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Food review: Sleek and sexy Raven brings surprise offerings

Flavours span Latin America to Asia in this new restaurant and bar’s refreshing menu

The-Bar

Raven is sleek, stylish and classic — including Art Deco reminiscent of The Great Gatsby — with warm, welcoming lighting

For some, the raven may bring to mind the dark poem written by American writer Edgar Allan Poe. Nonetheless, any negative notion is quickly dispelled upon passing through the threshold of the newly-opened Raven Restaurant and Bar at Chijmes.

Sleek, stylish and classic — including Art Deco reminiscent of The Great Gatsby — with warm, welcoming lighting, one is quickly put at ease in its embrace.

Gallery-+-Alec-Monopoly-Piano

The baby grand piano was painted by unidentified graffiti artist and DJ “Alec Monopoly”, one of the Top 10 Most Searched Artists (along with Banksy) according to Artnet.

Revitalising After-Work Cocktails

The bar of black marble with iron leaf motifs adds to the solid impression of the décor, and beckons one with tempting cocktails.

I first tried the Agave Smash — a blend of Patron Blanco tequila, Drambruie liqueur, agave nectar and fresh lemon. It had a wholesome taste and was refreshing as an after-work tipple.

Agave-Smash

The Agave Smash, a blend of Patron Blanco tequila, Drambruie liqueur, agave nectar and fresh lemon, made a great after-work tipple

Wanting to raise the bar, I subsequently went for the Elder Presidente, comprising Diplomatico Reserva rum, Amaro Montenegro (an herbal liqueur) St Germain (a liqueur flavoured with elderflowers) and grapefruit bitters. The textures and flavours came together in an interesting form, though the drink felt a tad potent. All the cocktails are priced at $17.

Fresh Take on The Americas

The most delightful surprises came from Raven’s savoury fare. Serving cuisine described as “The New Americas”, I expected more of Latin American cuisine, albeit with a modern touch or two. I was surprised to find a strong Asian influence.

The Grilled Flat Bread ($12, with tomato and mozzarella dips, basil and roasted garlic) wowed me as an appetiser, especially in how crispy it was and how rich the flavours were. It whetted the appetite for more.

Group-Food-Shot

Some of the variety of small plate dishes at Raven

The Tuna Tartare ($17) with avocado wasabi puree, yuzu and soy vinaigrette and frozen pear, was very Japanese, and very pleasing. Similarly, the Roasted Corn Nibblets ($12) brought to mind eating corn on the cob with butter but this one came with a spicy smoked sour cream with paprika and oregano sauce. Again, it tasted very Asian and very yummy!

tuna-tartare
The Tuna Tartare with avocado wasabi puree, yuzu and soy vinaigrette was very Japanese, and very pleasing.

I was told there was some jalapeno in the sauce. What a meeting of worlds.

Mains Full of Surprises

Head Chef Sam Chablani, who began his apprenticeship at the Michelin-starred db Bistro Moderne in New York before moving on to Michelin-starred Gotham Bar & Grill in his early days, certainly lets his ingenuity and knowhow come to the fore in the main dishes.

The Crispy Nori Wrapped Salmon ($29) was the best dish of the night. The nori seaweed layer was crispy and delightful, while the salmon was cooked to a level where the flavours were fully released, yet still tasted very fresh. I was pleasantly surprised by it, as I usually prefer my salmon in (raw) sashimi form.

The Herb Crusted Rack of Lamb ($37) gave the salmon a run for its money. It was juicy, tender and flavourful — everything you look for in a meat dish — and tasted heavenly though it appeared to be only seasoned with herbs. The dish spoke of the quality of the meat and the skill of the chef.

Yet another surprise was the Bacon & Sweet Corn Risotto ($21). Risotto dishes tend to strike me as bland, highly-sticky and jelak (so rich that you get sick of it). But this one was packed with satisfying flavours and crunchiness.

To end this tale (or to continue at another opportunity), the desserts we tried were elaborate but didn’t leave an impression. The Green Tea Opera ($13) — green tea and chocolate truffle, Azuki bean ice cream and sake gel — had a very strong tea taste and the Chocolate Overdose ($13) — various styles of Belgian chocolate such as bitter chocolate sherbet, hazelnut mousse, chocolate sponge and dehydrated chocolate — was a bit of an overload.

Nonetheless, Raven soars in savoury surprises.

By Lester J Wan

Raven Restaurant & Bar, CHIJMES, 30 Victoria Street, #B1-01/02, Singapore 187996, Tel: 8798 2724

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