Subrosa Private Dining at Jalan Besar presents a different facet to the new food trend that is engulfing Singapore at this moment. While dining at someone’s home is all the craze these days, Subrosa allows for the same exclusive and private experience (the chef here also comes with a list of credentials) but it does so while still maintaining itself as a restaurant – complete with the attentive service that comes with it – at the end of the day.
Coming here is as much about the privacy as the experience or name implies. Subrosa means “under the rose” and is a term that indicates confidentiality. Its location in a nondescript shophouse in Jalan Besar is not the usual place for a fine dining concept while the glazed glass entrance offers little clues of what lies within.
The venue is helmed by Chef Steven Snowdon who hails from the UK. He has cooked for a distinguished audience including the British Royal Family. His work experience includes various hotels and Michelin restaurants. Along with Chef Steve, Chef Francis Lee acts as the venue’s consulting chef. He has helped infuse Asian elements into the dishes here.
It was not immediately apparent to me but Subrosa’s space actually extends to two floors. The ground floor is the space for intimate gatherings while the upstairs is open for private functions. There is a minimum spend of S$1,000 to use the space upstairs.
Staying true to its private dining concept, dining at Subrosa requires a reservation. This also ensures the food used for the meal is as fresh as can be.
I normally don’t talk about bread when doing a food review but special mention needs to be given with the one at Subrosa. The highlight is the truffle butter which came incredibly smooth and fragrant. Slather it over the hot artisanal bread and you get yourself a heavenly start to the meal.
The appetizer is called “Fresh is Best” and is made up of scallops, fermented melon, cucumber, dill, lemon and smoked trout roe. I loved the tangy flavor of the succulent scallops which were also cured with sea salt coming from England.
Next came The Cocktail. Chef Steven explained how this was inspired from the Prawn Cocktail, a popular appetizer in the UK. Subrosa’s version came with both crab and aerated shrimp. Imagine the latter as like “hae bee” but sweeter and with a nutty crunch. I loved the clever contrast in textures – one of the finer examples of east meets west during the day’s menu.
The next dish provided a glimpse of Chef Steven’s playful humor. The “Quaking Cod That” is inspired from the steamed fish dish that usually graces Chinese meals. In Subrosa, cod is used while nori, shimeji mushrooms and ginger provide for that oriental touch. With this, you might wonder what the “quaking” might mean with the name of the dish. That actually comes with the sauce. Instead of the usual soy sauce, duck consomme is used here.
My set menu at Subrosa also came with a customary carbohydrate dish and it takes the form of a luxe version of Hokkien Mee. It tastes just like what you’d come to expect dining in Singapore’s eateries but the one here is topped by no less than generous servings of lobsters. What I particularly loved about the dish is the rich broth which was likewise made with lobster. The interplay of the powerful broth against the sweetness of the lobster provided for a nice equalization of flavors.
The Hokkien Mee that came prior to this rendered me stuffed but it’s difficult not to make space after seeing the next dish. “Who Niu” consists of a small slab of wagyu beef accompanied by foie gras and vegetable puree on the side. The beef was marvelously tender while the foie gras was relatively intense in flavor especially towards the crust.
We ended the meal with the Tropical Passion which include coconut, lime, passionfruit and mango sorbet. It served as just the right sweet ending after the heavy flavors of the preceding dishes.
Subrosa Private Dining offers 5 and 7 course menus and is open for both lunch and dinner. Prices range from S$108 for the 5 course menu to S$148 for the 7 course menu. Reservations at least 48 hours prior to dining is required.
Subrosa Private Dining
369 Jalan Besar
Open daily from 11AM to midnight