Alice is Wonderland is a favourite tale of mine, the surreal tale of the heroine and her friends have always struck a chord with me. And when we were told that there was a restaurant in Singapore called White Rabbit which was named after Alice in Wonderland, well what's a girl to do but book a table here.
The restaurant is housed inside a converted church and has aces of beautiful gardens surrounding it. Sadly it is raining so any sort of Alice style exploring is out of the question. We take a look inside and it is gorgeous with wooden and leather chairs, lush greenery and lovely lighting fixtures and the restaurant does brunch until 2.30pm. Alison from delicious. magazine, Carly from SBS and I take a seat at a roomy booth and fixate on the menu. And of course you know the item that we really wanted: mac and cheese with truffles but apparently so did everyone else. We are told that it has sold out and no amount of eyelash batting will make it appear.
_Lobster and cheese omelette $30
We went for our second choice, a lobster and cheese omelette. It's a nicely made omelette with a generous amount of lobster chunks. The only thing I could really fault was that the cheese was much stronger than the lobster and masked any sort of lobster flavour.
Carly is allergic to mushrooms so we had this without the field mushrooms. It's a well seasoned patty and comes with melted cheese on top but could do with some pickles or sauce which we ask for. The fries are crunchy and addictive (and fries eaten on holiday contain no calories right?!)
The smoked salmon blini could have dine with a bit more smoked salmon and the eggs were completely unseasoned however with the salty salmon it was more balanced. The blini is light and fluffy and made from buckwheat.
I was a little worried when it was set down in front of us and as far as a soufflé goes it wasn't a success. The skin on top was tough (and skin?) and underneath it it was quite wet and the texture was more of a lemon delicious style of pudding rather than a drier airy soufflé. There are melted bits of Mars bar at the bottom which we fish for. Overall it's a pretty setting and not a bad place for brunch although there isn't much in the way of Alice in the decor except for these bar tiles.
TWG Tea Salon
On the Alice and tea party theme, should you wish to have a bit of a tea stop in the afternoon TWG (The Wellness Group) tea salon is a bit obsessed with tea. We visited their branch at the Marina Bay Sands shopping centre and like all Singapore shops, open late at night (with a Manolo Blahnik boutique to open soon!). Founded in 2007, they stock teas from 36 tea producing countries and the tea menu stretches out for a good eight pages features 402 varieties of tea.
The menu starts with their darjeeling teas which are denoted by the letters that the Dutch East Indies tea company originally used to describe different tea types. With tea, the higher the percentage of whole tips that are found in the tea, the higher the grade of tea. Teas here start at about $11 per pot and go up to $84.50 for a China Szechuan yellow gold tea buds tea.
When faced with a huge selection of teas it can be a bit daunting. I am a huge Earl Grey tea fan and they suggested white Earl Grey which is an experiment with an expensive first grade tea blended with quality bergamot. However since I do like my tea sweet and milky so Maranda suggests the New York breakfast tea which features African black tea, Tahitian vanilla and chocolate. I try it and it is sweet like a caramel tea which I am not particularly taken with but then I try Grace's white Earl Grey and I prefer that and its uplifting fragrance of bergamot.
Here they also have a small section of Pu-erh teas which are teas that are aged in cellars. The price of these varies from $11-$19.50 per pot and these teas have been the subject of speculation as some see them as an investment. Three of the teas are dated from 1993, 1998 and 2000, much like you would have a wine vintage. The older the tea, the stronger the smell and the milder the taste and Maranda describes them as smelling like "earth" and the older they are the more they smell like...vomit! But apparently this is a plus. It must be the same palate that likes durian! ;)
We try the sweets on offer including some heavenly macarons. Now macaron seekers, Singapore is in the throes of macaron fever and they are making some fantastic ones here. The black macaron, which I first thought was licorice was the pick of the it has to be said fabulous bunch. All of the sweets have an element of tea in them and the black macaron had Napoleon black tea and caramel which is an insanely good combination. Maranda tells us that they worked for a long time to develop a recipe for the macaron which was less sweet to cater for the Asian palate. I think Alice would have approved...
The Disgruntled Chef
Later one evening we stopped by The Disgruntled Chef where one can partake of small plates and large plates along with cocktail, wine and champagne. The Disgruntled Chef is owned by German born Peter Knipp who heads up Singapore's World Gourmet Summit each year. In its 15th year, this year saw chefs such as Australia's Dietmar Sawyere and Brent Savage join Rachel Allen, Edward Kwon and Singaporean chefs Janice Wong and Ryan Clift for masterclasses, demonstrations, lunches and dinners.
The crispy lamb shortribs are divine-succulent yet crunchy it is generously dusted with a spicy potpourri of cumin and chilli. I need to force myself to stop at one.
Oh my, I do love it when crackling cracks in the mouth and indeed this lovely number does so appealingly. Holding the spindly bones it innately requires some ladylike restraint to eat it although all I want to do is have at it. But I'm a lady you see ;)
The baked camembert fondue comes on a piece of fruit bread with a little tube of apple sauce which we apply on top of the barely baked camembert. It was good although I do prefer the meat dishes.
The Clinic Bar
I suspect if Alice were written in the modern day, there would have been many a cocktail had. And perhaps she might have visited somewhere like The Clinic Bar where "doctors" and "nurses" administer cocktails to "patients".
I do love the way that Asia does theme bars and this was the one bar we were told we just needed to try. On Clarke Quay, it's bustling and packed this Friday night and not at all what we expected. For starters it is entirely outdoors whereas we expected it to be housed in a room that resembles...well a clinic! There are "doctors" walking around in white lab coats pushing drips filled with cocktails and "patients" can sit in the wheelchairs.
Speaking of the drip cocktail, it doesn't come cheap at $50 a pop but you take the end and roll the lever and out comes your very own drip cocktail in either "sex on the drip" or a more bloody looking one called "blood transfusion"-ok it's a gimmick but we fall for it.
We also ordered a bucket full of five syringes which you administer by spurting into your mouth! I think I averaged about five hours of sleep a night on this trip...
So tell me Dear Reader, which book, tv or movie hero or heroine would you like to be?
NQN travelled to and explored Singapore as a guest of the Singapore Tourism Board. The White Rabbit meal was independently paid for.
The White Rabbit
39C Harding Rd, Singapore
Tel: +65 6473 9965
TWG Tea Salon
The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands, B2-89/89A, 2 Bayfront Avenue, Singapore
Tel: +65 6535 1837
Open daily 10 am - 10 pm
Open daily 10 am - 11 pm and until 12 midnight on Fridays, Saturdays and on the eve of public holidays
The Disgruntled Chef
26B Dempsey Road, Singapore
Tel: +65 6476 5305
TueSun: 12pm3pm, 5pm11.30pm
The Cannery, 3C River Valley Rd, Singapore
Tel: +65 6887 3733