Raven: "The New Americas"

The same folks behind speakeasy bar House of Dandy have poked their fingers into the restaurant scene with yet another sexy Urban City creation: Raven. Settled snugly in the bottom enclaves of Chijmes, this is the kind of place you bring secret dates to, hoping that something saucy will evolve from the whole exchange. Well, fret no, with a strong list of cheeky cocktails to boot (H.O.D... DUH), Raven might just be you go-to location if you're hoping to strike first-base.

In this space, a grafittied grand piano in the style of Rich Uncle Pennybags stands with a DJ console on its back, sleek leather booth seatings and mystifying modern light instalments pave the way for an equally bedazzling meal. "The New Americas" is touted to be the menu's art direction, and with that, I visualised Northern and Southern American comfort food perceived with a modern interpretation with teensie ounces of Asian flair subtly worked into each dish. With Sam Chablani, previously from Lolla heading the kitchen, I had no qualms that something prodigious was about to unravel itself.

Here is the Tuna Tartare ($17), over a pea-colored avocado wasabi puree with a gleaming side of Nan Shui Pear shavings. The chunks of raw tuna tossed in a yuzu and soy vinaigrette recieving the bare minimal amount of attention needed to shine. Another excellent starter is the Roasted Corn Nibblets ($12), so, they do look a little pale but that's because white corn is employed here, pacifying the #whiteaddicts in some of us. Continuing in the same light, the chefs inject a bit of playful Asian strokes with the addition of gula melaka balsamic to the dressing that treads the plate of Burratina and Heirloom tomatoes ($18), a botanical basil oil and savoury dehydrated olives following in its wake. Afer the third course, it became clearly evident that the attention to the freshness of the produce pays a major role to the presentation of the dish. Chef Sam then swings around with articulate technique to produce the Crispy Nori Wrapped Salmon ($29), panko crumbed and nori wrapped fillet of salmon deep fried till crispy golden brown on the exterior, then gingerly slices open to reveal pink flushed innards. The immaculate pyramid of ponzo sago  providing that touch of acidity that makes you itch for another piece.

The most exemplary starter of the lot is the Fried Chorizo Croquettes ($13). Balls of chorizo, bechamel and mozzarella are triple fried to ensure that all that goodness is locked in safely behind concrete walls of gold crust. All waiting to erupt into its unsuspecting victim's mouth with such exuberance and zeal that you'll be taken aback. Just a warning though, as the tongue-scorching impact may ruin the rest of your dinner or first base experience. Served with tangy jalapeno vinaigrette and house made creme fraiche - purely artistic additions in my impression, as much of these flavors weren't required but still mandatory to justify the price tag in this case.

What began as a humble dumpling evolves into a stripped down version of the homey Italian fare in the hands of Raven's ambitious chefs - the Handmade Open Beef Ravioli ($24) arrives with al dente sheets of circular cut-out pasta, carrot cream, wilted spinach and the incandescent pulled beef braised in red wine sauce for 16hrs, layered meticulously in alternating fashion, ensuring that you get the whole lot with every single bite. Highly recommended!

As much attention as The Raven Burger 'Cemita' ($22) was receiving, this fell short of expectations by a long shot. Cemita, a sandwich originally from Mexico is a type of torta, the most important component of its classification being the roll its made with -also called a cemita. Described to be a cross between a challah and a brioche; Raven's burger bun bared a resemblance to none of the above, however, its sweet demeanour was something that I raved about. The disappointment lies with the fundamentals of its 180g beef chuck patty which needed to be fine-tuned -  internal seasoning levels leaving much to be desired. The excess of chorizo cream slathered over top and bottom buns contributing to an excessive tangy personality that overshadowed the patty itself.

Desserts meander in the same ambitious streams, the Green Tea Opera ($13) looking every bit the immaculate mistress sprawled out on a black plate, the chocolate truffle encasing an ambrosial matcha ganache filling that seduces you to suckle on its nectarous innards before pursuing to crunch down on its carelessly thick walls. Stick with the Chocolate Overdose ($13) instead for a more fruitful sweet ending; the various textures of Belgian chocolate ranging from bitter chocolate sherbet to smooth hazelnut mousse between tempered milk chocolate sheets, microwave chocolate sponge and feulletine wafer crunch, takes your palate on a rollercoaster ride.

If you've still got room for cocktails, then I would implore you to reach out for the nearest wait staff and beg him to bring you a Maple Leaf Sour ($17) - makers mark bourbon, maple syrup, vanilla infused sweet vermouth, lemon, butters and egg white; given Raven's affliation with H.O.D. it's needless to say, cocktails follow in the same extraordinary league, it's balance, impeccable and spot on. The Bespoke ($17) combines Alipus Mezcal, yello chartreuse, agave syrup and lime juice in a flawless algorithm that is sure to encourage frisky attitudes in larger quantities.

#B1-01/02 CHIJMES
30 Victoria St
w: www.raven.sg
t: 8789 2724

Operating Hours: 
Mon, Tues & Sun: 5pm - 1am
Wed - Sat: 5pm - 2am

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