with a slight char on the outside, resulting in a smoky taste. The flesh itself was juicy and came in large chunks, which I really appreciated.
Rounding off our seven-course meal was Tropical Passion, a passion fruit sorbet with pickled mango and spiced syrup, paired with a panna cotta-like coconut set custard, mojito and lime jelly, topped with chocolate shavings.
I really loved the tropical bursts of flavour from the passion fruit, mango and coconut. There were also hints of spiced heat from the pickled mango and tanginess from the mojito and lime jelly, which helped end the meal on a refreshing note.
I appreciated every thought and effort put into each dish here at Subrosa Private Dining; every ingredient had a reason and back story, and all the elements on the plate went hand-in-hand with each other. What made the dining experience better was knowing that Subrosa Private Dining sources most ingredients locally and the chefs take pride in creating most of the dishes from scratch.
For a three-, five- or seven-course meal, I’d say that the price is pretty affordable and the portions are bigger than usual fine dining places.
The items on the menus are constantly changing depending on the which ingredients are in season, so if you’re a fan of surprises, you’ll love being greeted by dishes you’ve never tried or heard before every time you visit Subrosa.
Expected Damage: S$78++ – 168++ per pax
*This post is brought to you in partnership with Subrosa Private Dining.
Price: $ $ $
Our Rating: 4 / 5
Subrosa Private Dining
269 Jalan Besar, Singapore 208997
269 Jalan Besar, Singapore 208997