Where to eat and what's new in Singapore: Raffles Hotel's yi by Jereme Leung, Olivia Restaurant & Lounge, and Firebake's new offerings
Where we dined this week...
Olivia Restaurant & Lounge
Know this, Olivia Restaurant & Lounge isn't a Spanish establishment. Instead, the beautiful space down on Keong Saik street is dedicated to the eclectic dining scene of Barcelona. And yes, it serves more than just tapas. A space co-founded by chef Alain Devahive, who previously spent a decade at the famed El Bulli restaurant in Spain. Flavours are bold and always exhibited in small and bigger plates stemmed from borrowed traditional recipes and contemporary renditions of classic fare. Start off with olives that grant a burst of part-tart, part-nut emulsion, paired immaculately with slices of toast slathered with tomato juices. Croquettes here form perfect circles of what you would deem a bite of the perfect mushroom soup — with a rich smooth truffle infused filing one could call a party in the mouth. It's heavy, no doubt — but don't let that deter you from the beef foie gras carpaccio. Think paper thin slices of beef with a white swirl within that's actually foie gras. The dish is topped with truffle sauce and orange skin speckles, just to cut through the fat. If you haven't already figured it out, the dishes here do dabble in heavier flavours. Some of which might be a tad too salty; one being the octopus and pork belly — where it's submerged in an espuma of potato. Although within, there is a base of caramelised onions to pare against the salt. Then again, it all boils down to your personal threshold for decadence. There was also the cannelloni — tubular pasta encased with cushy beef cheeks and doused with a generous serving of parmesan cream. Indulgent, but also a comforting nod to most Spanish households. You see, this would be the mass-made food item typically froze in the fridge, to be continuously had as a staple. If you're looking for comforting paella, you won't actually find what you'll be looking for. Well, they do a similar rendition - but it doesn't serve up the same consistency like what you're used to. Olivia's black rice with carabinero prawn is much wetter (its murky colour derived from squid ink) and tips over on the briny scale. But however you choose to order at Olivia, don't ever leave without savouring their famed burnt cheesecake (no matter your feelings towards the subject). It's a home recipe that has stood the test of time, through a precise combination of eggs, flour, sugar and a handful of cheeses (including blue). The filling is warm, oozy and dabbles in a mouthwatering tandem of salty, sweet, and creamy. Let's just add that your first fork in, will definitely not be your last. If it was up to us, we wouldn't bother sharing, at all. —JS
Hero dish: Burnt cheesecake
Estimated calorie count: 355
55 Keong Saik Road #01-03, Tel: 6221 0522
Opening hours: (Tues-Thurs)11:30am-2pm, 6pm-10pm, (Fri-Sat)11:30am-2pm,6pm-late
Yes, it's true — the beloved little eatery in Serene Centre, often the respite of students from the local universities just nearby, has gotten itself a glow-up. Previously behind a dessert parlour, Fat Belly now takes full center-stage in the new 52-seater space, focusing solely on serving the best of alternative steak cuts that butchers have to offer. With head chef Spencer Lau blazing the way for the newly reopened steakhouse, we started off: first, with a baked camembert cheese starter that was absolutely indulgent. Plated with Turkish bread that was toasted to the slightest char, the classic combination was enough to send our taste buds tingling — ready to devour as-powerful beef mains to come. The steaks themselves were not bad, if slightly uninspiring. As the Fat Belly brand is built on bringing forth new flavors from lesser-known cuts of beef, we commend the explorative nature of their steaks. In particular, the wagyu tri-tip, in all its 9+ marble score glory, was a clear favorite — especially when paired with their horseradish crème. Their version of this cut managed to provide key aspects of the steak-eating experience that the onglet and flat iron cuts were just shy of; by this we refer to an appropriate juiciness (given of course the gaminess of the meat), and that melt-in-your-mouth quality that is the harbinger of a good steak. To be very honest, we would have been fine if the onglet cut, which butchers would traditionally keep for themselves, had stayed outside of the mainstream. But then again, the accompanying dishes quelled some of our doubt — the pomme puree especially revitalized the steaks, giving it new depths and layers to its flavor that were previously undiscovered. To the desserts, we had no complaints; their Basque burnt cheesecake took it home for us, ending our meal on a sweet, fluffy high. —MS
Hero dish: Baked camembert cheese
Estimate calorie count: 337
#01-04 10 Jalan Serene, Tel: 6314 2247
Opening hours: (Sun-Thu) 6pm-10pm, (Fri-Sat) 6pm-11pm, Closed on Wed
The first restaurant in Singapore to house a full-scale woodfire bread oven, Firebake is a place in the East Coast that has accumulated a steady posse of regulars. Fortunately, listening to the community diners also happens to be one of this bakehouse's fortes. The new menu items launching this month were crafted exactly with customers' requests in mind, and then some — founder Konstantino Blokbergen's heritage is also paid homage to with the inventive new dishes, all of which remain exquisitely complementary to their house-baked breads. An example? Other than a literal bread board featuring various types of bread served with French butter bordier and Greek olive oil, the Firebake tartine was a glorious introduction to full-fledged bread meals. The open-faced dish was essentially a sandwich with no bread on top — which means the flavors of the toppings hit your soft palate with full force, and the intensity is tempered melodiously by a slice of their very own Seedy. Their toppings change weekly, but we're not worried about the combinations they'll eventually choose — ours had mortadella ham and Grana Padano cheese piled onto supple bread, so we know they've got themselves a winning brunch option. For those still holding on to impressions that Firebake has more of a café concept with gentle soups as sides, dash those thoughts away: Delectable soups come fully loaded in the form of a rich, heavily-infused vegetable broth and a wild mushroom soup heightened by a smoked paprika toast (for a la carte orders). Now, if you're looking for heavier stuff, the prawn capellini aglio olio ought to do it; its triple umami (prawns, prawn oil and sakura ebi) really packs a bomb in this capellini dish. Firebake has done a solid by keeping their blue mussels in the menu too — after all, why fix something that is not broken? Cooked in chorizo and lager, every bite of this seafood extravaganza was truly indulgent, and the bursts of flavor were savored even more with the paired bread they gave us. Finally, we had Firebake's impeccable take on the wagyu cheese burger, brought to life by fluffy sour-dough potato buns (naturally baked in-house) and a pastitsada Greek-style stew lathering medium-done Australian wagyu beef. Through it all, we never once got sick of their bread. —MS
Hero dish: Firebake Tartine
Estimate calorie count: 510
237 East Coast Road, Tel: 6440 1228
Opening hours: (Tue-Fri) 11.30am-10pm, (Sat-Sun) 9am-10pm
Where we're looking to dine...
yi by Jereme Leung
Celebrity MasterChef Jereme Leung is paying homage to his Singapore roots with a first restaurant on our shores. It also happens to be the only Chinese restaurant in the newly-furbished Raffles Hotel. When while the space looks exquisitely luxurious (as we had a sneak peek earlier this week), the grub remains true to the convivial dining in Chinese households — adopting varying classics from destinations like China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. No small, bite-sized portions, just a place where you and your fam can stick chopsticks into the same plate.
#03-09, Raffles Arcade, 328 North Bridge Rd
Set to open this September
Tanjong Beach Club's bottomless brunch
They had us at Perrier- Jouët and bottomless... brunch. If Tanjong Beach Club is holding an epic soiree involving the aforementioned, we're there. Of course, to enjoy this to the fullest, we suggest leaving the kids at home and stuffing yourself with endless booze, fresh seafood and copious amounts of cheese.
10 August, 9am to 12am and 11 August, 2pm to 2am
Get tickets here.