Stuck in Singapore with nowhere to go? Well one way to beat that wanderlust for a moment is to eat the cuisine instead. That's how we ended up at Olivia Restaurant & Lounge, that same restaurant that made the Basque burnt cheesecake a trend in Singapore. We had high expectations since co-founder and chef Alain Devahive's background includes cooking at the legendary El Bulli.
Even during the Phase 2 period of safe distancing measures in Singapore, it's easy to forget that momentarily with the buzzy vibes at Olivia.
The menu, which is a rotating repertoire of Catalan-style tapas and dishes are split into Bites, Dishes, and Specials. The Bites are more like the typical tapas, think cured meats, croquetas, padron peppers. The Specials are the bigger mains and best for sharing among small groups. The flavors are the heaviest in this category as well.
We started with the Iberico Ham, Cheese and Truffle “Bikini” ($16). Well, as simple as it may sound, i was surprised by the milky and creamy center of the sandwich with a tinge of sharpness and the light crisp on the exterior. There's even that slight pull that you'd get in a grilled cheese sandwich. I would be very happy to have this every morning.
Next, a pricey Mushroom and Truffle Croquettes (2pcs/$14). This is an intense mushroom soup encased in a breaded crust essentially. Bite into that golden crispy and out flows a velvety bechamel filling peppered with bites of mushrooms. Delicious it was but mind you it's $7 a pop.
We toyed with the idea of a Ham, Mozzarella and Truffle Open Omelette ($26) but the flavors would probably be too similar to our appetizers. So the Octopus, Crispy Pork Belly and Potato foam ($38) it was. The kitchen split the dish nicely for the 2 of us even though we're quite happy to share. We were told to swirl the dish as there's some sweet confit onion hidden under the mash. This turned out to be very rich in flavor, mostly due to the starchy "potato foam" (it wasn't very airy). The octopus was fabulously handled by the kitchen and i'd gladly have more of the leg.
We went with more seafood with the Black Rice with Grilled King Carabineros ($48). The rice is colored black with squid ink which gave the dish the deep sea flavor. Umami it was, and even more so when you squeeze some of that heady elixir from the red prawn heads. I love carabinero prawns for their intense sweetness and delicate scallop-like texture.
We were absolutely stuffed with the savory dishes but well since Olivia was first made famous by their cheesecake, we simply had to try it for ourselves... right? It turned out to be our biggest mistake. Sorry this ain't no Basque burnt cheesecake and that center wasn't molten, it was just really watery. At first taste, the savory flavors of the cream and blue cheese filling were pleasant but what i didn't expect was this lingering bitterness from the blue cheese that also tasted like cheese rind and that taste lasted the entire night. Mind you, i love blue cheese, but even i hate this version of it. Needless to say, i'd never come back for this. There are also better cheese tarts e.g. Flor Patisserie.
Drinks wise, there're plenty of Spanish wines here to go with the food. We tried their bespoke cocktails instead. The briny Gin Me!! ($20) which uses olive brine, rosemary and elderflower was a savory and refreshing G&T that is martini-like. Jr's Black Beauty ($18) with Sailor Jerry, D.O.M, Blackberries, Lime, and Ginger Ale was way too sweet for my liking.
The food at Olivia wasn't too bad but as i'm writing this post, i realised that the prices at Olivia has increased tremendously from the time that they first opened and this was across all the food items. The croquettes used to be half the price, which was fair. Anyway, if i were to come back again, i'd probably not order the cheesecake, like ever. Nor would i recommend it to anyone as well.
Olivia Restaurant & Lounge
55 Keong Saik Road, #01-03, Singapore 089158
+65 6221 0522
Tue- Thu: 12 - 2pm, 6 - 10pm
Fri - Sat: 12 - 2.30pm, 6 - 10pm